John Williamson to run

The news came this morning from the Telegraph Journal that the Prime Minister’s director of communications, John Williamson, would be seeking Greg Thompson’s seat in the next election should he win the nomination.

I spoke to Mr. Thompson by phone this afternoon and the former Minister of Veterans Affairs told me that he’s known John’s family for years and that he called John himself and encouraged him to run. Thompson says he hopes for a broad field of well qualified-nomination contestants and believes John would do well.

The Prime Minister’s office offered the following on Williamson’s projected departure from the office, “Like a lot of Atlantic Canadians, John went elsewhere for a job.  But he is now returning to the only place he calls home.”

I’ve also learned that the Prime Minister has been pleased with Williamson’s work and that had Greg Thompson not announced his retirement, John would be staying put.  He has said that his job is not easy, but he is glad that he accepted it in August and enjoys working for the Prime Minister, which he feels is “an honour and an exceptional privilege”.

Also, I’ve come to understand that John will not commence his nomination campaign until once he has left PMO. In the meantime, John will devote all of his efforts to government business and as an added precaution, he will have no involvement in New Brunswick issues and files.

Williamson will no doubt be a strong contender for nomination and his history both on the partisan/government side as Harper comms and movement side with the CTF and Manning Centre will likely offer the voters of New Bruswick Southwest the confidence they’d need to elect him to Parliament after the next election.

Good luck, John.

The latest in a proud history of meltdowns in our parliamentary history

New Brunswick MLA Abel Leblanc had a moment in the legislature yesterday:

I’m in a bit of a Friday mood, I’ll see if I can hunt down more youtube captured moments of parliamentarians behaving badly. Your tips are welcome in the comments.

UPDATE: Who could forget this recent highlight also from the New Brunswick legislature?

FIGHTING IRISH UPDATE: Paul Gogarty of the Irish Green Party uses some unparliamentary language (caution: language)

Justin Trudeau demands $10,000 speaking fee… from Liberals

From Saturday’s Times Transcript,

A Who’s Who of Metro Moncton and, indeed, the province showed up and raised $35,000 for projects promoting increased literacy. And the crowd of about 500 attendees heard a ‘passionate’ speech by Justin Trudeau, son of PET.

Trudeau told reporters he loves visiting New Brunswick whenever he can: “I love it here. The people are so nice and hospitable,” he gushed. But what was that grumbling behind his back?

Highly respected attendees say the event could have raised a lot more than it did. . . $10,000 more. It seems that was the personal appearance fee young Justin charged local Liberals for his ‘passionate speech.’ Tell us again why he likes visiting . . . please!

Justin is also available for sweet 16 birthday parties, club openings and bat mitzvahs. Please call his booking agent for details.

New Senators

The new senators:


Quebec

Claude Carignan

Judith Siedman

Jacques Demers

Ontario

Doug Finley

Linda Frum

New Brunswick

Carolyn Stewart-Olsen

Manitoba

Don Plett

Nova Scotia

Kelvin Ogilvie

Nunavut

Dennis Patterson

Senate appointments tomorrow

I’m hearing that the Prime Minister will be naming nine new senators tomorrow by 2:00pm.

Here are the party veterans that I’m hearing are sure bets
Manitoba – Don Plett
New Brunswick – Carolyn Stewart-Olson
Ontario – Doug Finley
Nova Scotia – Brooke Taylor
Quebec – Jacques Demers

In the running:
Ontario: Bob Runciman, David Braley
Quebec: Judith Siedman
Nunavut: Dennis Patterson

I’m still digging on this. If you’ve got any tips (anonymity guaranteed) please send them via email or bb pin.

UPDATE: Appointments will be announced between 1 and 2pm tomorrow
UPDATE: Brooke Taylor is a surer bet than Macdonald for NS from what I hear. Finley upgraded to a sure bet now that I’ve heard from more than a few sources.
UPDATE: Brooke Taylor sure bet for NS
UPDATE: Added David Braley to the shortlist of potential senators from Ontario
UPDATE: hearing rumour that the PM will only appoint 8 of 9 tomorrow, but cannot guess why
UPDATE: Senate seat from Nunavut open. Hearing that the PM met with appointee last week while on the northern tour
UPDATE: Added Dennis Patterson and Paul Okalik from Nunavut. Bet on Patterson.

Telegraph Journal apologizes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Today, we learn from the Telegraph Journal:

On Wednesday, July 8, 2009, the Telegraph-Journal published a story about the funeral mass celebrating the life of former Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc that was inaccurate and should not have been published. We pride ourselves in maintaining high standards of journalism and ethical reporting, and regret this was not followed in this case.

The story stated that a senior Roman Catholic priest in New Brunswick had demanded that the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the communion wafer which was handed to Prime Minister Harper during the celebration of communion at the funeral mass. The story also said that during the communion celebration, the Prime Minister “slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call ‘the host’ into his jacket pocket”.

There was no credible support for these statements of fact at the time this article was published, nor is the Telegraph-Journal aware of any credible support for these statements now. Our reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras, who wrote the story reporting on the funeral, did not include these statements in the version of the story that they wrote. In the editing process, these statements were added without the knowledge of the reporters and without any credible support for them.

The Telegraph-Journal sincerely apologizes to the Prime Minister for the harm that this inaccurate story has caused. We also apologize to reporters Rob Linke and Adam Huras and to our readers for our failure to meet our own standards of responsible journalism and accuracy in reporting.

Here is the original story (portions highlighted in red concern content that has “no credible support” and portions highlighted in orange are therefore not newsworthy and are unsubstantiated gossip and speculation):

A senior New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest is demanding the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the sacramental communion wafer Stephen Harper was given at Roméo LeBlanc’s funeral mass.

During communion at the solemn and dignified service held last Friday in Memramcook for the former governor general, the prime minister slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call “the host” into his jacket pocket.

In Catholic understanding, the host – once consecrated by a priest for the Eucharist – becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is crucial that the small wafer be consumed when it is received.

Monsignor Brian Henneberry, vicar general and chancellor in the Diocese of Saint John, wants to know whether the prime minister consumed the host and, if not, what happened to it.

If Harper accepted the host but did not consume it, “it’s worse than a faux pas, it’s a scandal from the Catholic point of view,” he said.

Henneberry said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office is in order.

“If I were the prime minister, I would at least offer an explanation to say no offence was meant, and then (clarifying) what happened to the consecrated host is in order,” he said. “I would hope the Prime Minister’s Office would have enough respect for the Catholic Church and for faith in general to make clear whatever happened.”

On Friday, during the mass, Harper reached out with his right hand and accepted the wafer from a priest.

A television camera lingered long enough to show New Brunswick Lt.-Gov. Herménégilde Chiasson, the next person to receive the host, raise his to his mouth.

But the tape shows that Harper does not consume the wafer before the camera cuts away several seconds later.

If Harper was unclear about what was appropriate during the funeral mass, said Henneberry, it “would say to me it’s time to get new protocol people.”

Harper and his senior spokespersons were en route to Italy on Tuesday for the G8 leaders’ summit.

Harper will spend five days in Italy and on Saturday he has an audience with Pope Benedict.

Requests for comment left with Harper’s media office were not immediately returned on Tuesday.

What Harper did or didn’t do at the ceremony quietly raised questions at the ceremony in Memramcook Friday.

When Harper took the host, “everybody just paused and said, ‘What did he do with it?'”‚” said one official who watched the pool feed with reporters who were not inside St. Thomas Church in Memramcook.

“You could see he was, ‘Uh oh, I don’t know what to do with this.'”‚”

The curiosity among Catholics has not gone unnoticed among Liberal insiders in Ottawa, either.

Henneberry said he has received a call on Harper’s actions from a concerned Catholic, and he doubts that she is the only one puzzled and perturbed.

“She said she was very upset,” he said, adding he had not seen the footage.

“She said, ‘All weekend long it has been bothering me and I know I can’t do something about it, but someone should.’

“She can’t be the only one in this country that is thinking that.”

Harper’s religious affiliation raises a separate but related question about his accepting the host: As a Protestant, should he have politely declined it?

The fact it was a national event that was televised live likely complicated the situation for everyone – the priests and Harper, Henneberry said.

“If the prime minister is not a Catholic, he should not have been receiving communion and if he comes up it places the priest in an awkward position, especially at a national funeral because everyone is watching,” he said.

But Rev. Arthur Bourgeois, who delivered the homily, did not have a problem with the prime minister accepting the host.

“Usually, to partake in holy communion in the Catholic Church, you have to be a member of it, but if you’re not, exceptionally sometimes at major occasions (it is different),” Bourgeois said.

“If you are up there and giving holy communion you are not going to stop and asked everyone if they are Catholic or if they are not Catholic.

“You say the Lord provides.”

Monsignor André Richard, who is Bishop of the Diocese of Moncton, gave Harper communion but said he didn’t see what Harper did with the host.

“I didn’t see anything wrong there “¦ because I was busy doing something else.”

Bourgeois said it is acceptable to decline the host by simply folding one’s hands, which signals the priest to bless the person.

Rev. James Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of Winnipeg, said if Harper was not given good advice before the ceremony about what to do, it is a regrettable oversight.

“I would feel very sorry for the prime minister if he wasn’t informed about what the procedure is,” Weisgerber said. “I would find it terrible if we put him in an embarrassing situation.

“My concern is at a funeral of that level everyone knows what the protocol is.”

Harper could have simply consumed the host shortly after he was off-camera; or he could have hesitated because he expected a priest would soon invite everyone to consume the host once everyone present had received it, as occurs in some Protestant churches.

His own faith tradition certainly does things differently, says an evangelical Christian journalist who specializes in religion and politics.

Lloyd Mackey’s 2005 book The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper traces Harper’s political and faith journey.

Given his church background, Harper might not have known exactly what was expected of him as a Protestant at a Roman Catholic mass, Mackey suggested.

“I don’t think by himself as a Protestant adherent he’d be aware of the nuances,” said Mackey, who added there would be people in his inner circle who should have advised him.

For a number of years, in Calgary and in Ottawa, Harper has worshipped at churches within the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said Mackey.

Communion in Alliance churches is typically held once a month.

It would involve the seated congregation passing along wafers and, in small individual glasses, unfermented grape juice.

Harper grew up in a background with United Church of Canada and Presbyterian influences, but he was something of a skeptic until he was a young adult.

Mackey’s book says Harper’s journey to a committed personal faith was influenced by fellow politician Preston Manning, among others, and came after reading much-admired Christian apologists C.S. Lewis and Malcolm Muggeridge.

LeBlanc, 81, died in late June. He had been the country’s first Acadian and Maritime governor general, and before that, a senator, MP and press secretary to two prime ministers.

That’s quite an edit!

I’ve learned from a source close to one of the journalists that at least one of them may have gone so far as to seek advice and consider a lawsuit against the newspaper if the paper did not retract the story and absolve (no pun intended) the journalists of fabricating a significant portion the article.

Printing such a false hit piece can get a journalist frozen out of any future access to the PMO under the current administration. It’s a rare sight to see journalists defend their integrity against their senior management in the newsroom, however, in this case it may have been a matter of professional self-preservation.

What motivation was there behind torquing over three quarters of the story? Did somebody in Ottawa (or Toronto) pick up the phone and push a more interesting story to the editors instead?

Some observers will remember that “Wafergate” led CBC’s flagship newscast The National rather than the story about the Prime Minister’s participation in the G8 conference. UPDATE: Errr… this observer didn’t seem to remember correctly. My friends from CBC (yes, I shockingly still do have a couple of them — and they’ve been better to me than I have to them lately, but I digress) inform me that I am mistaken by the order of their reports (they did G8 and did “Wafergate” later in the broadcast). I also mistakenly made this reference on the Charles Adler show. I ironically acknowledge this and regret these errors.

New Senators

Newfoundland and Labrador – Fabian Manning

Nova Scotia – Fred Dickson, Stephen Greene, Michael L. MacDonald

PEI – Mike Duffy

New Brunswick – Percy Mockler, John D. Wallace

Québec – Patrick Brazeau, Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis, Leo Housakos, Michel Rivard

Ontario – Nicole Eaton, Irving Gerstein

Saskatchewan – Pamela Wallin

British Columbia – Nancy Greene Raine, Yonah Martin, Richard Neufeld

Yukon – Hector Daniel Lang

UPDATE: Here is the backgrounder from the Prime Minister’s Office

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Backgrounder

LIST OF NEW SENATORS

Newfoundland and Labrador

Fabian Manning has dedicated his career to serving Newfoundlanders and Labradorians at all three levels of government.  A three term councilor in the town of St. Brides, Mr. Manning served as coordinator for the Cape Shore Area Development Association for three years.  Mr. Manning would go on to win three elections to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly as the representative for Placentia – St. Mary’s.  Mr. Manning was subsequently elected as Member of Parliament in the federal constituency of Avalon in the 2006 Federal Election campaign.  Mr. Manning would go on to chair both the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans as well as the Conservative Government’s Atlantic caucus.

Nova Scotia

Fred Dickson, QC is both one of Nova Scotia’s most respected lawyers and one of Canada’s top legal experts on offshore resource development.  Mr. Dickson is counsel with the law firm of McInnes Cooper.   Mr. Dickson has advised the federal and provincial government’s on numerous resource and infrastructure projects, including serving as an advisor to the Government of Nova Scotia during the singing of the 1982 and 1985 Canada / Nova Scotia Offshore Oil and Gas Agreements.  Mr. Dickson remains active in these files as a Director of the Offshore / Onshore Technologies Association of Nova Scotia and Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

Stephen Greene has political and policy experience at both the federal and provincial levels.  Mr. Greene served as Chief of Staff in the Leader’s Office of the Reform Party of Canada from 1993 and 1996 during which he helped manage the opposition response to the national unity and fiscal issues of the day.  He went on to work as the Executive Director of the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia.  For the past two years he has served as Principal Secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff to Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald with wide responsibilities to help the Premier administer an effective government for all Nova Scotians.

Michael L. MacDonald is a Nova Scotia businessman who since 1988 has been the owner and President of Fleur de Lis Motel Ltd. Mr. MacDonald had previously served terms as executive assistant to two federal cabinet ministers and the premier of Nova Scotia.  A graduate of the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, Mr. MacDonald has been an activist and volunteer with the federal and provincial Conservative parties since university, and is presently Vice-President of the Conservative Party of Canada and a two-term representative for Nova Scotia on the party’s national executive. A native of Louisbourg, Mr. MacDonald is a long-time resident of Dartmouth where he resides with his wife and two teenaged sons.

Prince Edward Island

Michael Duffy is one of Canada’s most well known and respected news personalities and the current host of CTV’s daily program, Mike Duffy Live.  Mr. Duffy joined CBC Radio News in 1974, switched to CBC TV’s “The National” in 1978, and joined CTV in 1988.  He is a member of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  Mr. Duffy is involved in a number of charitable activities both in Ottawa and in his home province, including the UPEI Building fund, and the current Holland College Foundation Fundraising campaign.  He has been a visiting fellow at Duke University; and has been twice nominated for the “Best in the Business” award by the Washington Journalism Review. Mr. Duffy has received many other awards and citations, and honourary degrees from the University of PEI; from Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY; and from Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford.

New Brunswick

Percy Mockler has been a long-time MLA in the New Brunswick legislature since he was first elected in 1982. During his time in the provincial legislature, Mr. Mockler served in a number of portfolio’s including Minister of Wellness, Culture and Sport, Solicitor General and Minister of Human Resources  Development and Housing. Mr. Mockler is a former advisory member for trade opportunities strategy with the federal Department of External Affairs. He has also been active in community affairs as treasurer of local fish and wildlife associations, a director of the caisse populaire, and as a member and chair of his local school board.

John D. Wallace was born in Rothesay, NB and had a distinguished law career in St. John.  Most recently, he served for 7 years as Partner/Counsel at the law firm of Stewart McKelvey.  Previously he had been Corporate Counsel for Irving Oil Limited and a Partner at Palmer, O’Connell, Leger, Turnbull and Turnbull.  Mr. Wallace continued his community service after retiring from law.  He is a Member of the University of New Brunswick Board of Governors, the St. John Imperial Theatre Capital Campaign Cabinet and the New Brunswick Symphony Steering Committee. Mr. Wallace was the Telegraph-Journal Male Newsmaker of the Year in 2002 and became a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.

Quebec

Patrick Brazeau is a member of the Algonquin Nation and a citizen of the Indian reserve of Kitigan Zibi, near Maniwaki, Quebec. A champion of the rights of Aboriginals, in 2006, he was chosen as the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. He used this forum to promote the economic and social development of Aboriginals, especially those who live off-reserve. Mr. Brazeau has a black belt in karate and was a member of the Naval Reserve on HMCS Carleton, in Ottawa.

Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis was born in Chicoutimi and studied at the École des Beaux-arts de Québec and at Laval University, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and a certificate in college education. She was a teacher at the regional school board Louis-Fréchette. In 1981, she became the first woman to be elected to the Municipal Council of the City of Sainte-Foy. She became active in federal politics and was elected as the MP for the riding of Louis-Hébert from 1984 to 1993. Ms. Fortin-Duplessis has always been involved in the community. During her career, she was a member of the board of the Alzheimer Society and the Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec, and she is a member of the Laval hospital and the Saint-Sacrement hospital foundations. More recently, she was a volunteer for the International Eucharistic Congress.

Leo Housakos was born in Montreal and studied at Cégep Vanier and at McGill University, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in arts, with a major in political science and history. In 1993, he co-founded the Montreal Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and is currently a Director of Via Rail Canada.Throughout his business career he has held important management positions in several companies, including Quadvision Consultants and Terrau. Mr. Housakos is married and is the father of two children.

Michel Rivard studied in Quebec City and spent the most part of his professional life in public administration. He was President of the Corporation des maîtres entrepreneurs en réfrigération du Québec, then Mayor of Beauport from 1980 to 1984. Mr. Rivard was director of a number of organizations, and was President of the Executive Committee of the Communauté Urbaine de Québec. In 1994, he was elected at the Assemblée nationale as the MNA for Limoilou. He was Regional Delegate for the region of Quebec and parliamentary Assistant of the Minister responsible for the region of Quebec.

Ontario

Nicole Eaton has devoted much of her life to serving her community in varying degrees through her participation and leadership in a number of charitable organizations, foundations and the arts. Presently she is Director and Vice-Chair of St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, Director and Vice-Chair the National Ballet of Canada and Chair of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. Previously, Ms Eaton has served in varying capacities on a number of other organizations, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the George R. Gardiner Museum, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and the Stratford Festival of Canada. Ms Eaton is also a columnist for the newspaper the National Post and is co-author of two publications.

Irving Gerstein, C.M., O. Ont is a businessman and corporate director.  A Member of both the Order of Canada the Order of Ontario, Mr. Gerstein has been involved in politics for over 40 years, including service as Chair of the Conservative Fund Canada. He is an Honorary Director of Mount Sinai Hospital (Toronto), having previously served as Chairman of the Board, Chairman Emeritus, and a director over a period of twenty-five years.   He is a director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a former Chairman of the Young Presidents Organization.   Mr. Gerstein graduated from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, University of Pennsylvania, and attended The London School of Economics.

Saskatchewan

Pamela Wallin, O.C., S.O.M is an award winning journalist whose career stretches back more than three decades.  Ms. Wallin is most recognized from her time at CTV where she co-hosted Canada AM and later served as CTV’s Ottawa Bureau chief.  Ms. Wallin would subsequently form her own production company Pamela Wallin Productions Inc.   Ms. Wallin has remained active in public life as Chancellor of the University of Guelph and Senior Advisor on Canada-US relations to the President of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.  In 2007, Prime Minister Harper appointed Ms. Wallin to the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan. Ms. Wallin has agreed to step down as Senator and submit her name as a candidate when Saskatchewan holds its first legislated Senate election.

British Columbia

Nancy Greene Raine, O.C., OBC was Canada’s female athlete of the last century by the Canadian Press and Broadcast News.  She won gold and silver medals in alpine skiing at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics and overall World Cup titles in 1967 and 1968. Her total of 14 World Cup victories (including the Olympics) is still a Canadian record. During her nine-year career Nancy won a total of 17 Canadian Championship titles. Since retiring from active competition, she has worked to promote the sport and was instrumental in the early development of the Whistler-Blackcomb Resort.  Since 1994 she has been Director of Skiing at Sun Peaks Resort and since 2005 she has been Chancellor of Thompson Rivers University.  Ms. Green Raine is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of both Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Yonah Martin has deep roots in both Korean and Canadian heritage and has spent her life building bridges between different cultural communities in BC.  Born in Seoul, South Korea, before immigrating to Canada 1972, Ms. Martin is the co-founder of the Corean Canadian Coactive (C3) society and has served on the Multicultural Advisory Council of BC, the Vancouver Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation, the Kateslem After School Club and the Coquitlam Festival Planners Network.   Ms. Martin has also been active in political life as a candidate in the constituency of New Westminster-Coquitlam.  In 2004 Ms. Martin received ‘Spirit of Community’ award for her service in the Tri-Cities Area.

Richard Neufeld has spent close to two decades in public service to the people of British Columbia.  First elected to represent the riding of Peace River North in 1991, Mr. Neufeld has been re-elected on three separate occasions.  Since 2001 Mr. Neufeld has served as British Columbia’s Minister of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources.  Mr. Neufeld has also served as the on the council of Fort Nelson, including five years as mayor.  Prior to his involvement in public life, Mr. Neufeld owned and operated his own business.

Yukon

Hector Daniel Lang has made the Yukon his home for more than 50 years.  Born in 1948 in Dawson Creek, BC, he moved with his family to Whitehorse where he completed high school, and later attended the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.  First elected to the Yukon Legislative Assembly in 1974, Mr Lang served 5 consecutive terms, retiring from the legislature in 1992.  Over the course of his 18 years in elected office he was responsible for numerous Ministerial portfolios and later served in the opposition.  Since 1992, Mr. Lang has worked as a Sales Associate in the Yukon Real Estate industry.  Active in community affairs, he is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors for Yukon College. He has four children and three grandchildren, who reside in Whitehorse. Mr Lang presently lives in Whitehorse with his partner Valerie Hodgson, a local artist.

Senate picks

Newfoundland and Labrador (1 seat) – Fabian Manning

Price Edward Island (1 seat) – Mike Duffy

Nova Scotia (3 seats) – Dr. John Hamm, Michael MacDonald, Stewart McInnes

New Brunswick (2 seats) – Bernard Lord, Doug Finley

Quebec (4 seats) – Mario Dumont, William Shatner, Tasha Kheirridin

Ontario (2 seats) – Irving Gerstein, Sandra Buckler

Saskatchwan (1 seat) – Leave open

British Columbia (3 seats) – Michael Walker, John Weissenberger, Lorne Mayencourt

Yukon (1 seat) – Leslie Neilson

The appointment of Fabian Manning to the Senate from Newfoundland would send a signal to Premier Danny Williams that if he wants to deal with the federal government, he’ll do it through the man into whose fields he’s been plowing salt for the last few years.  Newfoundlanders would respect and admire the cheekiness of that move.

In PEI, Mike Duffy would be a good choice. Duffy’s been a veteran broadcaster and public figure for decades. He’s also the island’s favourite son and would be a good representative in the Red Chamber.

In Nova Scotia, former Premier John Hamm is a stateman for Nova Scotia and is respected by all no matter their partisan stripe. Michael McDonald has been Harper’s point man in Nova Scotia for years serving on National Council and running twice federally and thrice provincially. He also serves as a liason between federal and provincial parties. Stewart McInnes is a fixture in Nova Scotia PC politics. A former Mulroney cabinet minister, McInnes resigned as fundrasier for the PC Party of Nova Scotia just hours ago .  Does this mean he’s up for another job?

New Brunswick has an obvious choice in Bernard Lord. The former PC Premier has been integrated on the strategic side of federal politics for some time. Lord was the national co-chair of the 2008 federal campaign and provides a bridge to the Charest side of the conservative family.  Current director of CPC operations Doug Finley is a shoo-in for the Senate, in my opinion. Senator David Smith has run campaigns for the Liberals for some time from the Red Chamber so the appointment of Doug Finley would be seen as an acceptable move by the PM.

Quebec presents a challenge to Stephen Harper as the PM has toiled spending the last few years building a fledgling organization in that province. There aren’t too many Conservatives there who have been around for a generation of the modern Conservative movement. Mario Dumont made his exit from Quebec politics this week and may find his return as a senator from Quebec. Dumont has been an ally of the Prime Minister and this would satiate the smaller ADQ elements in Harper’s Quebec machine.  William Shatner is a conservative from Montreal and was the first Canadian in space (he did and did so boldly). Shatner would be a nod to Quebec’s arts community and would be noteworthy because in itself! Women will be on the PM’s shortlist for the senate and Quebec author and standard-bearer for the conservative movement in Quebec Tasha Kheiriddin would be a good choice.

In Ontario, senior Conservatives that I’ve spoken to would be surprised if Irving Gerstein was not named to the Senate.  Gerstein is the head of the Conservative fund, the fundraising organization for the Conservative Party.  Sandra Buckler’s name has also made the short list for Senate.  As Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Buckler is and remains a loyalist who fought for the PM in the trenches and pushed the Conservative agenda against the rough grain of the MSM.  I would be very happy to see Buckler return to the fold so that she can have the resources to fight even harder as a hard-nosed, no prisoners activist for Conservative cause.

Saskatchewan presents an interesting challenge. The province has committed to hold an election for the Senate next year. Let them. If Harper holds off on appointing a senator and a coalition government swoops in and does this anyway, the damage to those parties in the province would be irreperable. If the Prime Minister does appoint a senator from Saskatchewan, my choice would be Elwin Hermanson, the founder of the Saskatchewan Party.

In British Columbia there are a few people lobbying for a seat, among them is Gurmant Grewal (not gonna happen).  Another person’s name I’ve heard passed about has been that of John Reynolds.  Likely senators that the PM may appoint include Michael Walker (founder of the Fraser Institute), Lorne Mayencourt (party loyalist) and John Weissenberger (former ministerial chief of staff and founding member of the Reform Party).  Weissenberger is the type who would resign immediately to elect a senator if given the chance.  Longer shots are former MP Betty Hinton and Conservative national councillor Hamish Marshall.

Yukon territory also has a senate seat free. I’d pick Leslie Neilson because he’s a prominant conservative Canadian from the Yukon and his brother Erik was deputy Prime Minister. Neilson is most famous for the Naked Gun movies and has campaigned for charity for the March of Dimes.

I find it deeply unfortunate and immensely frustrating that the PM has been forced into this position of appointing senators. Ideally, as conservatives, we’d like to have them all elected.  The appointment of Senators is a defensive measure by the PM as a coalition government would appoint senators uninterested in senate reform or worse, with separatist sympathies. I would want the PM to secure a pledge from any appointed senator that they would resign and/or stand for election at the earliest opportunity. The appointment of Senators should only be a temporary measure as provinces commit to holding elections.

UPDATE: As some readers point out correctly, Shatner (77) and Neilson (82) are too old (in the constitutional sense) for the senate. The lower age limit is 30 and the upper limit is 75. Could Shatner launch a successful Charter challenge? Or could he slingshot himself around the sun and return to 1986?

So we have a couple of spots open in Quebec and one in the Yukon. Who would you name to the Senate?

Paul Zed to run Ignatieff campaign

I’ve learned tonight from sources close to the Ignatieff team that Paul Zed will head up Ignatieff’s leadership campaign as his National Director. Zed is the former Ignatieff 2006 national Liberal leadership co-chair and a former Saint John, New Brunswick MP.

UPDATE: An reader points out that Zed’s been the one doing media on how Ignatieff isn’t a fan of the coalition.

McKenna or LeBlanc?

The word late tonight is that either Frank McKenna or Dominic Leblanc will be entering the race to replace Stephane Dion as leader of the federal Liberal party. McKenna has stated to friends that he’s not particularly interested at this time, and I’ve learned that McKenna feels that with the economy in its current shape, he doesn’t want to challenge Harper in the current economic climate (in other words, he doesn’t want to strike at the confidence of Canadians by challenging the PM’s direction on the economy as the head of TD Bank). A partner at McInnes Cooper, McKenna’s former law firm has confidence that McKenna will enter the race, however, others have told me that the former New Brunswick premier will not be leaving the corporate sector to rebuild a party’s finances and ideology from the ground up.

This is good news for Dominic LeBlanc, who covets the top job of Trudeau’s party. LeBlanc would have likely deferred to McKenna if the elder New Brunswicker wanted to throw his hat into the ring. However, with McKenna not interested in the top job, this clears the way for Leblanc. If Leblanc enters the fray, I’m hearing that he’ll have the support of Justin Trudeau and the organizational muscle of Paul Martin’s team. Martin’s braintrust includes Liberal Party heavyweight Steve MacKinnon, who is close to McKenna. An alternative theory is that Leblanc is entering the race on McKenna’s behalf as a stalking horse to build the organization and team for a late entry by the former Premier.