Ugh – sorry about that, guys – an unfortunate BlackBerry crash lost my entire introductory patter, and now we’re well into the presser – starring now former senator and hopeful MP Michael Fortier – who is talking about … Quebec. And the Bloc Quebecois. So far, no questions – but there’s a fairly sizeable contingent of reporters, so there’s the distinct possibility that this could get good.
I’m sitting beside former Canadian Press reporter Dan Dugas – who, in his pre-election incarnation, was responsible for clarifying unfortunate misstatements by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, and now appears to be acting as campaign spokesperson at large – at the back of the state-of-the-art self-sustaining media nexus you’re all doubtless sick of hearing about. Actually, it’s not all that exciting – not on the outside, at least – it’s just a standard studio, really – lights, curtains, industrial furniture, and a man in a suit reading from his notes at a handful of reporters.
And – questions!
One thing that they don’t have here, by the way, is simultaneous translation, which means I’m going to have a little trouble if the Q&A is entirely in French. So far, it seems to mainly involve Fortier declaring victory over sovereignty, and reminding all and sundry that the Bloc Quebecois can do nothing for Quebeckers. So many promises they make – thousands, he tells us – but they can’t keep a single one.
An English question – how many seats does he think the party can win in Quebec, specifically “the greater Montreal area” – and does that include his own? He demurs from making predictions, but invites us to “find out more” about what he confidentally avers is the greatest ever selection of Conservative candidates in Quebec. As for the Liberals – well, the Green Shift is just too complicated. He’s confident that the party will elect MPs – and that one of them will be him.
Interesting. He says he’s very strong in the riding – strong and recognizeable – and will
do more for the people of his riding than try to get Omar Khadr out of Guantanamo Bay, unlike his opponent – the Bloc’s Meille Faille. So – Quebeckers don’t care about human rights, is that about right?
Oops. Now he’s being questioned about a funding announcement that the government made last week that, apparently, had his name on it. “I announced that?” He muses. Yes, minister. Turns out it was a lead-in to the question of the pre-election largess showered on various ridings in the last few weeks. “This is not new funding,” he insists – not discretionary spending, but signed, sealed and delivered by the budget. He’ll let Canadians decide “which team” is better at managing the country’s money.
At one point – still on the spending issue – a reporter notes that other ministers, including MacKay, made eleventh hour announcements; in MacKay’s case, a curling festival. Beside me, Dugas gives a thumbs up.
Onto sovereignty – and how we don’t need the Bloc, which does nothing but plot and scheme about how to bring Quebec into the League of Nations — wow, does that still exist, or did he mean the United Nations? The Quebec reporters seem politely sceptical of his assertion that the national unity wars are over forever, but Fortier is undeterred.
Ah, I just got the press release – over eighteen years, the Bloc has made over a thousand promises – and not one kept!
Wait, where’d he go? The former senator has left the dias, ladies and gentlemen – not a flounce, and it’s not like it was due to a particularly risky or awkward line of questioning. He just – left. I guess he has an election to win.
As the crews pack up, and reporters circle Dugas and the other official floaters, trying for one last quote or one last spin, respectively, I notice for the first time that the room is actually subdivided into two sections — the front half is the aforementioned media studio, but the back is taken up by workstations, computers – the ultimate rapid response centre, I guess.
Anyway, that was far less interesting than expected. Bring back Jason Kenney. I say!
Although I did have an Ezra Levant sighting on the way out, so that could bode well for future hijinx. Surely they have mariachi bands in Gloucester – although the former senator might not find that as amusing as did Reform.