Friday, June 26, 2009

Tory Caucus Upset With Both Lisa Raitt and Joy Smith

Members of the Conservative caucus feel that Lisa Raitt should use a different kind of tape the next time she opens her mouth, but also agree with her concerns over backbencher Joy Smith.

Smith is now part of a controversy over irregularities during the 2008 election campaign, that has resulted in a lawsuit against Peter Kent and several Jewish organizations.

It is not a religious matter, however, but a political one, that has some people wondering what was behind the whole fiasco.

As a strong social conservative and longtime friend and supporter of Stockwell Day, the Conservatives pulled out all the stops to make sure she held onto her seat.

However, in the infamous tape that Lisa Raitt's assistant accidentally turned on during a road trip, we learned that Raitt was surprised that Joy Smith was allowed to present a bill that should have been the responsibility of a high ranking cabinet minister, and not a backbencher. Apparently, other members of the Party agree with her.

Raitt's shot at Manitoba MP Joy Smith caught on tape
Winnipeg Free Press
By: Mia Rabson
June 9, 2009

OTTAWA - A Winnipeg Conservative MP who was among the targets of Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt caught on tape is keeping her opinions of the incident to herself.

Joy Smith, the MP from Kildonan-St. Paul, said Tuesday she would not comment about the tape.

The tape of Raitt, having a conversation with her director of communications, Jasmine MacDonnell, was made accidentally while the two were in a car on a trip to British Columbia in January.

The tape recorder was later forgotten by MacDonnell in a media office on Parliament Hill. She said she would come back for it, but it was never retrieved. Last week when MacDonnell resigned after leaving secret government documents at another media office in Ottawa, Steve Maher, a reporter from the Halifax Chronicle Herald, listened to it.

Raitt makes disparaging remarks about both Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Smith.

Raitt said Smith had made a bad move by introducing a private member's bill to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for human trafficking of children.

"Speaking of career-limiting moves, I’m in shock that that MP, Joy Smith, brought forward private member’s legislation on human trafficking," Raitt says on the tape.

Smith had just introduced the bill that week.

"She’s on Canada AM. And the reason being is that there’s no way any of us should be introducing anything around justice issues or finance issues right now. You just can’t touch those two things."

It was widely known among Conservatives that bills dealing with justice or finance issues were to be introduced by cabinet only, as justice and the economy are the pillars of this government.

At least one Conservative however suggested Raitt's comments about Smith reflected what a lot of people in the caucus thought then.

However the legislation has done quite well, has received a lot of attention and got the backing from the NDP and the Liberals. It passed a parliamentary committee Monday and if there is not an election in the interim, it has a good chance to pass through the house and the Senate this fall, and become law before the Olympics in Vancouver next winter.

Many fear the Olympics will draw human traffickers in large numbers.

The bill also has served, albeit in a very small way to boost Conservative esteem in Quebec, where the party is faltering badly.

Quebec, particularly the Montreal area, is considered one of the hot beds of human trafficking in Canada and a lot of non-governmental organizations and the police are dismayed the Bloc Quebecois are voting against Smith's bill.

Recent polls have the Conservatives with very little support in Quebec, severely affecting the party's chance to ever form a majority government.

Smith has a personal stake in another part of the Raitt tape controversy as well.

Raitt, in discussing the problems at the Chalk River nuclear reactor and the resulting the shortage of isotopes for cancer tests, appeared excited at the prospect the issue would help her career and said the issue was "sexy" because it involved "radioactive leaks" and "cancer".

Smith's husband is battling cancer.

The comments about the Chalk River are likely to be the biggest problem for Raitt, who so far has kept her job in spite of the controversy.

One Conservative said most people in the party seem upset by the comments. "You don't do this to further one's career," said the source.

A poll conducted by the Winnipeg Free Press, asking if readers thought that Lisa Raitt should resign, revealed that 73% of respondents felt that she should.

More Postings on Lisa Raitt:

1. Garth Turner Must Think He's Died and Gone to Heaven

2. Lisa Raitt Accuses Jim Prentice of Pandering to Oilfields

3. Harper's Misuse of Tapes is Coming Back to Bite Him

4. Lisa Raitt's Apology is as Empty as Her Head. WARNING: RANT IN PROGRESS!

5. Lisa Raitt Thinks Isotope Shortage is Sexy. Is She Kidding Me?

6. Will Jasmine MacDonnell Get the Last Laugh?

7. The Isotope Crisis Reveals More Conservative Deceit

8. Lisa Raitt Digs For Gold in Taxpayers Wallet

9. Don't Criticize Lisa Raitt or She'll Sue

10. Careless Lisa Raitt Passes the Buck

11. Canada For Sale and Has Lisa Raitt Got a Deal For You

12. Lisa Raitt Says "Not Now Dear, I've Got a Headache"

13. Lisa Raitt Not Yet Done Screwing Up it Would Seem

14. A Dying Man's Letter to Lisa Raitt. Cancer is Not Sexy!

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