Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Luc Harvey Was Right. Josee Verner Did Take a Runner

Recently, former Conservative MP Luc Harvey has blamed Josee Verner for their poor poll ratings in Quebec. He correctly felt that when the announced cuts to arts and plans for censorship, first hit the airwaves, she should have stepped up and explained her Party's position.

Instead she took a runner and actually went missing for two weeks. Was she again simply doing as she was told by the boys in the backroom, or was she just too frightened to 'stand up for Canada'?

Like most Conservative MPs she actually believes that she works for Stephen Harper and not the people who put her in office.

Now her name will always be synonymous with censorship, and I don't really believe that's who she is. Too late though. The damage has been done.

Where in the world is Josée Verner?
Philippe Gohier
August 14, 2008

I think it’s safe to presume the Tories’ sweeping cuts to arts funding in Canada haven’t gone over quite as well as the Harper government had hoped. Sure, the National Post gave the cuts its predictable thumbs-up, but the government’s explanations have such gaping holes in them, it’s been hard to take any of them seriously.

Now, you’d think a government minister—perhaps even
the one responsible for the erstwhile programswould step up to clear the air. Fat chance. Heritage Minister Josée Verner’s been nowhere to be found, and her communications staff has been told not to answer questions from journalists.

Which brings us back to a
fundamental question about the way ministers are selected in this government (and, perhaps, this country): Is Josée Verner’s job to be a decision-making, program-shaping, full-fledged cabinet minister? Or is it to be a Quebecer where there are too few?

So long as the Conservatives aren’t 100% sure they’ve got Mario Dumont’s base sewn up, it appears they’ll keep trotting out Quebecers at meaningless photo-ops to somehow prove they’re not like those other conservatives—you know, the ones that
wouldn’t run candidates in the provinceall while simultaneously barring them from doing anything that might resemble governing. At this rate, you’ll know an election is looming when Harper names a cardboard cut-out of Camille Laurin to take over inter-governmental affairs from Rona Ambrose. (Of course, he’ll have to name the cut-out to the Senate first.)

UPDATE: I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Verner did indeed grant CP’s French-language service an interview yesterday. According to the heritage minister, the true beneficiaries of the cuts are—wait for it—the artists! “What we’re hoping to do,” Verner said, “is to look at how we could create a new program or new avenues that will be even more effective and have a stronger impact for our culture outside the country.” (Wonder who wrote that? It sure wasn't Josee, because I'm convinced she doesn't believe in that tripe)

She also found time for a photo-op.

The Bloc is reenergized, quick to respond and has yet to see a microphone that it doesn’t want to inhale. The Conservatives, not so much. After dodging debates and reporters for two weeks, and enduring the ensuing fury, Canadian Heritage Minister Josée Verner cobbled together seven other Quebec City-area candidates and launched one of the more bizarre press conferences I’ve ever witnessed. She read from a script as the other candidates bobble-headed their approval and a group of protesters outside banged on the windows. Without exception, Verner spoke in vague generalities: “We need to elect deputies who can deliver the merchandise”; “We go beyond platforms”; “We are going to work with our partners”; and so on…

-Not surprisingly, the Conservatives are on their heels in the region. The issue of cuts to culture is stuck in the headlines and Conservative candidates can’t walk ten feet without being asked about them. Inevitably, these candidates answer in vague generalities (see above), so people keep asking about them. There’s a moral in here somewhere. (Harper has turned poor Josee into another talking head)

Mind you she's still smitten with her 'boss', apparently even asking him to sign her copy of the throne speech. Though apparently she didn't even vote Conservative.

This is probably my favourite news item of the day so far: Heritage Minister Josée Verner doesn’t vote Conservative.

Rather than voting in the riding where she’s running for a seat (Louis-Saint-Laurent), like most politicians do, Verner voted in Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier, where she lives. Apparently, Verner was unaware that, as an incumbent MP, she is allowed to vote in the riding she represents.

The kicker is that the Conservatives aren’t even running a candidate in Portneuf—that’s André Arthur territory. (So who did she vote for?)

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