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Ahmed Hussen plays it cool: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who’s up in the nation’s capital? Two Conservative leadership hopefuls. Who’s down? Two of their rivals (and a rookie Liberal minister).


 

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The Immigration minister makes a graceful entry onto the national stage. As Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong rise, Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch fall. See who’s up and who’s down in and around Parliament Hill’s corridors of power. And check out the rest of our weekly power rankings.

WHO’S UP:

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Ahmed Hussen

The brand-new minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship received an intense public introduction on Jan. 29. With controversy and questions boiling about U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, Hussen held a press conference to clarify the facts on behalf of his government. Many of the questions reporters lobbed at him revolved around his personal response to the ban, as someone who immigrated from Somalia as a teenager, and Hussen handled himself with great composure.

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Maxime Bernier

His laissez-fair reaction to the widely reviled travel ban might have attracted even more criticism if Kellie Leitch hadn’t outdone him in the indifference department. And newly released Conservative fundraising figures reveal that in the fourth quarter of 2016, Bernier was again the top fundraiser among leadership candidates, with a huge lead over his nearest competitor—Leitch—in both dollars and supporters. He ended the year with more than a million dollars in his leadership race piggy bank.

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Michael Chong

He rings in among the top third of Tory leadership candidates in terms of fundraising, and a December poll showed him to be the favoured option (he has since been eclipsed by Kevin O’Leary). Chong has been trying to position himself as a centrist candidate in the race, and this week, he launched a blistering attack on the inflammatory politics he said contributed to the Quebec City killings. “This mosque attack is no accident: It’s a direct result of demagogues and wannabe demagogues playing to fears and prejudices,” he tweeted.

WHO’S DOWN:

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Kevin O’Leary

The Conservative leadership candidate may be running first in the polls, but on Thursday, he lit a fuse of public rage when he shared a social media video that appeared to be a tone-deaf, insensitive misstep. Just minutes before the first funerals were set to begin for the mosque shooting victims, O’Leary re-posted footage of himself—originally uploaded to YouTube last year—firing handguns and automatic weapons at a shooting range with the caption, “Still got my marksman chops from my days as a military cadet at Stanstead College.” His tweet was swiftly deleted.

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Karina Gould

That this is the third appearance on this list—first up, then down—for the new minister of democratic institutions is an indication of the roller-coaster of her early days in a tough portfolio. This week, immediately following the release of new mandate letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to his cabinet, Gould was trotted out to explain that the government is abandoning its campaign promise to change Canada’s first-past-the-post system. The announcement did not go over well.

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Kellie Leitch

The deliberate pot-stirring that propelled her into the most visible position in the Conservative leadership race seems to be curdling on Leitch. Her “Canadian values test” proposal has been heavily criticized in the wake of the mosque shooting—allegedly perpetrated by a Quebec man inspired by hard-right politicians—that killed six, and someone draped a banner across Leitch’s constituency office listing the names of the dead and demanding her resignation. Meanwhile, she insists her values test could apply to white supremacists, too.


 

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