POLITICKING: LONELY AT THE TOP
May 21, 2013
So Prime Minister Harper told his caucus Tuesday that anyone who planned to use public office for private gain should leave the room NOW. What did he expect? Hon Members and Senators to rise in their seats in the presence of the media and exit the caucus room? The people who triggered this crisis weren’t in the room, including his former cheque-dispensing former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright who resigned on the weekend (as I predicted on Facebook) nor former Tory senators Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy, who are not seasoned politicians but professional journalists. Note by tradition the Senate usually has a “media Senator”, representing the Fourth Estate. That position is currently filled by the capable Sen. Joan Fraser, former editor of the Montreal Gazette.
It was more theatre than power politics. But what else could the PM say, now that machinery of government has kicked in, including ethics commissioners, Senate committees, Sen. James Cowan’s pending motion of privilege that the Senate’s own procedures have been thwarted by the PMO. The PM’s appointment of long time aide Ray Novak, a sweet guy but more of an executive assistant/principal secretary, than whip cracking Chief of Staff, shows Harper has no one else on his extensive PMO staff he can trust to do the crucial top job.
POLITICKING: TUESDAY’S CAUCUS
May 20, 2013
At every Conservative caucus, the top Parliamentary brass sits at a long table in a Centre Block committee room facing the MP’s and Senators to review government business and hear from the hustings. They include the Government House leader, the Whip, the caucus Chair, the Prime Minister and the Government House Leader in the Senate, Marjorie LeBreton, who has the PM’s ear. Literally. While others discuss the legislative agenda, LeBreton drones nonstop into the PM’s left ear. He listens, nodding, with a half smile.
He won’t be smiling Tuesday. He will be angry, facing a bewildered caucus in collective pain. And he will blame Sen. LeBreton. Harper doesn’t much care for the Senate (no PM does) but he does expect the Senate leader to pass his legislation and keep him out of trouble. And LeBreton has survived under several Tory leaders by doing exactly what The Boss ordered. No freelancing. So what did The Boss order? Look for Sen. LeBreton to be replaced in the summer cabinet shuffle.
May 17, 2013
Senator Pamela Wallin has recused herself from more than the Conservative caucus. When she sits as an Independent Senator, she gives up her Tory membership on the influential Senate Committee on National Security and Defense Committee, which she chaired, and the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee and Veteran Affairs. Senators who chair committees receive extra
pay. Independents have limited access to committee membership and require consent of committee members for access to other committees. Let’s see what happens, since it will show if the Conservative Senators blackball her!
May 16, 2013
Yes Prime Minister Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright SHOULD resign, but not just for giving a personal cheque for $90,000 to disgraced Conservative Senator Mike Duffy. He should leave because he showed poor political judgment in not telling his boss, who relies on his chief political aide to keep him in touch with the real world. Consider: the C of S screens whom the PM sees, what he does, ,which cabinet ministers have access to the third floor corner office in Centre Block and along with the Privy Council, which cabinet documents he reads and policy options he considers. I have seen a C of S herd a Prime Minister into a corner with the skill of a sheep dock moving a flock in a certain direction. Nigel Wright has put his Harper at risk. Look for Nigel to move back to Bay Street well before the next election.