Hopefully, this will quell some of the leadership issues currently dominating Canadian politics and political news. It is also probably quite shrewd of Chrétien to announce this retirement before the Chicoutimi meeting, so that he can get his party focused on whatever it is he wants to leave as his ‘legacy’. It should also preclude a pre-emptive strike by his leadership opponents.
Finally, this leaves the Liberals (again) in a excellent position to continue ruling Canada. First, they will know who their opponents are, with the other parties’ leadership votes set for much sooner than that. Second, if this does push the leadership race to the side for a while (as it has been Chrétien vs. and with him stepping down, the other possible leaders don’t need to get involved yet), which will let Canadians forget all about this, and the Liberal party will once again appear to be the unified strong party that it nearly always presents come election time.
For the record, while as these things go, Chrétien has been a decent leader, and probably the best of the viable options in Canada, things have definitely been getting a little skewed of late, and I think his stepping down is excellent. Except for the fact that it probably means the Liberals will remain the governing party for a while yet.