BRUSSELS -- If Paul Martin ever needed to make a good impression on the world stage, the time would be now, say political and military observers.
With his Liberal minority government about to deliver what could be a do-or-die budget and fresh from a scathing article in The Economist, which christened him "Mr. Dithers," the prime minister departed Sunday for Brussels to attend a gathering of NATO leaders.
One of the significant challenges facing Martin will be to convince alliance members, especially the United States, that a decade-long funding drought for the Canadian Forces is finally at an end, said a military analyst.
"We've got to stop giving the impression that Canada will be there and then we show up with whatever we can cobble together," said Murray Lee, a retired colonel who often spoke about the need to replace the aging fleet of Sea King helicopters.
"Looking at The Economist this week calling him Mr. Dithers, here's the perfect opportunity for him to dispel that aspersion and say, 'We're serious, we're going to have a strong foreign affairs policy, we're going to have a strong defence policy and here's the first steps on how we're going to do that."'