Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sure looks like a shadow MP from here

My, it was just a few short weeks ago that Heritage Minister James Moore was making a windy case in defence of his department's hiring of Saulie Zajdel, the Conservative candidate who lost in the riding of Mount Royal in the May election. Here was Moore:
But Moore bristled at the suggestion that his employee was behaving like a second member of Parliament.

"No, not at all," Moore told reporters, when asked about Zajdel's role during a visit to Montreal. "It's not political at all. There's no political involvement, it's entirely a ministerial staff function."
Sure, Zajdel is just a great guy to have at the community level, doing purely ministerial staff things. As it turns out, there is more to the story. Canadian Press follows up on Mr. Zajdel's activities with this report today that doesn't square with Moore's assurances: "The 'shadow MP', his salary, and his pub stop with PM Harper." Let's see, what is the purely ministerial staffer up to?
He spoke publicly in Cotler's riding about Canada's relationship with Israel; he attended some events with Prime Minister Stephen Harper including a happy-hour pub stop; and he revealed he earns less than the "six digits" he hopes for.
Zajdel, meanwhile, has remained active in the riding since starting his government job in the fall.

He spoke about his department's programs a few weeks ago during a lecture at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors in Mount Royal, which has a large Jewish population.

Zajdel's one-hour talk, attended by around 25 people, was advertised in local newspapers and on the Cummings website as "How the Federal Government Relates to Israel."

He began his talk by discussing his department's heritage-related services, unrelated to Israel, according to two people in the room.

Then he told the seniors' audience he was going off the record, so they could have a private chat about Canada's relationship with Israel.
Yep, he went "off the record," but apparently full on into the publicly advertised topic of the event, "How the Federal Government Relates to Israel." Sounds quite political and not so ministerial staffer oriented.

Mr. Zajdel, if he wants to be a political candidate for the next 3 years, should not be drawing a salary from the taxpayers of Canada and the Conservatives should put a stop to it.

P.S. This is part of a pattern in Mount Royal, Conservative candidate Neil Drabkin ran against Cotler in 2006 and came second with 17.9% of the vote. He was subsequently hired to work in Stockwell Day's office before returning to challenge Marc Garneau in Westmount.