(Updated with a file from Philippe Gohier.)
Some months ago, Christian Paradis, then merely the secretary of state for agriculture, rose with a question. “Did we,” he asked, “invoke GATT article XXVIII in defence of supply management?”
“Yes!” responded his mates on the Conservative side.
“Where was the Bloc?” he begged.
“Not there!” his mates cried.
“Did we,” he continued, “implement compositional standards for cheese?”
“Yes!” cheered the Conservatives.
“Where was the Bloc?” he asked.
“Not there!” shouted the government members.
This went on for awhile.
Mr. Paradis is, if nothing else, a gleeful partisan. Of just the sort this Prime Minister tends to prefer and, indeed, promote. In that then, there is little surprise that he has found favour with the government and is now in possession of a ministerial portfolio.
It is perhaps an optical illusion, but he appears to often arrive in the House with the coat hanger still in his suit. That matched with his tendency for erratic hand movements and arm waving makes for quite the spectacle. But he is not without his wits. For sure, it takes a certain mind to make partisan chants out of compositional standards for cheese.
He is a rookie MP and now the PM’s youngest minister at a mere 34 years old. In 2006, he topped the Bloc incumbent in Mégantic-L’Érable by 8,000 votes, a bit of an upset apparently explained by the Conservative’s undeniable charisma. “By force of his personality and his perseverance by election day,” observed a Montreal Gazette report, “his team even included former Liberals disillusioned with Paul Martin who decided to work for him because they liked him.”
Before entering politics, he was a lawyer in Thetford Mines, Quebec, having graduated from the University of Sherbrooke with a degree in civil law and Laval University with a master’s in corporate law. His biographical notes also identify him as a former president of the Asbestos Chamber of Commerce. (Thetford Mines considers itself the asbestos capital of the world.)
His riding, fatefully, abuts the Beauce, home to the late Maxime Bernier. And it is perhaps worth noting that in addition to be young and bright and francophone, Mr. Paradis is also a married father of three.
Our Philippe has some more from the French papers…
—Christian Paradis was among the first Conservative candidates to have been linked to the in-and-out scandal. A report in Le Devoir dating back to August 2007 showed Paradis received $33,970 from the Conservative party on January 11, 2006; eight days later, he sent back $23,985, under the pretext the money was for advertising expenses. Paradis still hasn’t been reimbursed by Elections Canada for his campaign expenses. Paradis also claimed in the House that the media and the Liberal party had been tipped off about the RCMP raid on Conservative party HQ.
—Paradis’ communications director during his election campaign was Marie Saint-Laurent, who made her name as Jeff Fillion’s co-host. Fillion, the controversial “trash radio” host who was fired by Quebec City-based CHOI-FM for his raunchy on-air commentary, has endorsed both the Conservatives and Mario Dumont’s ADQ in the past.
—In his previous post, Paradis was behind the Conservative government’s project (Bill C-33) to increase to 5% the minimum quantity of renewable fuel (read: ethanol) in gasoline. The Conservatives have committed $500-million to researching and developping cellulose-based biofuels that can be manufactured from algae, plants or waste.
—Paradis was among those opposed to re-opening the debate on same-sex marriage.