Monday, November 19, 2007

Maxime Bernier: strike six

Because the Pakistani crisis just cries out for the junior minister:
"Foreign minister raises eyebrows with absence from Pakistan talks." Hey, Conservatives, what is going on with you guys? What is the deal in sending the B team to an important meeting of the Commonwealth like this? On the Liberal bench there's, let's see, Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff to name a few who might wonderfully fill the Foreign Affairs position and who would represent us spectacularly at such an important meeting. And they wouldn't even need training wheels.
The world's most unstable nuclear power - Pakistan - is roiling under a state of emergency that has seen thousands tossed into jail, independent media snuffed out and opposition politicians silenced.

And when the foreign ministers of more than 50 countries gather this week to decide whether to suspend Pakistan from the Commonwealth, Canada's Maxime Bernier will not be among them.

Instead of attending the meeting in Uganda, Bernier will be in Laos for a francophone summit.

The junior minister for foreign relations, Helena Guergis, will replace him at the consultations on Pakistan. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will also arrive Thursday in Uganda for a Commonwealth leaders' summit - but a decision on Pakistan will already have been made by the time that meeting starts.
Maxime, listen to one of the grown ups who's occupied the role and learn:
Axworthy said he was surprised that Bernier would pass up a chance to put his personal stamp on Canadian diplomacy at a time of crisis in Pakistan.

"I can understand that there are scheduling conflicts. There are always scheduling conflicts in that job," said Axworthy, now president of the University of Winnipeg.

"But to me, right now, Pakistan is the most dangerous situation on the globe. There is a very major crisis affecting the world, and it has implications for Canada."
Oh my and look at this, the CP has actually taken to reviewing Bernier's credentials in their report. This can't be a good sign:
The 44-year-old Bernier would seem intellectually equipped for the job. He holds two academic degrees, a bachelor's from the University of Quebec at Montreal and a law degree from the University of Ottawa.

The son of a former ambassador to Haiti and longtime Progressive Conservative MP who bolted to the Liberals, Bernier earned respect in conservative circles for his staunch commitment to economic libertarian ideals and for his minimalist view of government.
...
He was quickly promoted to the foreign affairs file and assumed his new role last summer. There's even talk of a future leadership bid.

But several people who work closely with Bernier say his inexperience with foreign affairs was painfully apparent from the get-go.

A government official points to an embarrassing mix-up that saw him identify Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the president of Haiti - even though Aristide was deposed three years ago. He had already held a lengthy meeting with Aristide's successor, but he'd forgotten Rene Preval's name.

The official called the gaffe a public example of the kind of error Bernier makes more frequently in private, and added that "things don't register with him."

Bernier's responses in the House of Commons are carefully choreographed

Questions about policy have been habitually met with a scripted non sequitur about some bold new initiative from Canada's New Government. (emphasis added)
Well he looked good on paper, anyway...

Maxime, MIA is not where you want to be on this issue...and the larger point is that Canada deserves to have its Foreign Minister at this meeting to show that we are as concerned as other countries. Is it possible that control freak Harper has decided not to have anyone else there who might steal his thunder before he arrives later in the week? Just wondering...