By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 8 Comments
The Prime Minister says he is profoundly saddened by Nycole Turmel’s associations with sovereignists.
“I think it’s very disappointing,” Harper said when asked about Turmel by reporters while handing out scholarships at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. “I don’t know that I have a lot to say but I do think Canadians will find this disappointing. I think Canadians expect that any political party that wants to govern the country be unequivocally committed to this country. I think that’s the minimum Canadians expect.”
Mr. Harper’s own historical attitude toward Quebec politics might be said to be somewhat complicated. The NDP says, for instance, that there are two ministers in Mr. Harper’s cabinet who were previously associated with sovereignists. There is, as well, whatever he and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe discussed in 2004 and what he and Tom Flanagan wrote in 1997 about the role Quebec nationalists might play in bringing a conservative government back to power.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 12:16 PM - 103 Comments
This post last updated at 5:30pm.
The Globe and Mail discovers that Nycole Turmel was a member of the Bloc Quebecois.
According to information obtained by The Globe and Mail, the 68-year-old became a member of the Bloc Québécois in December, 2006, the year she retired as president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. She sent back her membership card to the Bloc on Jan. 19 of this year in a signed letter to then-Bloc MP Carole Lavallée. “Enclosed is my Bloc Québécois membership card, which I wish to cancel. I wish to state that my request has nothing to do with the party’s policies, I am doing this for personal reasons,” Ms. Turmel wrote. She then wished “good luck” to Ms. Lavallée, who went on to be defeated by an NDP candidate in the May 2 general election. In addition to her membership in the Bloc, Ms. Turmel made four donations totalling $235 to the party between 2006 and 2011, according to party records. The donations, which ranged from $35 to $100, were not made public because they are under the $200 threshold for disclosure by political parties.
12:41pm… The Globe reports that Conservative MPs and supporters were briefed on Ms. Turmel’s ties to separatists in a memo distributed late last week. The Star notes that some of these issues were raised in April during the election campaign. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
The government has decided to release the Champlain Bridge report, but denies this constitutes a change in position.
“I think that they will be released, actually,” Sara MacIntyre, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. ”I think that those reports will be out shortly.”
A spokeswoman for Lebel added that a statement from his office would be out Wednesday afternoon. She rejected the suggestion that the government had a change of heart. ”It’s just a question of timing,” Vanessa Schneider said. ”We received the report, I think, in the department just before the election, and as you know, Minister Lebel was appointed in late May, so it’s just a question of going through all our processes.”
Connoisseurs of the subject matter can read the report here.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM - 16 Comments
Transport Minister Denis Lebel explains why the general public is not allowed to see a report on the condition of Montreal’s Champlain Bridge.
“When you release information into the public that is handled by people who are not exactly connaisseurs of the subject matter, that can create worries that I do not want to create,” Lebel said. ”Above all, I do not want people to try politicizing this issue and to work against the public interest. This isn’t the time to be starting something that would create insecurity in the public. And I’m not saying there are things in the report that would create insecurity; I’m simply saying that we treat very thoroughly everything in such reports to allow for smooth and secure transport.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities held their Ottawa reception at the Fairmont Château Laurier….
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities held their Ottawa reception at the Fairmont Château Laurier. Below, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (right).
NDP MP Yvon Godin (left) and NDP leader Jack Layton (second from left).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at 5:10 PM - 0 Comments
John Geddes has related a recent conversation he had with the Bloc Quebecois leader.
After the government side made much of the story today, Mr. Duceppe also discussed the issue—and what happened between he and Stephen Harper in 2004—with reporters after QP. Here are his English comments. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 11:20 AM - 5 Comments
Some new face in the house when Harper is speaking, It’s that French teacher’s fault, and She’s that fabulous
SOME NEW FACES IN THE HOUSE WHEN HARPER IS SPEAKING
No longer in the Conservative caucus, Helena Guergis now sits as an independent in the back row of the House. Guergis was part of the blond troika behind Stephen Harper, picked up by the TV cameras whenever he rose in the Commons. The other two were Lisa Raitt and Diane Ablonczy. Now the three blonds in the shot have been replaced with dark-haired MPs: Minister for International Co-operation Bev Oda, Minister of State Denis Lebel, and Rona Ambrose, who took over Guergis’s status of women portfolio. Ambrose now has one of the longest titles in the government: minister of public works and government services Canada and the receiver general of Canada, minister for status of women, vice-president of the Treasury Board, and regional minister for northern Alberta. Or as one MP joked: “Minister of everything.” Ambrose got back recently from a trip to Afghanistan with Defence Minister Peter MacKay. In Kandahar, the two stopped by the Tim Hortons, where the cups are designed to look like camouﬂage and the prizes for Roll Up the Rim to Win included special edition Kandahar hats. Neither Ambrose nor MacKay won anything.
IT’S THAT FRENCH TEACHER’S FAULT
NDP MP Glenn Thibeault was recently in the House foyer going over notes for a French TV interview. The Ontario MPfor Sudbury has been trying to work on his French in an effort to become bilingual. Thibeault comes from a francophone family. When he was younger, his parents sent him to a French immersion school. One of his teachers told him he must learn “French” French and not Quebec French and his parents were so insulted they pulled him out and put him into a regular English school where he lost all his French. He’s currently taking three hours a week of French lessons. He is the youngest in his family and now gets his siblings and parents to speak only French to him—“even if I don’t understand,” he jokes.
SHE’S THAT FABULOUS
Jer’s Vision fifth anniversary gala in Ottawa celebrated those who have helped battle bullying and homophobia. The event was hosted by Global National anchor Kevin Newman, who spoke publicly for the first time about his gay son, Alex Newman. Kevin Newman was the first person to interview NDP MP Libby Davies on TV when she came out. At last year’s event, Davies won a Youth Role Model of the Year award. This time one went to Liberal MP Hedy Fry. One of the youth who nominated Fry noted in a letter that he realized he was gay and went to a Pride parade where he met the MP. “When I asked her what it was like to be gay, she said she was not gay but she was proud to stand with another individual and celebrate working toward equality. I was inspired how someone could be so fabulous, and not even be gay.”
THANKS FOR THE SHIRT, I THINK
During his visit to Ottawa, New Zealand PM John Key was presented with an Olympic Team Canada hockey jersey by Stephen Harper. In return, Key presented Harper with a very fitted New Zealand All Blacks rugby shirt. Harper quipped that the New Zealand PM would have an easier time getting into the baggy hockey jersey than he would getting into his gift.
THE VERY LAST ALL-PARY PARTY
NDP MP Peter Stoffer says April 28 will be the last All-Party Party. The bash has been held in 200 West Block for years, but now the building will be closed as of this summer for several years for renovations and asbestos removal. Stoffer says there is not a large enough space elsewhere on the Hill to accommodate MPs and Hill staff, and also that if it were held somewhere else, it would be too costly.
By Aaron Wherry with Chris Sorensen - Friday, April 16, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 49 Comments
Shooting down a star
As Parliament resumed on Monday, seat No. 46 in the House of Commons—the spot immediately visible to television viewers over Stephen Harper’s right shoulder when the Prime Minister rises to speak—was no longer assigned to Helena Guergis, the photogenic Conservative for Simcoe-Grey. The former minister of state for the status of women had been officially banished to seat No. 153, a spot about as far as one can get from the Prime Minister without leaving the House. In her place sat Denis Lebel, the generally unremarkable minister of state for economic development in Quebec.
“She was one of the breakthrough MPs in 2004,” says Tim Powers, a Conservative strategist. “Remember the history of the Conservative party. The argument was: when the party was united we’d win more seats, we’d win more seats in areas like her riding. She won a seat, she was a loyal performer for the Prime Minister, she was hard-working, at least it appeared in the early days. Certainly, she fit a demographic and gender profile that accelerated her chances of getting into cabinet. So she had some opportunities and she took advantage of them, until she lost sight of who she was.”
Seven months after her husband, former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, was charged with drunk driving and drug possession, Guergis is now the subject of allegations serious enough to be referred to the RCMP. Whenever she next appears in the House, she will sit as an unwanted independent MP, unceremoniously ostracized from her party. And whatever else comes of the charges against her, she would seem now to personify the very antithesis of everything Conservatives hope to represent. “I think they truly became, in that old Reform term, ‘Ottawashed,’ ” Powers says of Jaffer and Guergis. “That they were given a lot of opportunities at a young age and they believed they were somewhat invincible.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 12, 2010 at 3:55 PM - 27 Comments
Helena Guergis has been banished to seat #153 in the far corner of the right side of the House.
Taking her seat in the place that will be immediately visible to TV viewers over the Prime Minister’s right shoulder is Denis Lebel.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:10 AM - 13 Comments
Heritage Minister James Moore held a special screening of the Quebec film De Père…
Heritage Minister James Moore held a special screening of the Quebec film De Père en Flic at the National Gallery of Canada. Moore (right) is below with the film’s star, Michel Côté.
Seated together in the theatre were Denis Coderre (right), who resigned in a huff as the Liberals’ Quebec Lieutenant, and Pablo Rodriguez, who was named president of the federal Liberal Quebec caucus after Montreal MP Marc Garneau replaced Coderre.