The former foreign affairs minister, in a statement, yesterday. “Last Monday, I informed the prime minister of my resignation as Canada’s minister of foreign affairs as soon as I became aware of a security breach whereby I forgot confidential government documents at Ms. Julie Couillard’s residence.”
The Prime Minister’s deputy secretary, in an email to Macleans.ca, just now: “Maxime Bernier was informed on Sunday. The Prime Minister was informed on Monday later afternoon. Maxime Bernier offered his resignation and the Prime Minister accepted it. That’s the bottom line.”
And in case you were wondering about any hair-splitting between when the Prime Minister was informed and when the Prime Minister’s Office was made aware, there’s this too from Mr. Harper’s director of communications, Sandra Buckler: “The Prime Minister and his office first became aware of this issue on Monday afternoon, well after the media availability with the President of the Ukraine.”
That seems a fairly definitive denial of what a Bernier friend whispered in Jane Taber’s ear earlier this week. To wit.
Mr. Bernier submitted his resignation Monday morning, after learning that his ex, Julie Couillard, had given a potentially damaging interview to the French-language TVA network stating that he was careless with confidential documents.
He was told to wait it out. Still, he was pulled out of meetings throughout the day and was absent from a meeting of the cabinet’s priority and planning committee, the cabinet’s most important and powerful committee.
The powers-that-be wanted to assess just how bad the interview by Ms. Couillard would be. The waiting game was all about media strategy.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to leave Monday night on a trip to Europe. A Bernier friend said the government didn’t want its foreign affairs minister to be forced to step down just before the Prime Minister was about to set out on the world stage. Nor, however, did it want the whole thing to blow up while the Prime Minister was in the air.
“They [senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office] had anticipated that this was coming [the Couillard interview] and Bernier had said, ‘Listen, I am ready to resign,’ ” the friend said. “And they had said to him, ‘Don’t do it yet. Let’s just confirm that this is what is going to happen because we don’t want this to blow up before Harper gets on a plane and goes to Europe.’ “
But it became clearer as Monday unfolded and more and more information leaked out from the interview that “it was as bad as Bernier had anticipated,” the friend said.
“The media strategy was to get out in front of it and so he [the Prime Minister] accepted his resignation,” the friend said.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.