Mr. Chrétien notes that he was first elected in 1963 when there was no medicare or Canada Pension Plan, Canadian flag or Charter of Rights. Nor was there a Clarity Act – which his government brought in to define the rules around holding a referendum should Quebec contemplate separation.It almost sounds as if Canada didn't even exist as a nation back in 1963. Yet, much to the surprise of Mr. Chretien & Co, it did; Canada has been a nation since 1867, not since 1965. And, believe it or not, Canada did have a national flag back in 1963 - the Canadian Red Ensign, which used to incorporate Canadian symbols (including the Maple Leaf) as well as references to Canada's British roots and even its French heritage. That the Red Ensign was later replaced, doesn't necessarily mean it was any less of a Canadian flag than the Maple Leaf.
Same with the Charter - it too didn't come out of thin air. Remember - "I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong...". That was said by John Diefenbaker, in 1960, about the Canadian Bill of Rights, enacted that year. While dismissed by many as having limited effect, the Canadian Bill of Rights was in fact an effective means of protecting real rights and fundamental freedoms.
It included property rights - something you won't find in the Charter. It stood for real equality, without labeling any sort of discrimination "positive" or "affirmative". And the preamble of the Canadian Bill of Rights mentioned the dignity and worth of the human person, the position of the family in a free society, the respect for moral and spiritual values... All these noble principles were stricken out by Pierre Trudeau's government two decades later.
Yes, the more time passes, the more obvious it becomes that under the guise of patriating the Constitution, Trudeau practically rewrote Canada's fundamental Human Rights law of the time, enshrining his own party principles and entitlements for his support groups while leaving behind everything that didn't fit the Trudeaupean vision of Canada. So, when it comes to protecting our rights, not only it wasn't the Liberal party that initiated the move, but, if anything, the Liberals' contribution is actually negative, they actually took away from what we used to have three decades ago.
What else is there? Healthcare? Wrong again! In 1957, the Diefenbaker federal government passed the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act. By 1961, all ten provinces had agreed to start HIDS Act programs. The CPP? Oh, yeah, that mandatory plan, which has nearly tripled the premiums (and they're going even higher in Quebec) over the last 25 years, without increasing the benefits. The RRSPs were introduced in early 1950s and the Old Age Security has been around since 1920s.
Oh, yes, and eliminating the deficit. That is an accomplishment. Unless we mention that it was Trudeau who got Canada into runaway deficits in the first place. Public debt went up from $19B in 1968 to $157B in 1984 and, since the interest rates were at all-time high - that's what brought us these enormous deficits of the Mulroney era.
It's also worth mentioning that it was Joe Clark who first sounded the idea of gradually eliminating the deficits - a task his government could have accomplished by late 1980s - if it had stayed in power. Or that it was Mulroney who planted seeds for the long-term growth (not only with NAFTA, but also with his tax reform that eased the burden on the economy by merely simplifying the system) which allowed Chretien's government to end the deficits, while Chretien himself left behind Kyoto - well knowing that its targets could not be achieved without severely damaging the economy.
So, contrary to Chretien assertions, it's not like Canada really benefited from electing the Liberals into power back in 1963. (Rather the opposite.) Chretien probably realizes that too, so he resorts to that decade-old "hidden agenda" myth in his fundraising letter. And, by the way, here's a good question: why did a fundraising letter become a newspaper article? Has the Globe and Mail become the official fundraising agent of the Liberal Party of Canada?