Would the PM please shut up: senior Conservative cabinet minister was BQ member for 7+ years

Separatist Conservative cabinet minister Denis Lebel being sworn in while Prime Minister Stephen Harper lovingly gazes on. That was then, from the prime minister’s web page. Is this now? Below: Mr. Lebel’s official mugshot.

This just in!
Senior federal Conservative cabinet minister was member of Bloc Quebecois for seven-plus years!

Well, it’s not April 1, and it’s in the Globe and Mail just now, so presumably the fact Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s transport minister, Denis Lebel, was a member of the theoretically separatist Bloc Quebecois for more than seven years during the 1990s means the federal Conservatives are either breathtaking hypocrites or they’re incompetent buffoons who didn’t do their due diligence.

By the sound of the Globe’s report, there wasn’t much secret about Mr. Lebel’s long sovereignist involvement, or his generous personal donations to Quebec’s separatist movement. But that was before Prime Minister Harper came along with his great economic plans for Canada, and Mr. Lebel saw the light, or so his spokesperson told the Globe yesterday.

Guaranteed, this story wouldn’t have rated two inches on page B97 but for the fact the Conservatives have been raging for days about Acting Opposition Leader Nycole Turmel having once been a member of the BQ … just like the prime minister’s esteemed cabinet colleague.

Ms. Turmel, of course, was appointed to her current position so that NDP Leader Jack Layton could take some time to recover from the obviously serious cancer that has beset him.

The federal Liberals, desperately facing extinction, opportunistically piled on. One can hardly blame them after their historic rout in the May 2 federal election. But if there are no federal Liberal MPs from Quebec with a PQ/BQ taint, rest assured it is only because there are only seven Liberal MPs left in that province.

As was written in this space last Friday, one can understand and sympathize with Ms. Turmel’s association with the Bloc – she is, after all, a social democrat and until Mr. Layton’s Orange Wave crashed through Quebec before the federal election, the Bloc and the Parti Quebecois were the only social democratic shows in the French-speaking part of town.

But Mr. Lebel is a neo-Con whose spokesperson says he’s an admirer of the PM’s economic wisdom. So what’s his excuse?

What this really shows is that both the BQ and PQ were mainstream parties in Quebec for a very long time, and many people with political ambitions no doubt joined them because that was the only way to have a realistic hope of political success.

This may seem opportunistic, but how is it different from the large numbers of otherwise reasonable people who are lifelong Conservatives in Alberta? The Conservatives have been the only show in this particular one-horse town for more than 40 years, so what do you expect people who want to build a better world to do if there’s no other way to attain office?

Mr. Harper could on the morrow surprise us and prove he really means what he says by firing Mr. Lebel from cabinet. If he does, he’d better dump Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier too, seeing as that Tory grandee also served as an aide to separatist Quebec premier Bernard Landry.

The trouble with that kind of thing, of course, is that it could easily turn into a witchhunt. It would surely do the Conservatives no long-term good in Quebec – which, for all their bravado about needing only Ontario and the West may be necessary for them to stay in power in the future.

Probably a better outcome for the future of the country is that the prime minister just grow up and shut up about this particular issue, lest he be revealed as the unprincipled hypocrite many of us suspect him of being.

If he does, I expect most of us who don’t like him or his politics will be willing to forgo our sense of schadenfreude at the deliciously ironic sight of him trying to wiggle off the hook and explain Mr. Lebel’s political history.

Then we can all get back to what we should be doing – to wit, surfing the Orange Wave!

This post also appears on rabble.ca.

6 Comments on "Would the PM please shut up: senior Conservative cabinet minister was BQ member for 7+ years"

  1. Diana says:

    The PM and his posse hypocrites?? Nooo…you don't say……

  2. Carlos says:

    How can the PM do anything about it. Is he not a separatist as well? They are all opportunistic and they all do whatever is necessary to get what they want, which in many cases power and access to private purses when retired. This is the great problem and unfortunately it is everywhere. Lebel just said that he is a nationalist and got on the bandwagon when the PM declared Quebec a nation. The usual, a federalist to get Canadian money for Quebec but a separatist when there is a possibility of independence. It is beyond me that a province as rich as Quebec is a have not province. All this sounds to me like the old 'I smoked marijuana but did not inhaled it'. It is any wonder the world is in the state that it is.

  3. Filostrato says:

    Awwww, can't I hold onto my sense of schadenfreude for a little bit longer?

    The Con machine is multitasking by being breathtaking hypocrites and incompetent buffoons at the same time, as they've been doing effortlessly for years.

    But will Harper say anything about the separatist in his own blessed fold? Heck, he's not even here.

    The last we heard he was Flying Down to Rio.

    (If I may steal one of your lines, Harper and President Dilma Rousseff may not be exactly as they appear in this picture.)

    And President Rousseff is one formidable woman. As they said of Ginger Rogers, she could do everything Fred Astaire did…..and do it backwards in high heels.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Prime Minister Harper and the Tories are not being hypocritical, they are engaging in doubleplusgood duckspeak, as befits their role as our intellectual and ideological leaders. They are just doubleplusgood doublethinkers. As the oldthinker George Orwell, who clearly unbellyfeeled Can-Con, tried to explain it, Doublethink is "The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth." Our Tories!

  5. Carlos says:

    Yes Anonymous is absolutely right except that like the great Tories he did not finish with some reality. These people are not doublethinkers, because they cannot think of one thing never mind two thoughts at the same time. To me they are CROOKS, that is what they are. I am starting to understand the building of more prisons. I am sure Harper is concerned about all the other doublethinkers out there.

  6. Liam says:

    Can't people change their minds? i mean Harper endorsed the Alberta agenda does that mean hes a separatist? no not really anymore.


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