They’re still sorting things out in Ottawa, but here’s what I’ve been able to scrape together from contacts on the Hill.
Michael Chong, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs resigned from cabinet today in a press conference after Question Period. Chong resigned rather than voting for the Prime Minister’s nation motion tonight.
The first sign of trouble was during Question Period when a Conservative MP rose to ask a softball question to Chong and Chong wasn’t there. Minister Cannon was seen to high tail it from question period to likely talk some sense into the junior cabinet minister from Halton Hills. Garth Turner, smelling blood in the water asked a question of the Prime Minister concerning Chong’s possible resignation from cabinet due to the nation resolution. The PM gave a dodge answer about the nation resolution and Bill Graham sought to clarify. Mr. Harper grimaced and said that “we’ll see who votes for the resolution tonight” (or something to that effect).
An embarrassing day for the government indeed. House leader Rob Nicholson had to get up in the House to answer Minister Chong’s question.
The London North Centre by-election is today and this issue, let alone the nation issue, will be on voters’ minds.
I hear that western Conservative MPs are outraged. It was toughest for them to accept the nation motion and now Michael Chong has given their constituents an inconvenient question to answer:
“Why didn’t you stand up against this nation resolution when an MP from Ontario did?”
The Conservative Party’s common front on this just met a wrecking ball.
The silver lining at the moment is that Chong’s still part of caucus.
UPDATE (6:59pm): Who will replace Chong in cabinet? There are a couple of possibilities. The PM will either spread Chong’s responsibilities to a current cabmin to shorten the news cycle on this embarrassing event. Or the PM will appoint an MP to cabinet.
I think that Peter van Loan would be a good choice.
UPDATE (8:57pm): Peter van Loan promoted to cabinet. MSM breaks this at 8:22pm. Maybe I’ll play Pro-Line this weekend.
Van Loan makes sense. Replace an Ontario MP with another Ontario MP. Van Loan’s also a highly experienced MP.