Former prime minister Jean Chretien said Friday he's sorry if people "betrayed the nation" and made mistakes leading to the sponsorship scandal, adding he takes responsibility for them.
In his first public statement on the furore since he testified at the Gomery commission in February, Chretien also said he didn't want to comment on Prime Minister Paul Martin's, leadership on the issue, which has ignited separatist sentiment in Quebec and threatens to topple the government.
But Chretien said he's still behind the Liberal party.
"I am a Liberal and if there's an election, I will vote Liberal with pleasure."
Recalling his appearance before the Gomery inquiry, Chretien said: "In my statement, I said I was sorry if mistakes were made and I said I have to take the full responsibility of what's good and what's bad when you're the prime minister."
"And I said if mistakes were made, these people have betrayed the nation, betrayed the government and myself and (through) due process, if found guilty, they should be punished,"
It's easy enough now for Chretien to say that he'll take full responsibility, because there's no way for him to actually do so once he's out of office and safe from the wrath of the electorate or the prosecution.
There are too many of these meaningless apologies offered by public figures today, almost always for past events in which they were not involved, to be received by those who were not directly effected thereby.
The purpose of these apologies is not to take responsibility, nor to express contrition, but to assert the moral superiority of the person offering the apology. In short: I'm sorry those people weren't as good as I am.
(Chretien's non-apology is especially galling considering where and when he made it. Read the Canoe report to see why.)