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Forgetful Foreign Minister Bernier

May 27, 2008

Media types in Canada were thrilled this weekend by breaking news that Maxime Bernier left something at his ex-girlfriend’s house last month. But not just any something – a top secret classified folder something. And not just any ex-girlfriend, but the very attractive former lover of not one but two Hell’s Angels Julie Couillard. Hurray for having a young woman involved in Canadian politics again for even a brief moment. Now we have something to fill that gap left by Belinda Stronach, whose presence suddenly made it okay to speculate on MP’s romantic lives in a way we would never have found acceptable otherwise.

Much as everyone would like this story to be about the beautiful woman and her cleavage, it really is not. The less sexy but truer version of Maxime Bernier’s failure as a foreign minister dates back to his appointment to a post he was clearly not competent to fill. This is the part that is still more mysterious than Julie Couillard’s biker chick past: why was someone who was so obviously unsuited for the role of Foreign Minister given this extremely high profile position? It’s been suggested that it was intended to curry favour in Quebec, but surely Stéphane Dion has made it clear to everyone that simply being from the province doesn’t mean you will be well liked or improve your party’s chances there.

Another possibility seems worth considering, and worrying to anyone concerned about Canada abroad: that this government, like many others, deliberately filled the post with a weak personality, one that would not ensure a high level of respect for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canada…or much competition with the Prime Minister’s Office…or, most importantly, an inspired role for Canada in the world.

Other funny or insightful rundowns of media coverage of the (non) event can be found at A BCer in Toronto or at Maisonneuve Magazine’s Media Scout blog.

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