By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
The former governor general talks about Haiti, responds to Julian Fantino’s concerns and lightly burns Don Cherry.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 1:01 PM - 0 Comments
Within this story about efforts to deliver foreign aid in Haiti is an intriguing anecdote about Michaelle Jean’s role in the deployment of the Canadian Forces in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.
Two years ago, Ms. Jean, then governor-general, was having dinner with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson at Rideau Hall when the earthquake struck. After working the phones, she managed to convince Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Walter Natynczyk, to send help immediately instead of waiting for an official call from the Haitian authorities.
The Governor General does hold the title of commander-in-chief, but there is probably an interesting discussion to have about the precedents and implications of a Governor General getting involved in overseas deployments.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM - 2 Comments
He’s no Adrienne Clarkson or Michaelle Jean, but the Governor General believes a quiet and steady manner suits him, and his job
Standing on the steps of Parliament Hill, behind a thin wooden podium, David Johnston is delivering his 123rd speech as Governor General. The occasion is the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ 34th Memorial Service. He speaks carefully and deliberately. “I would like to pay tribute to all of the men and women in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our communities safe throughout our history,” he says, his words echoing off the buildings of downtown Ottawa. “On behalf of all Canadians, I am grateful for all that you have done for this country.”
He returns, walking purposefully, to his seat. Later he will lay a wreath and afterwards he will greet family members of the fallen, visit briefly the memorial behind Centre Block and then slip inside for a reception in the Hall of Honour. The next morning he will fly to British Columbia, the 10th province to officially make his acquaintance (having been to the Yukon and Nunavut, he has only yet to visit the Northwest Territories). On Oct. 1, he celebrates his first anniversary as the Queen’s representative.
It has been a quiet start to his term. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, presented with a chance to rebut that adjective, he declines. “I don’t have any rebuttal,” he said in an interview last month. “I regard myself as a quiet person. As a university president for almost 27 years, [I learned that] quiet and steady and robust in the importance of the institution are good approaches.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 22, 2011 at 9:03 AM - 11 Comments
A statement issued this morning by the family of NDP leader Jack Layton.
We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 am today, Monday August 22. He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones. Details of Mr. Layton’s funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
9:36am. NDP deputy leader Libby Davies talks to reporters in St. John’s.
“He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home and I think that’s how people saw him,” Davies told reporters. “They saw him as someone who deeply, deeply cared for people. And they saw that in the campaign and all his work. They saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in, so I think people think of him as a great Canadian and we think of him as a great leader, in a political sense but (also) in a personal sense.”
He was a believer. He made that clear in the first sentences of “Speaking Out Louder:” ”Politics matters. Ideas matter. Democracy matters, because all of us need to be able to make a difference.”
9:54am. Mr. Layton’s Facebook page has become a makeshift memorial.
9:59am. Greg Fingas marks the NDP leader’s passing.
After spending a decade laying the foundation, Jack Layton has tragically died before getting to complete the house that so many said couldn’t be built. For now, there’s little to do but to offer condolences and grieve the loss of a great Canadian and friend. But hopefully Layton’s inspiration will only encourage us to finish what he started.
10:01am. A statement from the Prime Minister. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, August 15, 2011 at 2:30 PM - 4 Comments
Katrina Onstad considers the politics of emoting.
Crying men have a little more leeway. Bill Clinton knew how to work his tear ducts – or at least a quivering lip – to his advantage. Republican House Speaker John Boehner is a prodigious weeper. Perhaps because it’s still rare, a man displaying emotion can deepen his public image, gesturing toward reservoirs of feeling. But for Bill’s wife, one teary appearance in 2008 revealed a mass of confusing attitudes around women crying. While some female voters responded to a humanized Hillary Clinton, TV pundits jeered at the bawling chick who couldn’t take it in the big leagues. Her crying didn’t expand the public’s impression of her; it reduced it. In other words: “What is she – on her period?”
Michaelle Jean’s tearful statement after the earthquake Haiti was one of the defining moments of her term as Governor General and the residential schools apology in the House was an altogether emotional day—consider, for instance, Jack Layton’s speech—but otherwise there aren’t many (any?) recent displays of emotion in the Canadian context that come to mind.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 1:08 PM - 8 Comments
JJ McCullough questions some of the gushing over our apparently monarchist Prime Minister.
Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth for the first time in 1999, Opposition Leader Harper said he enjoyed the experience, but nevertheless felt the need to preface his comments by warning that “I’m not a strong monarchist, I’m really not.” In his wonderfully cynical 1997 US speech on the Canadian system of government, all he could likewise muster about the role of the Crown was a dryly comic observation that “our executive is the Queen, who doesn’t live here.” At his first throne speech, Harper similarly ditched the longstanding practice of wearing a full Victorian “morning suit” with striped pants and vest, outraging some monarchists at the time for his sartorial casualness on a royal occasion.
As far as I can tell, dismissive gestures like these are every bit as relevant to Harper’s understanding of the monarchy as his other, more cloying noises of support. Like most members of the Canadian political class, Harper politely respects the monarchy to the extent he is supposed to. He has no desire to change the status quo, but is not unaware of its absurdities and ironies, either. This is a position of pragmatism and institutional conservatism, and the republican in me doesn’t care much for it. But robust monarchism it is certainly not.
That first quote from Mr. Harper is actually from a 2002 interview, in which the leader of the opposition pronounced his meeting with the Queen to be the highlight of his year. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 11:19 AM - 28 Comments
Nicholas A. MacDonald and James W.J. Bowden argue that the Governor General should not refuse a request to prorogue Parliament.
This paper does not intend to ignore or gloss over the way that the prorogations of 1873 and 2008 unfolded in reality; clearly the majority of the political actors – certainly Lord Dufferin and Michaelle Jean themselves – believed that the Office of the Governor General possessed the reserve power to accept or reject the prime minister’s request. But based on the available evidence, we can only conclude that the governor general’s reserve power ought not to apply to prorogation.
By Mitchel Raphael - Monday, February 14, 2011 at 10:29 AM - 3 Comments
For the second year, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami presented A Taste of the Arctic, this time in the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada. While there were long lineups for the muskox, halibut and shrimp stations, the one featuring seal meat was less popular. Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics, claimed the seal meat was delicious, if hard to taste because of the heavy sauce. ITK president Mary Simon arrived with her leg in a cast. (Ottawa is plagued with leg injuries: not only is Treasury Board President Stockwell Day in a cast, Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn injured his leg in a snowmobile accident.)
The keynote speaker for Taste of the Arctic was former governor general Michaëlle Jean, now a UNESCO special envoy to Haiti. This was Jean’s first official event since stepping down as GG. Jean, who has bought a house in Ottawa, is happy she was able to stay there for work as it allows her daughter to continue at her school and keep her same friends. Also in attendance was Nick Javor of Tim Hortons, who noted that the company recently opened three kiosks (offering a limited menu) in Nunavut.
The entertainment included Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac. During Isaac’s set, which closed the evening, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq starting rocking out on the dance floor and got people moving. Laureen Harper was so impressed with the singer she quipped she was going to “lobby” Heritage Minister James Moore to have Isaac perform for Canada Day on Parliament Hill. Mrs. Harper joked she might have to hire a professional lobbyist because last year she tried to recommend a band she saw in a bar but nothing happened.
How can I be cool if…
Last week, Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti received his new BlackBerry Torch, the latest handheld device to offer both a keypad and touch-screen option. Pacetti was told by the Commons telecommunications department he was the first MP to get the Torch, which made him feel pretty hip—until he was also told senators had been getting Torches since the end of 2010.
Liberal conspiracy theory
There was much grumbling by Liberals on the Hill when news hit that Rocco Rossi, the former national director of the Liberal party who helped recruit Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff into federal politics, was going to run provincially for Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives in Ontario. At the same time, federal Liberals say quietly that should the Ontario Liberals be defeated before the next federal election it would bode well for them because Ontario would be looking to balance provincial and federal power. Was Rossi’s move all part of some secret plan?
In the last election, Liberal MP Justin Trudeau took the riding of Papineau from Bloc MP Vivian Barbot. With election fever in the air, Barbot, who still works on the Hill for her party, says she plans to go for round two against Trudeau, but only if there’s an election before she turns 70 on July 7.
Harper’s card to Helena
Officials in the PMO say that when they told Stephen Harper that Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer had a baby, the PM instructed his staff to send a card, which they did, sometime in December. (A recent item in Capital Diary had Jaffer reporting he did not get any congratulatory message from the PM.) Jaffer explains that when he and Helena collected items, including flowers from Green party Leader Elizabeth May from Guergis’s Hill office on Jan. 18 (the day Capital Diary went to press), there was no card from the PM, but that one arrived a few days later. It was much appreciated, he says. Apparently there are no hard feelings: his wife, he notes, has put out signals she would be willing to come back to the Conservative party if the PM invited her.
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, February 11, 2011 at 11:36 AM - 5 Comments
For a second year, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) presented A Taste of the Arctic:…
For a second year, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) presented A Taste of the Arctic: A Celebration of Inuit Culture. This time the event was held in the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada. Below, Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics (left), signs ITK president Mary Simon’s cast.
Former GG Michaëlle Jean (left) and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 8:53 AM - 74 Comments
At the risk of dwelling upon the Prime Minister’s words, it is probably worth noting all of the questions raised by Mr. Harper’s offhand remark last week about the December 2008 coalition—questions that might be asked of Mr. Harper and probably should be asked of the Governor General.
First, a useful reminder of events. The 2008 election occurred on October 14. On November 19, the House reconvened and the Throne Speech was presented. Eight days later, on November 27, the government presented its economic update. Shortly after, the Throne Speech passed the House.
On the evening of November 28, with that update facing mounting criticism, the Prime Minister announced that an opposition day scheduled for December 1, the following Monday, would be pushed back a week—thereby postponing a vote of non-confidence the Liberals intended to bring.
On December 1, the coalition accord was signed and Stephane Dion sent a letter to Michaelle Jean informing her of his ability to form a government. Three days later, on December 4, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament and she granted his request.
All of which makes the Prime Minister’s contention that the opposition parties “waited too long” and were thus “too late,” all the more curious. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, December 6, 2010 at 12:00 PM - 14 Comments
Her tenure as governor general had real drama—the seal heart, prorogation—but that’s not what we’ll remember
One month before she left Rideau Hall, Michaëlle Jean visited Montreal north, the scene two years earlier of a police shooting and a subsequent night of rioting, to listen to the hopes and fears of the neighbourhood’s young people. She wanted to know what was happening and what might be done. She wanted to hear their ideas and solutions. She sat and listened as they variously explained, ranted and pleaded. And she called on them to move forward with the belief that together they could effect change.
Her five years were otherwise defined by so much else—from a constitutional crisis on Parliament Hill, a war in Afghanistan and her tears for Haiti to her fashion sense and hairstyle. Her selection to the vice-regal position was as scorned as it was heralded—her loyalty, and her husband’s, to the country were questioned even while she was celebrated as the personification of all that this country promised. In granting Stephen Harper a prorogation of Parliament when the government seemed set to topple, she presided over one of the most substantive decisions a governor general has ever made in this country. She comforted the families of fallen soldiers and donned a military uniform as commander-in-chief to salute the troops. She sampled seal heart to demonstrate solidarity with the North.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, November 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM - 0 Comments
Sure, we were not successful in winning a seat on the security council, but hey, look over there: pandas!
The federal Conservatives have been dabbling in panda politics for several months now, hoping that improved relations over the past year or so would convince Chinese officials to lend two pandas to Canada. In May, Treasury Board president Stockwell Day presented a panda proposal to high-ranking Chinese politicians. In July, then-governor general Michaelle Jean also made a pitch to bring the bamboo-eating animals to Canada during a tour of the Chengdu Panda Base with Prentice and other officials, pressing the governor of Sichuan province, home to the vast majority of China’s pandas.
“It is an indication of just how far we’ve come in terms of the relationship. The Chinese are very careful about the pandas and where they allow long-term transfers,” Prentice added.
By Julia McKinnell - Friday, October 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
It starts with knowing your type. Are you a 3, like Laureen Harper?
When Valerie Monroe, beauty director for O magazine, revealed her top tip for an article asking “Do You Love the Way You Look?”, Carol Tuttle, a psychotherapist turned beauty adviser, took issue, calling the advice ridiculous. Munroe told O readers that, in order to love her own face, she lowers the bar. “I picture a face with little piggy eyes, a drooping, fleshy nose, a wet slash of a mouth, the whole thing sallow and sagging, really something awful. I prepare myself for this unpleasantness right before I look in the mirror.”
Tuttle took her Oprah outrage to YouTube. “I’m shocked. Oprah, come on! I’m going to think of the most horrible, awful-looking ugly face I can imagine and then look at myself and think, I’m not so bad? You basically should’ve written, ‘Honey, you’re just not attractive.’ You’re basically telling women, ‘You can’t be beautiful, so think of the ugliest face you can imagine, and then you’re not going to look so dang awful to yourself.’ This pisses me off, people.” As Tuttle told Maclean’s, “It’s disconcerting how many women have put themselves in the category of, ‘I’m not a beautiful woman. I have other talents.’ ”
For the last seven years, Tuttle has been teaching women how to “capture” their beauty with her course, “Dressing Your Truth.” “Most women do not know how truly beautiful they are,” she writes in her book of the same name. The problem for most women, she believes, is that they don’t know what “type” they are and are therefore “misunderstood.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Berlusconi strikes again, Justin Bieber as wedding singer, and B.C. investigates the alleged bunny killer
Her future’s so bright
Carrying not one but two glasses of bubbly, Beth Ditto trotted the catwalk for Jean Paul Gauthier at Paris Fashion Week. Ahead of the show, the U.K.’s size-28 singer discussed her weight with a British TV host: “One of the most tiring parts of being fat and being proud of it is you do a lot of proving yourself.”
Or an old-fashioned prorogue
Former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Fortier has a novel idea to eliminate the constant threat of a referendum in Quebec: make the province hold one every 15 years, with no option to hold another in the intervening years. “As a federalist, I’d prefer that we didn’t hold them anymore,” he said. “But I’m a realist.” Unfortunately for Fortier, novel ideas aren’t necessarily good ones. Federalist politicians across the country were quick to pan the proposal. “I’m sure there are better things to schedule every 15 years,” said PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas, “like a high school reunion.”
Because the camera doesn’t lie
He’s as sharp on TV as he was on the stump, but Eliot Spitzer is still fighting the creep factor in his new role as co-host of the new CNN talk show, Parker Spitzer. “Crossfire meets Moonlighting” is how the New York Times television writer Alessandra Stanley described the show, noting an ill-advised air of flirtatiousness between the former New York governor and fellow host Kathleen Parker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with conservative leanings. Seated cheek to cheek behind a round table strewn with newspapers, the pair traded smiles and interrupted each other like second-marriage newlyweds, as they chewed over political news of the day with guests. Clearly, we’re supposed to forget the call-girl scandal that chased Spitzer from office. But his tight smile and darting eyes make it hard to suspend disbelief.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
On proroguing Parliament, her critics, and why she thinks Canadians felt a connection to her
Michaëlle Jean’s term as governor general ends this week with the instalment of her successor, David Johnston. In one of her final interviews as the Queen’s representative, Jean reflects on what was at turns an inspiring, controversial and consequential five years in office and looks forward to her building the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, dedicated to continuing her outreach with young people, and her work with the United Nations as a special envoy to Haiti.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, October 3, 2010 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Peter Russell discloses another consideration within Rideau Hall that December day.
In fact, though, Jean did believe there was a Plan B and that it did involve going over the head of the governor general — not to the Queen, but to the Canadian people, as loyal Harper cabinet minister John Baird had warned in a CBC-TV interview. Plan B, Jean and her constitutional advisers believed, would involve a direct, public-relations assault on the legitimacy of the governor general and her decision. That, and not an appeal to the Queen, was far more concerning to Jean on Dec. 4, 2008.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM - 0 Comments
Peter Russell, a constitutional advisor to Michaelle Jean, says that before she agreed to prorogue Parliament, the Prime Minister committed to return to the House in short order and to do so with a budget that could pass.
This is perhaps the second bit of significant insight to come from one of Ms. Jean’s advisors since that day in December 2008. Last January, Peter Hogg reportedly observed that the coalition’s quick collapse demonstrated that the Governor General had made the correct decision.
To those dots, of course, you can add what the Governor General herself added this week.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
More from the Prime Minister’s Office on the alleged contemplation, this time in comments to the CBC.
The Prime Minister’s Office says today: “that assertion is false. The issue of the Queen is false.” The PMO says it isn’t true because at the time it felt the government had the confidence of the House since it voted in favour of the Throne Speech roughly a month earlier, saying Harper felt the decision to prorogue Parliament was an “open and shut matter” for the GG.
The PMO says: “there was no such contemplation required.”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
The Governor General has posted a farewell message, looking back on her term and casting ahead to her foundation and her work with the UN.
Her parting speech to the Canadian Forces, delivered during a ceremony in Ottawa yesterday, is also available here.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 9:25 AM - 0 Comments
So perhaps, as reported in Lawrence Martin’s new book, the Prime Minister contemplated the possibility of appealing in some way to the Queen in the event that the Governor General refused his request for prorogation in December 2008.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 12:15 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon I sat down with the Governor General for one of her final interviews before she leaves Rideau later this week. A fuller accounting of that conversation will appear in this week’s issue of the magazine, but for now, here is what was asked and what was said about the decision to grant the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue Parliament in 2008. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 12:47 PM - 0 Comments
With little more than two days remaining in her mandate, Michaelle Jean addressed a farewell reception on Parliament Hill a short time ago.
Breaking down solitudes, according to my motto, ending isolation and building on our desire to live together: these were and remain the objectives of the governor general who stands before you today, a woman born in a country where the social foundations had collapsed, where power was exercised brutally to the detriment of all, a woman who was extraordinarily lucky to be able to pursue her dreams in a country where anything is possible, our country.
And with this luck came great responsibility. The responsibility to spread hope and, as much as possible, give it the means to be realized.