Home > Conservatives, Federal > Wasting Our Time With The Ex-Girlfriends of Ministers

Wasting Our Time With The Ex-Girlfriends of Ministers

May 8, 2008

It seems that the opposition are attacking Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier because of his ex-girlfriend, who was linked to the Hell’s Angels. It seems that people are forgetting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms here:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

d): freedom of association.

And we wonder why many good people don’t want to go into politics.

I mean, after all, we don’t see the opposition wondering aloud in Question Period if Laureen Harper or Valorie Day are security threats, do we?

It’s time for parliamentarians of all stripes to stop wasting their time on such trivial matters and get to work.

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Categories: Conservatives, Federal
  1. May 8, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    I simply couldn’t disagree more with you than I do! When any senior cabinet minister takes on a role like ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs’ they unfortunately give up certain freedoms. They require security protection and generally aren’t able to just wander around alone. They also have to be careful who they consort with. If someone with bad intentions (criminal or foreign intelligence) decided to get close to a senior minister like Bernier, national security could be at stake. This happened in the 1960’s to Conservaitve Cabinet Minister Hees, when it was determined that his girlfriend, the woman who accompanied him on trips and shared his dinner table and bed was an East German spy. That was the Gerda Munsinger Scandal and you would think that Conservatives would have learned the lesson.

    For someone who has had numerous connections with biker gangs and who was herself arrested in the past in matters that involved gang wars and murders, this is not a case of everyone staying out of Bernier’s business.

    He has shown very bad judgment once again and the Prime Minister’s slack handling of the matter with one of his most senior cabinet members is shocking!!

  2. Northern BC Dipper
    May 8, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    It would seem then, not only do you want to deny Bernier’s right to freedom of association, but Couillard’s as well.

    I can’t see that just because she associated with biker gangs 10 years or so in the past, does not mean that she had bad intentions in regards to her relationship to Bernier. In fact, there has been no proof of bad intentions what-so-ever on Couillard’s part.

    Again, it is this type of disgusting personal attack that makes people apathetic about politics and keeps good people from running.

  3. May 8, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    The issue here is not ‘freedom of association’ – the issue here is bad judgment on the part of one of the most senior serving Members of the Government of Canada (who has amply demonstrated poor performance to date).

  4. May 8, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Personally I could care less who Bernier, as a civilian, associates with, but put this in the context of some poor slob who’s just trying to get a job in the federal civil service. For virtually any government job today a security clearance is required. If that person had a relationship with someone who was a known associate of criminals, it’s extremely unlikely they would get the clearance necessary in order to get the job. So they’d be SOL.
    Now we’ve got a senior cabinet minister (number 3 in the pecking order after the PM if my info is correct) who has access to all sorts of higher level secrets than any junior clerk, and you’re telling me that it isn’t necessary for the people with whom he associates to be security cleared? Or that he exercise some judgement himself?

  5. May 8, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I agree. I’d rather minimize government intrusion in private lives. It’s not a sufficient argument to say,

    For virtually any government job today a security clearance is required. If that person had a relationship with someone who was a known associate of criminals, it’s extremely unlikely they would get the clearance necessary in order to get the job.

    Yes. This is true. It’s also a hideous violation of privacy and completely irrelevant to merit in all but a very limited number of cases (the most upper levels of CSIS, perhaps). There’s no logical justification for this requirement for regular civil service jobs.

    Just because it’s prevalent doesn’t mean that it’s just.

  6. Northern BC Dipper
    May 8, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Wow, what has the world come to?

    Anytime a cabinet minister wants to have a relationship with somebody, he/she has to get a partnership with their potential partner?

    Anyway, funny thing is, Couillard would probably pass the background check anyway, seeing how she has apparently no criminal record, with her big black mark being that she associated with bikers 10 years ago.

    I’d say this situation has everything to do with freedom of association.

  7. May 9, 2008 at 2:51 am

    I agree with NBCDipper to a point, however I still want to know if the Mr. Bernier practiced due diligence in this matter. I mean it is beyond belief that a Quebec politician (given their history) would fail to see the potential security problem of having a biker-connected girlfriend. The least he should have done is talk to the security people about the situation before getting too deeply involved. On the other hand, I think the opposition parties are playing with fire here. They risk bringing American-style, no-holds-barred, personal politics, to Canada. What I don’t want to see is a story in the paper every time an MP visits a house of ill repute. As long as their personal life has no impact on their professional one, I just don’t care.

  8. Lord Kitchener's Own
    May 9, 2008 at 5:44 am

    I’m on the fence here.

    First, I don’t think Bernier has done anything particularly “wrong” here, so there’s that. I’m not so sure “bad judgment” even applies since, as far as I can tell from the reports, he wasn’t aware of this woman’s past associations when he got involved with her, and he ended the relationship when he found out (that’s how the reported it on CTV last night). Now, if you want to say that he should have run a security check on her when he started dating her, as a matter of course, then OK, but I don’t expect a Minister to vet his personal associates on his own accord when it’s not standard procedure, and I don’t necessarily consider failing to go above and beyond standard procedure a “lack of judgment” on the the part of a Minister.

    Now, all that being said, I think security checks SHOULD be a requirement of all cabinet ministers (or at the very least the senior cabinet ministers), and I’m shocked to find out that they aren’t. As David B. says, for senior civil servants security checks are standard procedure. Van’t get a job without one. Their families, close associates, cleaning ladies for Pete’s sake, are all vetted (Robert Fife was talking about that on CTV last night too). Cabinet Ministers don’t get this treatment, and that’s idiotic. Now you may, as Kuri does, believe that security checks are over used (though I’d certainly want them for more than just “the most upper levels of CSIS” for God’s sake). Even so though, look at who we’re talking about here!!! He’s the MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS for God’s sake. He’s ABOVE many of the most senior officers in CSIS. He took his girlfriend to a secret military base in Dubai that DOESN’T OFFICIALLY EXIST. He has access to files most people in CSIS will never see.

    You can argue that too many civil servants are forced to under go stringent security clearance procedures. But don’t tell me the Minister of Foreign Affairs doesn’t rise to the level necessary for such a procedure. I think it can be argued that ALL cabinet ministers should probably be cleared, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs?

    NO BRAINER.

    Again, however, this is a procedural thing that needs to be fixed, and this incident with Bernier is what highlights the need. Not Bernier’s fault, and Bernier did nothing wrong. People should lay off Bernier (on this point) and focus on what’s needed to protect Canadians. That doesn’t mean taking down Bernier, it means protecting Bernier, or at least future Ministers, by tightening up our security procedures.

    Bernier’s not holding the ball.

    Let’s get our eyes back on the ball.

  9. j
    May 9, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I agree that Bernier is a bone-head and an embarrassing Cabinet Minister. He should be lampooned (by blogs, press, mercer) until Harper shuffles him out. The Libs and the Bloc can even bring it up in the HOC – so long as it doesn’t dominate QP. Third fourth question – strictly backbench fodder.
    I would like to point out that it wasn’t the ‘opposition parties’ that went after this, it was the Libs and Bloc. Jack rose in QP yesterday and asked the PM to address the growing income gap. Comartin refused to discuss it in scrum because he felt it was a personal matter.

  10. May 9, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I would like to point out that it wasn’t the ‘opposition parties’ that went after this, it was the Libs and Bloc.

    Good point, j. I have to say, with all of the other reasons to not like this government, this “issue” is way down a the bottom of the list. Let’s get back to talking about the environment and the economy, please!

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