Saturday, April 19, 2008

Conservatives enthusiastically backstabbing Maxime Bernier

I'm tellin' ya, it's a sad, sad day when this stuff starts to happen:
Now, the Afghan blunder that made diplomats and Tories wince has dealt a blow to his ambitions, and likely raised his boss's anger. Inside Mr. Harper's government, his stock had already been plummeting.

“He was seen as sort of a calculated maverick, but now it seems to be more of a case of erratic behaviour,” one Conservative strategist said. “It's erratic behaviour that Harper worked so hard to move the party away from, and he will not tolerate erratic behaviour.”
Yes, school marm Steve "...will not tolerate erratic behaviour." That's a freakin' brilliant quote.

Some Tories in government think Mr. Bernier is shaping up as the next problem-child minister, the unhappy role filled by former environment minister Rona Ambrose and then former defence minister Gordon O'Connor, who were both shuffled to less prominent portfolios.

They tell tales of the sharp stage-notes he receives from Mr. Harper in preparation for Question Period. And though Ms. Buckler's PMO communications office has prohibited him from doing all but brief news media interviews, Mr. Bernier has booked appearances on TV in defiance – a cardinal sin in the command-and-control Harper government.
Harpie writes them himself! I guess he's doing Ms. Buckler et al.'s job too!

At least his Dad likes him, as the Globe helpfully tells us all:
At least one fan, Mr. Bernier's father Gilles Bernier, predicted brighter days. Likening him to the Chaudière River that runs through the Beauce riding, which rages menacingly each April only to calm once the spring runoff has passed, the elder Mr. Bernier reckons his son is just going through a rough patch.

“Maxime went to Darfur last month and that went very well. He was at the NATO summit right after and that went well, too. His trip to Afghanistan was very positive – except for his last declaration. But he'll live with it,” insisted Mr. Bernier, 73. “I have full confidence he will land on his feet.”
Gee, Globe writers, now that's some unbiased, insightful context for we readers. Maybe you could get a picture of any pets Maxime has and include them to round out the picture too...:)

And another brilliant quote:
Most who know him agree that Mr. Bernier possesses the self-confidence to recover from his blunder. But others, who see his cockiness as a flaw in politics, question whether he has the intellectual grit for his sensitive job.

He's very casual in the way he approaches files,'' one Tory insider said. “He does not apply the rigour needed to get properly briefed. And it's not because he lacks the time.”
The knives are full out, that's a very remarkable statement for someone to make about a senior cabinet minister.

But hang on, another helpful Conservative MP speaks:
He's just not interested in foreign affairs. And I think he has a pretty strong opinion of himself,” said a Tory MP who likes him, but believes his pride prevented him from studying up. At meetings, according to some in government, he offers little input, although he can make a good presentation. Unlike his term at Industry, he appears to have no set of clear principles guiding him.
Now maybe it's just me, but you'd think a prerequisite for a Foreign Affairs Minister would be, say, an interest in foreign affairs? You know?

And one final comment from the article, not from a Conservative, but a sum up quote on the Afghan gaffe committed by Bernier this past week:
“He does not seem to be a minister who will mark his department,” said Nelson Michaud, a foreign-policy analyst at the École Nationale d'Administration Publique. “He was apparently placed in this job because he could carry a message. But even there, as we can see, the message is a little shaky.”

The Kandahar mistake, Mr. Michaud believes, betrays a fundamental unfamiliarity with the basic language of diplomacy.

“A Foreign Affairs Minister has to understand that he's in another world. In my opinion, Mr. Bernier has never realized that,” he said. “He should not need a briefing to say, Mr. Minister, you should not reveal all of the discussion you had with [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai.
(emphasis added throughout)
Now that's a heck of an article. Maxime Bernier clearly should not be in his post as Foreign Affairs Minister.

Who knew Bob Rae's call for Bernier's resignation would be so gleefully taken up by Conservatives themselves?