Friday, August 28, 2009

Our new man in Washington -- Gary Doer???

Besides the Governor General's post or a vacant Senate seat, the ultimate patronage appointment in Canada is an ambassadorship to the UK, the US, France, Australia, Germany or the Holy See (i.e. Vatican City).
Imagine the surprise today to learn that "Steve" Harper has appointed one of his arch-enemies, the ND's Gary Doer (ex-prison guard and later head of the Manitoba public servants union, and who resigned this week from the Premiership of Manitoba halfway into a third four-year term), to be Canada's man in Washington. It's even more surprising considering that Mike Wilson -- Mulroney's long-time Finance Minister and later the President of the Mental Health Association -- gave absolutely no indication he wanted to leave the Canadian Chancellry before his six-year term was up; he's been in for only 3½.

You'd think that if Harper wanted to do away with an enemy, he'd give him one of the least desirable ambassadorships -- say, Zimbabwe. Or a Crown Corporation so hapless that its only option is to privatize. This kind of reminds of when Mulroney appointed Stephen Lewis to be Ambassador to the UN.
Don't get me wrong; Doer is an excellent choice. Given he's well respected (if not liked) by other colleagues of all political stripes and is already well known by most state governors as well as the governing mayor of Washington, he should have no problem making the rounds in the even more divided Beltway. But you can bet that there will be more than a few people in the Conservative caucus who feel they're owed such a privileged post. Not to mention grumbling within the career diplomatic corps that someone who's worked the ranks for years is due such an important job, especially during a continuing recession.

Trying to conquer the opposition via triangulation, when you're in a minority situation, may not necessarily be a good idea -- it could very well backfire.

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Cari said...

I sometimes think that Harper went too fast..Doer's news of retiring was not cold yet..seems fishy to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking Harper needed someone in Washington who would soften his hard right agenda.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: the NDP lead by Jack Layton is going nowhere. They need a leader who's progressive and middle of the road and Doer was the most obvious option. With Doer - charming, successful, capable of leading - at the helm, it would have been game over for the Cons.

However, Steve has prempted any legitimate competition from the NDP by putting it at a far distance to the House of Commons for at least 4 years.

It's all chess and Steve just yelled 'check mate'.