Don't hold your breath -

Don’t hold your breath


Anonymous senior Conservatives are apparently agitating for Helena Guergis to be swiftly dispatched to the furthest reaches of the government backbenches. Make of this what you will.

Keep in mind that, if memory serves, no minister in the Harper government has been outright fired or banished. Michael Chong resigned as minister of intergovernmental affairs in opposition to the Quebecois motion. Maxime Bernier resigned after misplacing his briefs. Various ministers perceived to be underperforming (Gordon O’Connor, Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt) have been moved to less-prominent portfolios, but only in the context of a cabinet shuffle. No one, if I recall correctly, has ever been outright and unambiguously fired.


Don’t hold your breath

  1. Unlike Raitt however, the PMO is using all of its top surrogates to go out and slag Helena.

    Who knows whats happening behind the scenes, but it is unprecedented to have so many self identified Conservatives attacking one of their own cabinet ministers.

  2. Another one of Wherry's misleading hit-pieces.

    Just because Bernier resigned doesn't mean he wasn't pushed out. To claim that nobody has been banished is absurd – of course any minister will be given the change to resign before being fired.

    • It's also called making sure it's a one-day story instead of a one-month story, which, I suspect, is just as motivating for the PMO as "dignity and respect".

      • Yes, I agree, that's true as well. What self-respecting government would intentionally make themselves look bad?

        • You don't really want an answer, do you?

    • "It's called treating people with dignity and respect. "

      A skill Guergis should have learned long ago, apparently.

    • If there's one thing I crave in this life, it's to be banished with dignity and respect.

      By the way, I think your "shuddle" neologism is perfect – it captures the fear and movement that are part of every cabinet reorganization. From now on, we should refer to such reorganizations as "cabinet shuddles".

  3. s_c_f – what a load of barn yard byproduct!
    Typical misdirection – not addressing the point style of propaganda that the PMO typically serves up.
    Banished is banished – being permitted to resign is a far lesser punishment by comparison!
    Aaron Wherry merely reports – and if various senior unnamed Conservatives have let it be known how they feel – why shouldn't Mr. Wherry report it. After all – surely that's why they told him!

    • Reporting that "No one, if I recall correctly, has ever been outright and unambiguously fired." is like reporting that the grass is green and the sky is blue.

      Of course people are permitted to resign – even Richard Nixon resigned. Unless you want to be mean and vindicative for no apparent reason then that's how it works. If you want to be a successful politician in a democracy then you don't embarrass people for no reason. The punishment remains the same whether you want to embarrass people in public or not! You don't have a lot of class, that's for sure.

      • It is not class. Harper wouldn't know the word "class" even if you wrote it out on a giant novelty cheque. He lives for the underbelly and mud of politics. He lives for it.

        Which is why, in fact, you are partially right. Bernier was fired even if he resigned. Staffers galore have been fired even if they resigned. It's not about "class" it is about party unity and political optics. Allowing them to resign, maintains some face and therefore some loyalty among not just the minister but his/her staff and supporters as well.

        Also, if someone is fired or demoted, then Harper has to admit the party has somehow failed and is falible and his judgement in standing behind them (picking them in the first place, but publicly supporting them afterwards like with O'Connor) questioned.

  4. Aaron add Gary Lunn to the list of underperformers. Some highly questionable tactics were used during the 2008 election campaign that helped Lunn to victory. Remember Linda Keen/Chalk River? Also on Lunn's watch.

  5. Not another glass ceiling! I'm rooting for you Helena!

  6. Carol Skelton. Shuffling her out of Cabinet was supposed to be because she was retiring but unlike Greg Thompson who is on the record as resigning from Cabinet, Ms. Skelton appears to have been dropped.

  7. I think backroom Conservatives are being horribly unfair about this. Helena deserves a place in our national debates. In fact, I propose that she criss-cross the country, travelling through airports large and small, providing her vision for Canada. Heck, she could even bring Rahim along, and he could give his line on things. I think Conservatives owe it to the country to feature this bright young couple prominently in their political ads during the next campaign.

    • Some advice on the Rahim/Hellena cross-country tour:

      In the airports, let Rahim talk to Security staff. On the roads, let Hellena talk to the police.

      • Ahem, with the kind of baggies, I mean baggage, that Rahim carries, perhaps he would prefer Helena's approach to airport security. She did get on the plane after all…

        • I don't know if throwing his shoes at the judge would have gotten him any better result than he got.

    • I imagine they will be featured in political ads of the future, but for the Libs, not the cons.

  8. My my, one certainly gets the impression that things aren't quite as ship-shape on the SS Conservative as they once were.

  9. "Maxime Bernier resigned after misplacing his briefs."

    Ha! Assuming that was intentional, well done Wherry.

    Anyway, back to Guergis. I don't think her airport brouhaha, unimpressive though it was, is sufficient grounds to remove her from Cabinet. An apology should be sufficient. If one who should be banished to the Outer Backbench Territory is MacKay. I suspect that the only reason this hasn't happened is that Harper knows it would lead to a serious leadership rival (again). As the saying goes: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

    • Sincere question … that's why you think Mackay is hanging on? Not that banishing him to the back benches will look worse for the PMO because it didn't act sooner on the information it has already seen?

      • Harper owes Mackay big for the Conservative double cross. Without some semblance of party unity, Harper has no power.

        • I think it's simpler than that…getting rid of Mackay would send the message that Harper believes there are some real skeletons in the closet w.r.t Afghan detainees. Harper is not going to send that message.

          • Probably a combination of both of these. There may be skeletons in the closet that MacKay knows about. So turfing him might not only send the message, but actually release the skeletons.

            In addition, there is that Harper needs every seat he can get, and MacKay's a lock in his riding. Some other conservative candidate, without that last name, would have a much tougher fight.

          • Not likely. It's a pretty lock solid Conservative riding. My mom grew up there. They are bred Conservative.

          • Huh. Looking into it, you're right. But the % has been dropping for some time now, it just jumped up in the last election when the Dion made the Liberal candidate bow out in favor of May, but I somehow doubt she'll get the same deal with Ignatieff unless she can arrange something similar with Jack.

          • There have been Liberal MP's in the past but the riding boundaries have been "adjusted" since
            then. Currently all of the provincial ridings contained within the federal boundaries are NDP. But
            that's probably a temporary situation based on deep contempt for the latest Tory gummint.
            L'il MacKay is at greater risk than he ever has been but it's hard to imagine him ever actually
            losing. But then, it was hard to imagine Dave Dingwall losing in Cape Breton either.

        • It was huge at the time, but if that were all then Mr. MacKay has pretty much outlived his usefulness. Besides, you can never trust a traitor – once they've done your bidding it's only sensible to deep six them.

          Does Peter's daddy still have influence from his days as a Mulroney bagman? I suspect that is more to the point.

    • An interesting point, and surely Harper learned from the Chretien/Martin leadership debacle. Nonetheless, I can't help but wonder if:
      1. Perceptions of MacKay versus Bernier (on credibility, brains, etc) have anything to do with MacKay's continuing status as prominent minister; and/or
      2. MacKay's agreement to the merger of the CA/PCs stipulated he continued to hold a senior position for the duration of his tenure as MP.

      • And we all know conservatives love sticking to written agreements?

        I think John G. makes a good point with a "nothing to see here" approach of Afghanistan failings, plus maybe father's influence, and a weak bench in which a subpar performer like MacKay is actually above average for the team.

      • "MacKay's agreement to the merger of the CA/PCs stipulated he continued to hold a senior position for the duration of his tenure as MP. "

        Because keeping leadership and campaign promises has been such a fundamental and important part of who Harper is and who McKay is?

        • I'm not sure that's the point.

          I don't know the internal dynamics of the CPC (lord knows I'm not a member) but it would strike me that MacKay must have a lot of clout within the party to be where he currently sits, all issues surrounding his portfolios notwithstanding. And, if that's the case, if Harper summarily dismisses MacKay enough, MacKay could easily jump ship and take the (few) remaining moderate PC Conservatives with him.

          Why doesn't that happen? I think they have a gentleman's agreement, stemming from the negotiations to merge the CA and PC parties.

          • Assuming that MacKay was offered some type of guaranteed cabinet position all those years ago in order to get him to throw the old PC party in with the CAs, I'm wondering what that promise is worth today…..if Harper ditches MacKay today, and MacKay releases a document that shows this promise to be true, then what? Will the PC party reconstitue itself? That seems unlikely. I suppose some current CPC supporters might withhold future support…Comments?

          • I'm just saying that Harper, like McKay, doesn't seem to think he is terribly bound by any prior promises or commitments on anything so I don't think any prior agreement with McKay is what is keeping him in cabinet.

            I think it is just plain basic politics. McKay is, whatever you think of his performance, a leader in the party and certainly the leader and point person for the Maritimes. He carries a lot of support among progressive conservatives that Harper needs and represents the thin wedge of red Tories/progressive right within the party.

            Getting rid of McKay or demoting him even would hurt Harper and that is the only thing Harper cares about.

          • Getting rid of McKay or demoting him even would hurt Harper and that is the only thing Harper cares about.

            Such vitriol.

      • If it's true, perhaps. But one guy referring to "a lot of [nameless] Conservatives" doesn't hold much weight, and neither does his claim that fundraising has been hurt. How could he possibly know that last item this soon after the incident?

        • Actually, Harper likes Mckay, and I know that from a good source in Calgary.

    • LOL and Guergis lost her shoes and Raitt thinks very serious things are sexy. Quite the raunchy bunch.

  10. The Guergis incident was weeks ago; if she's turfed now, it's because of the furor over her husband's plea bargain, not her own temper tantrum. And that isn't a good reason to demote a cabinet minister, especially one responsible for women's status — unless conservative women's status is dependent on their husbands'.

    • I disagree…obviously the media are still looking to sensationalize anything that has to do with Guergis so I don't necessarily trust Fife on this…but if there is even a sliver of truth to the rumour that Guergis is considering opening up the can of worms that would be suing Air Canada, then she is literally too stupid to remain in Cabinet.

      • That's a point Fife made, no? By going on about litigation, her apology looks pretty much bogus. It looks like a self-preservation rather than sincere regret.

        That said, lack of smarts hasn't necessarily been an impediment in the Harper cabinet. There are some bright people there, but not enough to make up for the dim bulbs.

      • I am not too sure of Fife either – he's the one that has the supposed scoop that Ben Mulroney was going to run as a Liberal.

        Too much bleach in his hair I think.

        • Is not even about Gurguis is about making the Tories look bad and squeezing everyone of their mistakes for everything is worth. In my opinion big mistake, they drive people away with all their whining.

        • I believe that was a joke wasn't it?

  11. A daily reminder every day when they show the PM in Question Period, with Guergis nodding her locks in agreement in the background. Candy for the camera has since spolied. Time to turf her to the backbenches, out of view.

    • The prettiest bobblehead of them all.

    • Will be interesting to see if her seat is moved.

  12. She should be fired. Anybody else in this country who demonstrated that type of behaviour in a public place while representing their organization, would have been shown the door. Frankly, she should have been arrested after her airport antics. Anybody else would have been.

  13. I would hazard a guess that she has been asked to resign, and is so far resisting. The Conservatives are doing a ful court press to try and get her out, because they would much rather she resign than have to turf her…

    Optics, it's all optics.

  14. They would have been much sympathetic towards Ms. Guergis if her airport meltdown hadn't happened. Members of Parliament, particularly Cabinet Ministers, are expected to adhere to standards of conduct and decorum that don't permit embarrassing public tantrums in airports.

    • May I suggest this edit.

      Members of Parliament, particularly Cabinet Ministers, areEvery sane Canadian adult isexpected to adhere to standards of conduct and decorum that don't permit embarrassing public tantrums in airports.

      • I agree that all sane Canadian adults are expected to adhere to this basic standard. My comment about "standards of conduct and decorum for MPs and CabMins" was intended to be ironic; therefore, no need to edit. ;-)

  15. I have to agree with, uh, God and note the efforts PMO are making to embarrass her. (If they are not careful they may end up building sympathy for her though).

    It seems keeping with the theme that Wherry presents that they are pressuring her, albeit indirectly, to resign so they won't have to fire her.

    • Sympathy for someone who shows up five minutes before a scheduled flight then throws a hissy fit when security doesn't bend to her every whim; meanwhile, I have to show up an hour and a half to two hours before my flight just to make sure they'll let me to the gate?

      Nope, sorry, that one doesn't fly.

      • Matty F, NO ONE will have any sympathy for her, If she was really sorry for her actions it would show but she doesn't care, she comes across as a very arrogant and uncaring person, I think her own party was trying to give her a chance to show some regret but she isn't so they are going for plan B, to get her out !

        • LynnTO and Claudia, I wasn't actually suggesting she deserved sympathy, no way no how.

          I was suggesting though that by this back handed effort to get rid of her some may, in the choice between PMO and Guergis, pick Guergis.

          The PM should grow up and do this directly.

  16. I finally figured it out! When Robert Fife says "senior Conservatives" he's speaking of himself in the third person.