UPDATE – According to someone who was watching CTVNewsNet this morning – or, what we in the business like to call, “an unnamed source”, Bernard Lord’s co-pilot will indeed be David Emerson. Whee!
First off, ITQ would just like to state for the record that, unlike Colleague Wells, we have no inside information on who the other Conservative campaign co-chair will be, although we are developing a grudging admiration for the way that the party is so shamelessly teasing the media with pre-election tidbits. Normally, these kinds of announcements aren’t exactly the stuff of which breaking news headlines are made, but when it trickles out slowly like this, it almost seems like it should.
We did note with interest, however, the suggestion – made in the ensuing comment thread – that it that said co-chair may well be soon-to-be-former Foreign Affairs Minister (and, of course, very much former Liberal) David Emerson — which this interview with the Vancouver Sun would seem to back up, or at least not eliminate as a possibility:
He said that he would be “involved with the Conservative Party” during the coming election, saying specifics would likely come Friday.
“I’ve committed to the Prime Minister to continue to support him and continue to serve in any way he may think is valuable,” Emerson said.
But the next line just made us boggle in disbelief:
Asked about speculation this week that Prime Minister Harper could opt to keep Emerson in cabinet by appointing him to the senate, Emerson said: “I haven’t even given any thought to that. It’s premature to speculate on anything of that nature.”
“Premature to speculate”? How about “stark staring insane”?
Does anyone really think that Stephen Harper will end what he devoutly hopes will be the first of many terms as Prime Minister with a bold new twist on the still-controversial-amongst-the-cranky Fortier gambit, in which he appointed his party’s campaign co-chair to the Senate so that he could make him a cabinet minister? This time around, though, the PM would be sending the putative campaign co-chair to the Senate not because he didn’t run for a seat, but because – sorry, soon-to-be-former minister – there’s virtually no way he could win one outside Fortress Alberta. Not after crossing the floor so he could be part of the same cabinet as the aforementioned Fortier. Which, readers may dimly recall, was just a wee bit of an issue at the time, considering it was, quite literally, the very first act of a prime minister who won the election largely on the perception that the previous government was infested with a culture of cronyism and corruption.
Even the most diehard unnamed senior Conservative source wouldn’t be able to spin something like that – it goes beyond bad optics, and into some sort of Escherian parody, a Mobius loop of hideously misguided political opportunism. The fact that Emerson was apparently not only able to keep a straight face when asked the question, but actually answered it – with a bizarre and almost arrogant non-denial, even – suggests that putting him in charge of anything remotely connected to connecting with voters could well turn out to be a spectacularly bad idea.
UPDATE: I thought I was pretty clear in my original post, but just to make sure: I would be shocked if the Prime Minister entertained the thought of appointing Emerson to the Senate for more than a micronanosecond, if that. What surprised me in this interview was that Emerson didn’t dismiss it out of hand.