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Emmanuella Lambropoulos stuns the Liberals: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who’s up in the nation’s capital? A resurgent former prime minister. Who’s down? A senator who defends the ‘good deeds’ of residential schools.


 

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A surprising Liberal nomination goes down in Montreal. A senator wants Canadians to look on the bright side when it comes to residential schools. 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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EMMANUELLA LAMBROPOULOS

The Liberal nomination race in the Montreal seat vacated by Stéphane Dion had drawn criticism that party HQ was trying to install its preferred candidate, former Quebec cabinet minister Yolande James. Instead, Lambropoulos, a 26-year-old high school teacher—the only one of the three candidates who lives in the riding—won and James finished third. The Saint-Laurent seat is such a Liberal stronghold that she’s virtually guaranteed to become an MP after the April 3 by-election. And the party can now point to an outcome that visibly stunned even the winner to argue the fix was not in.

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JAMES COWAN

Against several layers of long odds, the retired senator saw his private member’s bill, which prohibits genetic discrimination on the part of insurance companies requiring DNA tests for coverage, pass into law. The Prime Minister opposed the bill and ordered his cabinet to vote against it on the grounds it was “unconstitutional”—because it would regulate insurance companies and therefore tread on provincial toes. But thanks to support from the Liberal back bench, along with all Tory, NDP and Green MPs, S-201 passed. After steering the bill through the Senate, when he retired, Cowan handed it off to MP Rob Oliphant to shepherd through the House of Commons.

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BRIAN MULRONEY

The strange and sudden re-emergence of the former prime minister on the political stage continues. This week, it emerged that Mulroney is working with the Liberal government to try to secure the release of a Chinese-Canadian billionaire spirited away under bizarre circumstances from a hotel lobby in Hong Kong. Mulroney has, apparently, pushed the issue onto the Global Affairs priority list and across Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s desk, even as he also plays a key role in helping the Liberal government forge ties with the Trump administration in Washington.

WHO’S DOWN:

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MAXIME BERNIER

New polls this week cement his status as the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership race, but Bernier was also outed in an ugly little episode. He is one of five Tory leadership hopefuls who gave interviews to Kevin J. Johnson, a self-styled “independent” journalist who lobs racist, pro-white rants online, including a promise to be there “with a big, fat smile” to film MP Iqra Khalid, author of the anti-Islamophobia motion M-103, being shot by a “gun nut.” But unlike the other candidates, who were button-holed at public events for brief chats on camera and may plausibly have had no idea who was interviewing them, Bernier agreed to a one-hour phone interview with Johnson. He has yet to personally disavow the man’s odious views.

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LYNN BEYAK

The senator, appointed by Stephen Harper in 2013, rose in the Red Chamber to decry at length how everyone has overlooked the “kindly and well-intentioned” staff and “remarkable works (and) good deeds” of the residential school system. It wasn’t the first time Beyak has advanced such jaw-dropping views, either. “I was disappointed in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report in that it didn’t focus on the good,” she recently told a Senate committee. The commission found widespread physical, mental and sexual abuse and evidence that 6,000 children died of poor treatment while in care.

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 DON MEREDITH

The independent senator (he left the Conservative caucus in 2015 when this situation first came to light) used the “weight, prestige and notability of his office” to pursue a sexual relationship with a teenager, the Senate ethics officer said in a report released this week. Meredith used his Senate cell phone to send explicit messages to the girl, and pledged to try to secure her an internship and other favours. Lise Ricard, the ethics watchdog, believes Meredith had sex with the girl at least once before she turned 18, and several times after, though he admits only to one time after she was of age.


 

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