By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
Philippe Couillard reveals his ‘pet project’
Newly minted Quebec Liberal party Leader Philippe Couillard is a trained surgeon, an occasional businessman and an amateur fly-fisher. Yet he is best known as a consummate politician who has long held designs on the leadership of the party. In 2008, put off by then-leader Jean Charest’s stubborn hold on power, Couillard resigned as health minister and went into business. He also went fly-fishing on occasion. Both pursuits landed him in hot water.
Following his resignation, Couillard joined Persistence Capital Partners (PCP), a private equity fund “focused on high-growth opportunities in the health care field,” according to PCP’s website. That a former health minister would join a for-proﬁt health care fund ruffled a few feathers, though it shouldn’t have; after all, Quebec has the largest network of private medical clinics in the country.
But Couillard’s association with Arthur Porter, former CEO of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), has become a sizable blemish on Couillard’s otherwise impressive political resumé. Once the darling of Quebec’s medical establishment, Porter has since been charged with fraud in relation to alleged bribes he received from SNC-Lavalin in return for the contract to build the MUHC’s new megahospital. Porter, who says he has has advanced lung cancer, is holed up in his Bahamas compound. He has said he is too sick to travel to face the charges.
By Mitchel Raphael - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM - 0 Comments
Photos by Mitchel Raphael
Liberals gathered at the Westin Hotel for their annual holiday party. Northern Ontario MP Bruce Hyer, who quit the NDP to sit as an Independent, was the date of Liberal leadership candidate and MP Joyce Murray.
By Erica Alini - Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 2:06 PM - 23 Comments
The worst level in a generation? Think again."Young Canadians face other challenges – including the worst level of joblessness in a generation"- Michael Ignatieff
April 11, 2011
Bull Meter score:
Michael Ignatieff is exaggerating here. The unemployment rate among 15 to 24 year-olds has been hovering around 14.4 per cent for the first three months of this year. It’s by no means a rosy picture, but the figure is significantly down from where it stood at the peak of the recession in 2009: an annualized rate of 15.2 per cent. Even that, though, was not extraordinarily bad by historical standards: youth unemployment hit 16.3 per cent in 1997, and reached an annualized rate of 17.2 per cent during the early 1990s economic crisis. Joblessness among the young was also considerably worse during the economic downturn of the early 1980s, when it hit 19.2 per cent in 1983.
Heard something that doesn’t sound quite right? Send quotes from the campaign trail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you just how much bull they contain.
By Mitchel Raphael - Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 9:25 PM - 21 Comments
Liberal MP Hedy Fry squeezed in a fundraiser to help with the debt she…
Liberal MP Hedy Fry squeezed in a fundraiser to help with the debt she incurred from her leadership run in 2006. The event was held at Ottawa’s hot new gay bar Flamingo. Below, Fry and Bob Rae do a tribute to Sonny and Cher.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau.
By John Geddes - Monday, April 4, 2011 at 9:17 AM - 23 Comments
Days into a contest of meanness, a surprisingly clear contrast on honest-to-goodness platforms has suddenly emerged
In the final days leading up to the campaign of 2011, Stephen Harper largely dropped out of sight. The Prime Minister stopped showing up for question period when his government’s fall became inevitable. After the opposition voted down his Conservative minority, he read a muted response from a podium in the ornate foyer of the House, and took no questions. There was reason to suspect he might be setting the tone for the race to come. After all, polls showed him well ahead, and a classic, minimalist front-runner’s strategy would be to do nothing to risk shaking things up. But Harper had other ideas.
From the steps of Rideau Hall after visiting the Governor General to set the campaign in motion, and at every stop after, he lashed out at his main rival, Michael Ignatieff—accusing the Liberal leader of intending to break his word and join forces with the NDP and Bloc Québécois. In return, Ignatieff indicted Harper for “a systematic pattern of falsehoods.” “He wouldn’t recognize the truth if it walked up and shook his hand,” he said.
By Julia Belluz - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 6:35 PM - 63 Comments
In his family memoir, The Russian Album, Ignatieff describes his relatives as a group…"My family lost everything in the Russian revolution. They started over again in Canada. They came here with nothing."- Michael Ignatieff
March 20, 2011
Bull Meter score:
In his family memoir, The Russian Album, Ignatieff describes his relatives as a group of privileged, well educated, and well-heeled Russians, who seemed to recover quickly from a tumultuous decade of resettlement following the Bolshevik Revolution. Paul, his grandfather, served as the last Minister of Education in the last Cabinet of the Tsar Nicholas II, and was friends with the likes of Vladimir Nabokov. Paul’s father was a Russian diplomat. Paul’s wife (Ignatieff’s grandmother) was born Princess Natasha Mestchersky on an estate, and travelled to Paris to learn the “rudiments of cooking” at Le Cordon Bleu.
According to the memoirs of Ignatieff’s late father George, The Making of a Peacemonger, when the family fled Russia as the revolution was unfolding, they ended up in London in 1919 with £25,000 in the bank. After living on a country estate for almost a decade, they moved to a rented farm in Montreal, with much of their wealth depleted. But by the time George reached high school, the Ignatieffs had the financial wherewithal to send him to the prestigious prep school, Lower Canada College. They also had connections: a contact of prime minister Mackenzie King fast tracked the family’s citizenship so George could go off to Oxford University on the Rhodes Scholarship in 1936. As Michael Ignatieff notes in The Russian Album, “[My father] presented himself to the world throughout my childhood as the model of an assimilated Canadian professional.”
Alas, it’s a stretch for Ignatieff to say his family came to Canada with “nothing.” To their credit, they made a seemingly successful transition to Canadian life, and rose quickly up the social ladder here.
Heard something that doesn’t sound quite right? Send quotes from the campaign trail to email@example.com and we’ll tell you just how much bull they contain.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:02 PM - 118 Comments
You are looking live… at your computer, where, if you so desire, by-election results for Vaughan, Winnipeg-North and Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette will be posted gradually after polls close at 9:30pm EST.
Elections Canada results will appear here. Wikipedia profiles for the respective ridings are available here, here and here. 308′s election day projections have the Tories taking Vaughan, the NDP holding Winnipeg and the Tories holding Dauphin. Vaughan will be your narrative-defining contest of the evening.
For however long as seems necessary, I’ll be here with updates, tangents and the like. Feel free to leave questions in the comments below and I’ll try to offer snappy or thoughtful responses as time warrants. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 10:33 AM - 16 Comments
The NDP says the Conservatives and Liberals have conspired to extend the mission in Afghanistan. Evangelical leader Charles McVety says someone in the government told him that the Conservatives and NDP have a deal to pass a bill on human rights for the transgendered. And the Hill Times says that the Conservatives are in cahoots with the Bloc Quebecois to keep the government in power and fund a hockey arena in Quebec City.
Thus are the Greens, the only party not presently said to be cooperating in any manner with any other party, well-positioned to benefit at the next election from an anti-coalition vote.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
Alex Himelfarb considers how progressives can respond to anger.
Canadians deserve an alternative that recognizes that, yes, the system is failing the poor and squeezing the middle and that more of the same won’t cut it; that we are all made weaker when inequality deepens, our environment deteriorates, and our democratic institutions erode; that only through greater equality and democratic revitalisation can citizens retake some measure of control of their lives and their country. A laissez-faire approach of ever lower taxes and less government simply gives a free reign to the very rich and powerful – but in the end serves no one’s interest. Yes we do need to reinvent government, but not to undermine it. We need to open up government, focus it on what it does best, show the value citizens are getting for their taxes, and challenge citizens to get engaged and share responsibility for the future.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 3:38 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Topp explains how the left should respond to what the right is currently selling.
They say government is too big. We should say poverty, unemployment, and injustice are too big.
They say taxes are too high. We should say there are more important things to tackle right now than reducing taxes for rich people.
They say they’ll give everyone some of their money back. We should say paying for tax cuts by running deficits is theft from our children.
They say it’s time to sell off and privatize schools, hospitals and public services. We should say there are some important things best done together – like good public education for our kids and good health care no matter how big your wallet is.
By Colby Cosh - Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 2 Comments
It’s politics, and it’s what politicians do.
“You can only be bloody and unbowed to a point,” grumbled a frustrated Liberal candidate, calling upon the opposition parties to stop splitting their vote against a monolithic right-wing governing party. “We have passed that point.” The Liberal brand, he complained in an election-night interview, should be abandoned in favour of uniting the parties on the progressive side.
“We would have to get by the personal pride of the leaders and the hollow speeches,” he ventured. But he had spoken with “high leaders” in opposition, he said, and “had found agreement with his views.”
By John Geddes - Saturday, June 19, 2010 at 10:01 PM - 63 Comments
GEDDES: The Liberal leader is in a deep political funk with no easy way out
Only a true foreign policy wonk would expect to be stirred up by a document called “Canada in the World: A Global Networks Strategy.” But the platform paper unveiled by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff with a major speech in Toronto this week tossed more red meat in the direction of his demoralized hard-core partisans than the title hinted.
On its way to detailing a new Liberal approach on everything from Afghanistan to doing business with Asia’s economic giants, the paper swerves to slam Stephen Harper in a style more typical of a campaign stump speech than a policy blueprint.
By Paul Wells - Friday, June 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 97 Comments
WELLS: A reverse oracle, Ignatieff mastered making things happen by insisting they wouldn’t
Nobody who was there will ever forget the day Jean Chrétien came back to politics. It was a perfect sunny day at the edge of summer in Toronto. An eerie quiet reigned over the G20 media centre. The only action worth mentioning was a technical briefing on agriculture policy by the Japanese deputy chargé d’affaires. Suddenly an ominous burbling sound emanated from the fake lake. Without any more fuss, the 20th prime minister of Canada rose up out of the water, dressed in a navy two-piece as if for lunch at Hy’s.
A watching cameraman opened his mouth in a silent “O” of surprise, only to discover that a golf ball had somehow wedged itself between his teeth. Pierre Trudeau rowed past Chrétien in a canoe, wearing a buckskin jacket, and offered to lend a hand.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 25 Comments
“Perspective” in Ottawa generally means an ability to remember what happened two weeks ago and, alas, Goat Boy was passed over when the television networks were last hiring. So here is a table of voter intention polling by Environics between 1978 and 2001. For the sake of the present discussion, note Liberal numbers throughout most of the 80s, particularly at the end of 1988, and then in late 1990 and early 1991.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:55 PM - 3 Comments
Now listen here
“The practice of discouraging the reading of speeches is of British derivation,” the official guide to House of Commons procedure explains, “and was intended to maintain the cut and thrust of debate, which depends upon successive speakers addressing to some extent in their speeches the arguments put forward by previous speakers.” This standard for spontaneous rhetoric has long since passed—but the ability to speak freely, as opposed to merely stand and read, is still what defines the House’s best orators. To be able to ask a question, listen to the response and react appropriately is, within the ornate walls of this House of Commons, a rare gift. And so it is perhaps the first thing one notices when Bob Rae rises to participate in debate or question period.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 9, 2010 at 10:00 AM - 7 Comments
Is it time to consider new ways of choosing a governor general?
In a contribution to Parliamentary Democracy in Crisis—a collection of essays published shortly after Stephen Harper escaped defeat to a Liberal-NDP coalition in December 2008—York University professor Brian Slattery presents what might be the worst-case scenario for Canadian democracy: a governor general made to deal with an incumbent government that, though defeated in an election, refuses to relinquish power. “It is her role,” Slattery writes, “to ensure that the principle of responsible government is observed and not flouted . . . She is the ultimate protector of the constitutional order.”
Whatever else Michaëlle Jean might eventually be remembered for, this could be her legacy. In negotiating the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue the House of Commons in December 2008, and another controversial prorogation last December, she may have re-established the viceregal as something more than a reminder of Canada’s heritage.
“We’re likely to have minority Parliaments for the foreseeable future,” says Sujit Choudhry, a University of Toronto constitutional law professor. “The governor general is going to find him or herself in the midst of a political thicket quite often. So being thoroughly familiar with the operations of parliamentary government and knowing who to take advice from, and not being afraid to call political leaders on their interpretations of these conventions, I think would be very good.”
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, March 26, 2010 at 9:41 AM - 100 Comments
9:36am. First things first, a requisite description of the surroundings. The conference centre at the Hyatt Regency doesn’t look anything like a conference centre. It looks like a terribly hip Swedish bar. The light fixtures are these silver blobby things hanging from the ceiling and the walls at either end of the room are emitting red light. The foyer is all white light and includes an actual bar. I believe the Cardigans are playing a set here tomorrow afternoon.
9:57am. Paul Martin has arrived. Let the party renewal commence. Continue…
By Andrew Potter - Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 10:49 AM - 83 Comments
With no one to yell at, the party has done some useful policy work
Looking for a Liberal in Ottawa last fall was like a trip into the heart of darkness. You would eventually find a crew of them, hunched over the latest polling data in some dark corner of the Centre Block, where they’d give you the 1,000-yard stare and mutter quietly about the party lacking leadership and direction. The whole miserable session culminated in the legendary Night of the Long Faces, when a group of Liberals repaired to a bar at the Chateau Laurier for a bitch session that the Toronto Star breathlessly reported as a nascent coup being mounted by Bob Rae to topple Michael Ignatieff.
Everything is relative, more so in politics, but in the early months of 2010 it is suddenly a good time to be a Liberal. It’s easy to find Liberals on the Hill these days; with the government off “recalibrating” its agenda, they are striding around like they own the place. And why not? Ever since Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament over the Christmas holidays, the polling gap between the Conservatives and the Liberals has vanished, and for the past three weeks, Ekos tracking polls have had the two parties in a dead heat.
The received wisdom is that the Tory lead (which before Christmas one pollster called “entrenched”) vanished because of public anger over the prorogation, and many pundits have suggested that Harper’s inability to pass up an opportunity to show how clever he is has backfired once again. And there certainly appears to be something to that. Most people are genuinely annoyed that Parliament is not sitting, probably for the simple reason that most people don’t get to simply decide not to go to work for two months, least of all in the dead of winter.
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 12:20 PM - 0 Comments
A lifelong Liberal, he only faced two opponents during more than 20 years as a popular town councillor
Joseph Pierre Adélard Lambert was born in Joliette, Que., on Nov. 21, 1939, to Antonio Lambert, a tailor, and Yvonne Poirier, a secretary. Known as Pierre, he worked throughout his high school years, at one point as the projectionist at Cinéma Venus, Joliette’s movie theatre. He liked movies but liked being busy even more. Struck by the young man’s work ethic, Roger Cloutier, who ran the local farmer’s co-op, taught him the rudiments of running a business. Soon, Pierre was the co-op’s accountant.
He met Lise Lasalle at a baseball game in 1961. Baseball enthralled Pierre, but he noticed Lise’s green eyes, brown hair and (soon enough) her remarkable calm in the face of his bluster; they married in September 1962 and had three children together: Martine, François and Bruno.
Pierre left the co-op in 1975 and opened his own accounting firm. He was also president of the local chapter of Quebec’s construction association. This, his children joke, was a matter of convenience; their father could hardly hammer a nail into the wall. (He also owned a gas station, yet could barely pump his own gas.) His obsession was politics, and Pierre was a partisan among partisans whose red glasses, ties and shirts advertised his allegiance to the Liberal brand. “If you dressed a pig in red my dad probably would have voted for him,” Martine says.
He became an organizer for both the provincial and federal Liberals. His leanings made him a rare bird in Joliette, long represented federally by the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois afterwards. It was also the home riding of long-time Péquiste minister Guy Chevrette; Pierre spent years trying to find a Liberal who could unseat him,always in vain. During the 1980 referendum he worked for the No campaign, enlisting Martine to pass out buttons at her high school. He was so ecstatic at the victory that he let his daughter smoke in front of him at the after-party. (He came to regret this; Martine smokes to this day.) His own political ambitions were dampened by Lise, who was unwilling to lose her husband to Ottawa or Quebec City for a large part of the year. The stress, she said, would kill them both. Being a municipal councillor was an honourable compromise: Lise would keep her sanity, while Pierre could still keep the long-standing tradition of watching the Montreal Expos with his kids. He won a council seat in Notre-Dame-Des-Plaines, a neighbouring village to Joliette where the family lived, by acclamation in 1987. In 1992 he easily defeated his first opponent; he would only be challenged once more in his political career.
No one was ever indifferent to Pierre. Those who weren’t put off by his federalist sympathies (or his Fred Flintstone appearance and intensity) were often touched by his uncommon tenderness. He gave Alexandre Cantin, who lived in an apartment block Pierre owned and in whom Pierre saw a Lambert-like propensity to stay busy, his first job. He then helped him find work in Joliette once he graduated. “You are the most important person in my life,” Alexandre would later write.
Lise succumbed to breast cancer in 2004, and Pierre lost his life’s anchor and council. He stopped eating at home, often favouring caisses-croûte (snack bars)—or worse—for his meals. “My father was the only person I knew who could eat breakfast at a dépanneur,” says his son François. In Joliette, he often held court at La Belle Excuse, the local restaurant, whose owner would call him whenever chopped veal liver was on the menu. He guzzled Coke and drove around in his Cadillac with Shaggy, his 110-lb. Bouvier, happy but unhealthy. In 2007 he suffered an acute diabetic attack (a normal blood sugar level after a meal is between five and eight; when doctors tested Pierre’s it was at 57). He promised his kids he’d lay off the Jos. Louis cakes and try sugarless Coke.
Earlier this year, Pierre learned that Jean-Guy Forget, a former police officer, would run against him in the November elections. It was a tight race—voters were unhappy with the pace and quality of road work in town—and Pierre campaigned with even more intensity than usual. His knees hurt, he was tired all the time and, as he found out on the night of the election, the results were very close. At 10:25, François called Pierre and found him to be a nervous wreck. Minutes later, though, the good news: Pierre had won by 20 votes. Overjoyed, he drove to the community centre, where he thanked his well-wishers and volunteers. To the assembled journalists he acknowledged the close vote and said he would work for all constituents. He then suffered a heart attack and collapsed. No one could revive the freshly re-elected member for Notre-Dame-Des-Plaines. He was 69.
By Paul Wells - Monday, September 28, 2009 at 3:46 PM - 10 Comments
Jean-Marc Fournier, former Quebec provincial cabinet minister, explains (in French, to La Presse) why he was so excited to work for Michael Ignatieff.
By Philippe Gohier - Monday, September 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM - 31 Comments
The Star‘s Susan Delacourt combs the archives:
The executive of the Quebec youth wing…
The Star‘s Susan Delacourt combs the archives:
The executive of the Quebec youth wing of the Liberal Party will ask for the resignation of party leader John Turner at a news conference scheduled for Monday in Montreal.
Time has run out for Mr. Turner, Denis Coderre, the president of the Young Liberals of Quebec , said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Mr. Coderre, once a strong Turner loyalist, co-ordinated the pro-Turner youth movement at the convention that confirmed Mr. Turner’s leadership last November, and was also youth organizer during his 1984 leadership campaign.