While it's no surprise that Tony Blair likens his fraught relationship with Gordon Brown to that between their Canadian counterparts Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, the British Prime Minister's newly published memoirs put a new, conspiratorial spin on the ruptured world of prime ministers and their finance-minister successors.
In Mr. Blair's memoir A Journey, released in Britain on Wednesday morning and in Canada on Thursday, the former Labour prime minister draws on his close relationship with Mr. Chrétien to describe in detail his split with finance minister and arch-rival Mr. Brown, who succeeded him as Prime Minister in 2007.
At the time of the handover, Britain was convulsed with a political-donations scandal involving seats in the House of Lords being rewarded to people who had given generously to the Labour Party. According to Mr. Blair, his finance minister believed that the scandal had been orchestrated in order to sabotage his future Prime Ministership - and that the same had been the case in Canada.
At a crucial moment during the transition, Mr. Blair writes, Mr. Brown "was in a venomous mood. I can truthfully say it was the ugliest meeting we ever had."
Mr. Blair offers his interpretation: "To be fair to [Mr. Brown] for some reason he thought this whole donations business had been a way of my leaving him with some frightful scandal, a sort of ticking bomb that would then wreck his leadership in the same way, as he put it to me, Jean Chrétien had done to Paul Martin in Canada."
What becomes clear in that and other passages is that the Blair-Brown and Chrétien-Martin schisms were not just mirror images of one another, but actually worked off each other. Mr. Brown and Mr. Martin had a close working relationship (though Mr. Blair had little do do with Mr. Martin), and apparently shared ideas about their political circumstances.
Likewise, as the memoir reveals, Mr. Blair identified very closely with Mr. Chrétien.
Mr. Blair characterizes "my friend" Mr. Chrétien as "a very wise, wily and experienced old bird, great at international meetings, where he could be counted on to talk sense, and, as Canadians often are, firm and dependable without being pushy. All in all, a good guy and a very tough political operator not to be underestimated."
The British Prime Minister turned to his Canadian counterpart in times of trouble. During an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in England, he asks Mr. Chrétien's advice, and describes the Liberal Prime Minister telling him: "Watch that, young Tony, watch it very carefully. That's trouble."
Mr. Martin receives no such mention. Indeed, Canada essentially disappeared from Mr. Blair's radar after Canada's Liberal government decided, in 2003, not to join Britain and the United States in the "coalition of the willing" fighting in Iraq.
From that point, countries that had stayed out of Iraq, such as Canada, received very little attention from Mr. Blair's government, and this is reflected in the book, where Canada disappears after the first half of his ten-year Prime Ministership.
The only other Canadian to receive significant mention is General John de Chastelain, a former classmate of Mr. Blair's who took on the daunting job of disarming the Irish Republican Army as part of the Northern Ireland peace negotiations.
Mr. Blair offers backhanded praise for the rigid way in which Mr. de Chastelain, "a man of integrity and honour," conducted the decommissioning of weapons - that is, Mr. Blair recalls, "poor John" witnessed the destruction of weapons, but strictly followed the IRA's orders not to reveal exactly what sort of weapons, or how many, had been destroyed - a statement that shocked most Unionist observers.
This lack of specific proof from the Canadian general, Mr. Blair correctly notes, effectively ended the political career of David Trimble, the moderate Unionist politician who had been the key actor in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and scuppered any chance of having a unified self-government parliament in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
That wouldn't occur in any lasting way until 2007, when the more extreme republican and unionist parties took up the reins, under Mr. Blair's goading, and brought lasting peace to the troubled province.
But the IRA did, in the end, abolish armed struggle and destroy all its weapons, and Mr. Blair is effusive in his praise for Mr. de Chastelain.
"It was as well that John was a patient man," he writes; "he required patience in saintly qualities. He was put upon, mucked about, abused, disabused, and took it all in the interests of peace. To his enormous credit, he stuck with it and his reputation as a straight guy was an invaluable part of the whole process."