07.15.2013 07:55 PM

In Tuesday’s Sun: the pipsqueak and the cabinet

Sometimes, in political life, you get credit for what you do. More commonplace are those occasions where you get none.

Consider, then, Stephen Harper’s newly minted cabinet. Unveiled Monday, the big shuffle brought eight new faces to the cabinet table, many of them women. Considering Harper’s cabinet previously had all the feminist sensibilities of the Mad Men TV series, this was noteworthy.

Among those who were elevated to the big kids’ table were Calgary’s Michelle Rempel, who is one of the most impressive members of this or any Parliament, and Ontario’s Kellie Leitch, who is arguably one of the smartest. Apropos the age, we all found out about Harper’s newfound enthusiasm for gender parity on Twitter, where it was declared the prime minister was “proud to be naming four new strong, capable women” to cabinet.

Welcome to the new century, Mr. Prime Minister! While none of them could be called “new” (they’ve been sitting behind you in the Commons, patiently, for years), they are indeed “women,” and having more women in cabinet can only be a good thing. Men start wars and men commit more crime. So, congratulations.

The other changes you made — with one notable exception — don’t matter so much. As this space has noted previously, cabinet shuffles in the Harper era are irrelevant. All real power resides with the neatly barbered 20-somethings in PMO; the rest of cabinet is mostly there to give the country the illusion that we still have parliamentary democracy.

The one exception to the accolades — the one thing Harper shouldn’t have done, but did — is Pipsqueak Pierre Poilievre. Along with the now-departed Vic Toews, and the yet-to-be departed Dean Del Mastro, Pipsqueak is one of the Conservative Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Like the Biblical Horsemen, everything he says and does is bad. Everything that is good that he touches withers and dies.

Pipsqueak, who Harper actually named minister of state for democratic reform, is in fact one of the most despicable, loathsome politicians to ever grace the national stage. He is a pestilence made flesh.

A refresher: Pipsqueak is the Conservative MP who famously joked about “tar babies” in the House of Commons, a derogatory term to describe blacks. He is the MP who attacked Harper for compensating aboriginal residential schools victims, opining that what those lazy natives needed was “hard work.” He is the MP who told his fellow MPs “f— you guys,” and then later said he would “confiscate” the tape of the occasion.

He is the Conservative MP who can always be counted upon to do the bidding of the adolescents in PMO. He is the MP who even big-C Conservative commentators, like the Ottawa Citizen’s Randy Denley, say is the poster child of “red-necked bigots” in his Nepean-Carleton riding. Ouch.

There is more, much more, but you get the point. Pipsqueak Pierre Poilievre is a disgrace to Parliament. He is a joke. And whatever Harper may have accomplished with his shuffle was unalterably diminished by the promotion of Pipsqueak.

Stephen Harper deserves credit for realizing, very late in his political career, that he had been doing a disservice to the many smart women in his parliamentary caucus.

He deserves no credit at all for letting Pipsqueak into cabinet.


  1. Mark says:

    Poilievre is a disgrace, and aside from Dean del Maestro and Rob Anders, I can’t think of a Conservative MP who deserves a cabinet post less. At least the four new female appointees might help make up for this appalling lack of judgement.

  2. Lester Cratchet says:

    “he made close friends and alliances with his lifelong political mentors Tom Flanagan…” (wiki) – need we say more?

    “democratic reform” the euphemism of the century

    establishing a radical, libertarian, petro-state by any means

    impose their Namblaesque and Deliverance-style mores upon a once modern and progressive nation

    There Will Be Blood II

  3. Cynical says:

    I’ve heard him called “Skippy”.
    A disgrace to the species.

  4. MCBellecourt says:

    Whomever he appoints reflects on Harper himself, and the fact that “Pipsquesk” was appointed reveals more about Harper than all the others combined. A decent person would have booted Skippy out of caucus a long time ago.

    Putting this guy into cabinet undoes any good whatsoever that may have gone into the others.

    You don’t think he’s being groomed for successor, do you Warren? hmmm….nawwww…but then again, Harper WAS dumb enough to put him in Cabinet! Too bad I didn’t have any takers on that bet!

  5. LD says:

    Warren … you nailed it !!! …. Big time!!

    • LD says:

      postscript: CBC’s political panel brought up the point that Poilievre’s appointment may well be a signal that the Conservatives are preparing for a battle royale with Elections Canada on issues like Robocalls.

  6. Philippe says:

    That little midget embodies every single thing that repulses regular folk about politicians. He stands for nothing- has no honour, and stokes fears with ignorant one-liners while appealing the the lowest common denominator. It won’t matter as much after the next election, when these redneck Cons get relegated to the opposition.

    Rant over.

    • Canada Joe says:

      By who? Tommy foot in mouth? Don’t make me laugh. Or like the last three show-stoppers that the Liberals coughed-up as “leaders”

      Paul “I wrecked my own party” Martin

      Stephane “I speaka no english” Dion

      Michael “Just popping-in” Ignatieff

      Oh yeah, real threats all three.

      As for Justin “Me like Daddy” Trudeau, I have seen pancakes flip-flop less.

      So really, think you can beat Harper? Prove it! Because you have done it yet.

      • Kaspar Juul says:

        Oh such arrogance. You are a true keyboard warrior America Joe

      • Kevin T. says:

        I hear Canada Joe is just like Joe the Plumber, not a real Canada.

      • Gerry says:

        Here’s the thing Joe. Judging by your reply one can gather where your mind is at and it is not Canadian. What is happening in this country is that most would like anyone but the Cons. Reason? The direction they are taking our country and the methods they are using to make it happen. And if it were Liberals or NDP or Greens, I would be saying the same thing. Democracy implies debate and compromise when needed. It implies open discussion. What we have is an autocratic government driven by ideology of the past that will affect our future. There is real danger in this since many of their decisions without debate or discussion will be our future.

      • McQuaid says:

        I just love it when Cons show their true colours. They so often masquerade as persons of good will; as if dismantling the social network is an honorable task, not just doing the bidding of the nastiest forces in society.
        It’s good to see ‘Joe’ put the lie to the notion of civility and respect for opposition.
        Thanks, Canada Joe. It’s good to see the Cons have guys like you in their corner.
        Now, do you work in the PMO or are you simply slumming today?


      • Michael Bussiere says:

        Have the guts to use your real name when making an ethnic slur about a minority group, Joe. It’ll give everybody the impression you actually have a backbone and not just a hateful attitude.

        • Canada Joe says:

          Oh tsk tsk, you new Liberals so lack the thick skins of the old Liberals. Of course nearly 10 years of constant defeats tend too make people, um, testy. Still you can talk big when you defeat Harper, which none of your “leaders” have done yet. Trudeau’s your last shot. If he fails, then what? Some kind of Liberal Party Jonestown?

          • Philippe says:

            Polling has Trudeau crushing the Cons, hence the reason the more intelligent types in your party (who seem few and far between) are nervous.

            Nobody knows for sure how it’ll turn out, but what I’m hearing from folks on the street (that includes the Tim Hortons blue collar types you like to pander to) is that people are sick of you. With your hyper-partisan bs, and scandals up the ying-yang, you’ve become an abomination- and Canadians can’t wait to get rid of you.

          • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

            Lets not forget the simmering back bench revolt either, shall we?……the Cons under “Dear Leader” have become everything they despised under former govts……..Open?, accountable?…..my eye……
            It will only take the courage of a few more po’d backbenchers, and polling numbers continuing into the toilet, to cause open rebellion… and your Napoleon and his puppies in the PMO will be done like dinner…..along with Peter “Squealer” Van Loan…..

  7. Sean says:

    Warren: re. “…yet to be departed Dean Del Mastro” Is something brewing which hasn’t yet hit the media?

    • !o! says:

      his campaign spending is under investigation

      • Sean says:

        I believe his campaign(s) are under a total of three investigations which the public is currently aware of. These being robocalls, cheque swapping and a spending limit violation. I was wondering if there was anything new or if any of these investigations are about to show some reults soon.

        • not exactly. He paid a honking big campaign invoice with a personal cheque, which makes that cheque sort of a contribution exceeding contribution limits. He probably did that because paying it with a campaign cheque would have put him over the spending limits ( yes, he overspent). Then there is the cheque swapping thing, but technically it appears it is his cousin who orchestrated the cheque swapping thing by reimbursing employees $1,050 for their $1,000 contributions, and leaving them with the refundable tax credit in their own hands (a tidy profit of $450 for every employee who did not mind breakingthe elections finance act).

    • MCBellecourt says:

      And, doesn’t Shelly Glover still have an issue to settle with Elections Canada?

  8. Marie says:

    Kellie Leitch 4 status of women? OMFG, she who ignores her oath and puts asbestos before ethics. We need a War on Stupid.

  9. Glenna Miles says:

    I’ve decided that politics is just the price of doing business while rewriting Canada’s history before instituting a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Canadian Legacy. FECAL for short. Warping and morphing our democratic ideals into Ideology that supports the Religious Right and the Corporations who fund them to get what they want in return. Social democracy is dead in Canada right now as the next moves by Harper and fiends will further erode all the good things we as a people have worked so hard to achieve, veterans fought for and the rest of the World has envied. If we allow this to happen with our eyes wide open I have no hope that we will move beyond these dark days with any certainty of returning to a state of grace. Harper needs a worthy opponent. Thirty three Million Canadians. One Harper.

    • The Doctor says:

      So what has this government done to institute a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Canadian Legacy, specifically? Ban abortion? Institute mandatory school prayer? Please enlighten us.

  10. Mulletaur says:

    Pipsqueak had to be rewarded for all those years as Harper’s Commons hit man. It’s all very ‘fin du régime’. Sadly for Pierre, his Cabinet position is so ridiculously unsuitable and mockworthy that it’s more of an an insult than a reward.

  11. DJ says:

    Pipsqueak gave all the wrong answers during the Duffy/Wallin affair. He was called on it for his lame defences by respected commentators. Harper made a big mistake by promoting this idiot. Harper is actually starting to wear his welcome. He needs to take a walk in the snow this winter. Game over. I laugh at the thought of PM Jason Kenney. If Liberals get back any sanity, they will go for the jugular against any future CPC leader. Wishy washy, positive campaigns don’t cut it. Dredge up everything you have against the next Conservative blowhard.

  12. Brian says:

    So just what the hell is so impressive about Michelle Rempel? Last I saw her, she was regurgitating vapid Conservative talking points on the news shows about how Nigel Wright did the honorable thing, and he cut a $90,000 cheque that squelched Mike Duffy’s audit so be the taxpayers’ knight in shining armor. Some people like Rathgeber have more dignity and integrity than to sell themselves out to Stephen Harper for a fast track to cabinet, but clearly not her.

    The Conservative cabinet minister to Y chromosome ratio has gone down in Ottawa. Whooptie frigging doo.

  13. ottawacon says:

    You do have to give full marks for irony…Minister of State for Democratic Reform, aka the guy who destroys any semblance of usefulness in Question Period.

  14. Anne says:

    No contest with your assessment of Pierre le pew, but more women? Lord do I have to be the resident feminist here? He did appoint new female faces but additional ones? make that One. And the whole bunch look like a second rate high school team led by jaded and third rate teachers in a bad movie. Ideology over evidence. That is what our country is now. Did anyone watch Cabaret over the weekend? A little song in a beer garden….

  15. PeggyW says:

    The appointment of Pollievre does indeed say it all about Harper”s true colors, more than all the other window dressing that he acheived with this shuffle. Imagine- capable women! But all the fresh, young faces in the world mean nothing if they’re still spewing the same old, tired talking points that have been prepared for them by the PMO, and all of these new appointees have already proven themselves to be loyal soldiers on the political show circuit. And to place the odious Pierre Pollievre in charge of democratic reform….WTF!?!?

  16. Billy boy says:

    I was with you until the men start wars and are more criminally minded. You see it makes it sound that we need more women in parliament because they are more caring, nurturing, etc all of which only serves to reproduce the binary essentialist logic that has cemented patriarchy over the generations. Women in parliament is a good thing because equality is a foundational aspiration of democracy.

    • PeggyW says:

      Besides, most of the women seem to embrace the existing political game as it is played once they are elected, unfortunately. Easier just to join the boy’s club, maybe.

    • How about Women in Parliament (and Cabinet) is a good thing because women are significantly different from men, and therefore our democratic institutions will represent(politically) Canadians better when they themselves are more representative(demographically) of Canadians?

  17. Lynn says:

    It is like we have just been given the finger gesture (not the we are number one finger) by Harper — when Pierre “I will say anything” Pipsqueak is given the position related to democratic reform, I am waiting to hear the news that the departments will be consolidating and names changes will be imminent with The Ministry of Truth being led by M. Pipsqueak. Must be time to make a few revisions to the public record and get the “truth” out there; the lies, crimes and misdemeanors will be erased from all those pesky official documents and he is the man for the job. CBC also noted that the new cabinet are all members who stuck to the script, respect the PMO, and have not made any waves during the recent upheavals which is why they got the prize, in other words, complete and utter drones who would not disobey dear leader. Heave Steve 2015.

    • Windsurfer says:

      Please do not refer to my MP Leitch as a drone. Automaton is the preferred term. Surprising, for someone so skilled that she picked that party to run for.

  18. Michael Bussiere says:

    On a sidebar, ambitious Mr. Kenney must be royally ticked he’s been shunted to the Department of Boring and won’t be dining on all that delicious ‘ethnic’ food with all those nice ‘ethnic’ “they’re really just like us once you get to know them” voters anymore. HRDC isn’t exactly a launch pad to the PMO. Thanks Steve.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      True that, but I’m sure Jason “Which way to the Buffet?” Kenney appreciates the opportunity to slim down before his run for the top job……

    • Cynical says:

      As a sidebar to a sidebar, (and know I could Godwinize this thread), whenever I see Kenney, all I can think of is Ernst Röhm. Can’t help it. Feel free to ban me, Warren.

  19. robin says:

    What Wallin and Duffy accomplished for the Conservative with their abuse of taxpayers’ money, Mr. Poilievre surpass with his abusive mouth. It’s going to entertaining although troublesome for believers in democracy. Yet, he may surprise us; he may be the one to bring in reforms to reassure Canadians that the Harper Government does care about fair elections in Canada; after all, only Nixon could go to China. There’s a slim hope that the Conservatives may see this as an opportunity to modernize Canada’s election and election financing laws with more severe penalties. It would also enhance Mr. Poilierve’s image, going from a “stand your ground” defender of inaction and dubious practises, he emerges as the champion of important changes to better regulate fair elections. Am I dreaming?

  20. Glen says:

    If there are aliens watching us right now I guarantee they are saying “Seriously? That guy?”

  21. Hmm. Poilievre is the ideal choice for ‘Democratic Reform’, because nothing is going to happen on that front except for a LOT of bombast. Senate Reform is going to be the target, but it is a target that is inviolable due to the requirement for constitutional amendment. The CPC will not need to create any viable amendments or legislation. What they will really want to do is to huff and puff about what they will do about that rascally Senate, and stand back to let the opposition oppose them on it. Despite the fact that there is no reform possible, an aresewipe like Poilievre will wave the red towel, and the Mulcair, and a great many Liberals will rise to the bait, and appear to defend the ‘status quo’ or even worse, defend the Senate. A large number of voters will assure themselves that the CPC wanted to do something about it, but those dirty opposition types got in the way. It is kindergarten politics, but it seems that Canadians are at about that maturity level (politically anyway), so plenty of people will lap it up. So yeah, I can see why the biggest dink on the hill (now that Toews is gone) gets the job. He is going to generate plenty of noise.

    • Windsurfer says:

      You are using inflammatory language calling him a dink.

      The least you could do is refer to the correct anatomical feature: gonad.

      Remember though, way back in the Harper Bunker Den where all policy is concocted, they approve of this person’s posting. So, be advised that you’re about to be check-mated, somewhere, sometime.

      • robin says:

        @Windsurfer, the correct term for “dink” is “penis” however it lacks the appropriate connotation to be pejorative. Gonads are testicles or “balls” which none of the Harper Cabinet seem to possess since they fear Canadians reaction if they were actually open, transparent and accountable.

  22. Randell says:

    “Pipsqueak is the Conservative MP who famously joked about “tar babies” in the House of Commons, a derogatory term to describe blacks.”

    Actually what a “tar baby” actually describes is something that sticks to you and you can’t get rid of no matter how much you try. Some ignorant people unfamiliar with the term have mistaken thought it was a racial slur against Black babies because tar is black colored. However the actual term has nothing to do with dark skinned people and actually comes from a story about a figure of a person made of tar that someone gets into a fight with and gets stuck to it. Just wanted to clear that up.

    • Kind of like saying a golliwog is just a rag doll that happens to be black. Oh dear…. All I can suggest is go look at an illustrated copy of Brer Rabit and the Tar Baby. ( a non-disney one that is)

  23. Rocker Portwell says:

    I suspect the promotion of the young Mr. Poilievre represents the real political and policy yearnings of Prime Minister Harper. Those smart capable women? Just Harperite window dressing.

  24. Lorne says:

    So Harper has his “rat pack” similar to Chretien’s rat pack. Go figure!

    Harper has learned well from Chretien after being pummeled politically by Chretien. One of Chretien’s lesson that Harper learned was to strike first and strike fast while your political enemies like on summer siesta. Chretien told Ignatieff and even Rae advised Ignatieff to bring down the Harper Conservatives quickly, but he hesitated and is now a professor again. Politicians who hesitate become losers quickly.

    During the Liberal leadership campaign, Trudeau gave us a lot of hope when he proclaimed he was leading a ‘generational change’ within the struggling Liberal party and it sounded like he meant it too. Ironically, shrewd Harper co-opted the Liberal generational change into his Cabinet shuffle. He stole ‘generational change’ right from under Justin’s nose!

    How will Justin be able to implement his generational change to the Liberal party? Will he find new and younger Liberal candidates with absolutely no House of Commons experience and try to sell Canadians on that ‘shuffle’? When will Justin’s promising young candidates appear, in 2015 on the eve of the October election? Too late.

    What about all the distinguished veteran Liberal MPs surrounding Justin in the HOCs? What will happen to them now?

    Has Harper whipsawed the Liberal war-room led by Gerald Butts with a strategy straight out of Chretien’s playbook? What was that saying that Harper plays chess while the others are still hopping about playing checkers?!

    In his Hope & Hard Work leadership campaign speech, Trudeau said: “I’m asking you for your time, for your smarts, for your hope, and your hard work.” Somebody in the Liberal war-room had better stop hoping and start getting smart because hard work is just not enough against the Harper Conservatives!

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      Holy regurgitated talking points Lorne! That must have been quite the fax from CPC headquarters

      • Lorne says:

        Kaspar! Go back to your toking schedule and avoid heavy thinking that disturbs your semi-conscious mind. I am an unhappy Liberal who refuses to live in lala land and ignore the storm clouds gathering over the Liberal party. Expect the worse and you will recognize and be able to cope with the worse as it hits you unexpectedly. You can go back to your rah-rah existence and pretend Liberals will be victorious in 2015. I can’t do that since the Martin debacle and then followed up by others. Justin is just a one-man show now and still unproven politically… popularity yes, politics no.

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          Wow Lorne, must have hit a nerve. Insults? Didnt you decry insults in another comment.

          Guess we know about the CPC talking points now. Unhappy Liberal that refuses to live in la la land; more like concern troll.

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