If this were the U.S., congressional committees would probably be going all-out to investigate patronage appointments and possible conflicts of interest involving Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
A year ago, Liberal opposition leader Chrétien campaigned successfully against political patronage in a Tory government led to power by fellow Quebecer Brian Mulroney.
So what was one of Chrétien's earlier decisions? Why, he appointed his nephew, Raymond Chrétien, to Canada's top diplomatic post as ambassador to the United States?
To do so, he hauled out an ambassador who had held the post for only a year.
Chrétien's explanation for appointing nephew Raymond: 'I am very proud of him - he is extremely well respected.'
Chrétien, who spent decades as a loyal yes-man in Pierre Trudeau's cabinets, didn't seem to care about his vows to clean up patronage. In the Quebec political scene from which he comes, you reward your friends and accuse your enemies.
This year, one of the top projects of the Chretien government was to organize and lead a costly, huge trade mission to communist China. Called the Team Canada tour, Chrétien enlisted nine of the 10 premiers (excluding Quebec).
The Canada-China Business Council organized the tour. The head of the council just happens to be André Desmarais, president of the giant Power Corp. in Montreal and Chrétien's son-in-law.
Power Corp. was built by André's Dad, Paul Desmarais, a friend and backer of both Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney. Power Corp. owns Montreal La Presse newspaper and has a part of the controlling interest in Southam, one of Canada's largest newspaper chains. And Power Corp. also happens to be a large investor in Chinese projects.
So Chrétien led the premiers, an army of bureaucrats and 350 businessmen into China and announced over $8 billion in letters of intent and such in business deals with the Beijing Bosses. But it appeared less than $300 million was in signed contracts.
It also so happened that André Desmarais and his wife, France, travelled on Chrétien's plane on the China trip and stayed at the same hotels. Some observers noted that in countries like China, political leaders are impressed by business people who have close links to the political bosses.
The media travelling with Chretien were slow in questioning the arrangement, but when they finally did, a flustered prime minister said of Desmarais:
'He's staying with my daughter and he's paying his tickets I'd like to spend some time with my daughter and son-in-law.' And Chrétien emphasized that Desmarais didn't attend any top-level meetings with Chinese leaders.
It makes one wonder what Chrétien, his daughter and son-in-law talked about during those many days in China. The weather? Egg-drop soup? The lack of NHL hockey back home?
Yep, if this were President Bill Clinton in a similar situation, the U.S. congressional committees would be asking many questions. But it's Canada.