Harjit Sajjan struggles to recover: Ottawa Power Rankings - Macleans.ca
 

Harjit Sajjan struggles to recover: Ottawa Power Rankings

Who’s up? A self-aware Deepak Obhrai. Who’s down? A humourless Liberal MP.


 

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The Senate could bring down the hammer on one of its own. The defence minister struggles to regain his footing after an embarrassing speech. 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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MAXIME BERNIER

The Quebec MP and former—and formerly infamous—cabinet minister is enjoying a comfortable lead in the Conservative leadership race now that Kevin O’Leary has dropped out and thrown support his way. New data from Elections Canada shows Bernier has the broadest geographical support—key to the wonky way votes will be counted and points allotted at the end of May—as measured by donors, with Bernier drawing the most unique contributions over the last three months in all provinces except the Prairies, where Andrew Scheer edges him.

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DEEPAK OBHRAI

O’Leary bowed out and threw his weight behind Bernier on the first ballot—though apparently he courted a few of those—and then, in a rambling and not-just-a-tiny-bit patronizing video, he knighted Obhrai as his second choice. “I’m putting Deepak in as number two. Why? I love the guy, I really do. What a trooper,” he said. “Is he going to win? No. But does he deserve my second vote? Yes.” Obhrai, who has been steadfast despite drafting in the back of the pack all along, emerges from this little plot twist as the winner—not because of O’Leary’s weird endorsement, but because of the Calgary MP’s reaction to it: “I couldn’t stop laughing.”

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THE SENATE

The red chamber’s ethics committee has unanimously recommended that Don Meredith be permanently expelled because of a two-year sexual relationship with a teenage girl. That would be a first in Canadian history. Meredith’s lawyer has suggested up to a two-year suspension without pay, but the committee argues that Meredith must be removed entirely because he has so seriously damaged the “integrity and dignity of the institution.” The decision next moves to the chamber as a whole for a vote; given the endless scandals and scrutiny that have roiled the Senate in recent years, the sternest of rebukes to Meredith’s conduct could be read as a serious commitment to reform and improved relevance.

WHO’S DOWN:

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LIBERAL FUNDRAISING

New figures show the Conservatives shovelled almost twice as much into their war chests in the first three months of this year compared to the Liberals. The Tories raised $5.3 million from about 43,000 donors compared to $2.8 million from 32,000 donors drawn in by the Liberals—on top of the $4 million raked in by Conservative leadership candidates over the same period. Political observers wonder if this signals disenchantment from the Liberal base as the government has struggled to deliver concrete results, or simply reflects the pause in fundraising events the Liberals took after furious scrutiny of so-called “cash-for-access” in the fall. Those events resume this week—under new rules the government says make them more transparent—which also means the Liberals will be under renewed scrutiny.

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STEPHEN FUHR

Let us stipulate to a few things. First: a military career is worthy of eminent respect. Second: Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole’s Top Gun meme is goofy and would have benefitted from what every single political campaign and corporate advertising department should have: a person who looks at the thing you think is a good idea but is really a bad idea, rolls their eyes and says, flatly, “No.” And third and most importantly, these other two facts are completely unrelated, no matter how much Liberal MP Fuhr, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 20 years, complains that O’Toole is laying claim to a fighter pilot career he never had.

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HARJIT SAJJAN

The defence minister got himself into trouble with a speech in India in which he claimed he had been the “architect of Operation Medusa,” a major 2006 Canadian offensive against the Taliban. Immediately, military observers pointed out the inaccuracy of that boast, and Sajjan has apologized. But the opposition isn’t about to let the matter drop. Conservative MPs say the embarrassing affair represents a pattern of dishonesty and calls into question a conflict-of-interest complaint relating to Sajjan and an inquiry into the interrogation of Afghan detainees.


 

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