Monday, October 18, 2010

Maxime Bernier

Greetings Friends,

With the US midterm elections fast approaching, I thought I'd focus on a goofball Canadian politician to assuage my fury about the Democratic Party flushing the first 2 years of Barack Obama's presidency down the toilet. Actually, he's not innocent in all this, but Congress hasn't done him any favours. I'm doing my level best to ignore the Tea Party/witchcraft element of this upcoming election, and hoping against hope that the Republicans don't make the inroads everyone seems to think they will. 2 years isn't nearly enough time to fix the mess George W. Bush left behind; politics is one area where we cannot expect instant gratification.

Maxime Bernier is a Conservative Canadian MP (Member of Parliament) from Beauce Quebec. He was elected in 2006 by a landslide victory, and has since become one of the most notorious MPs in the current Parliament. Why? He's good-looking, brash, and has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth with the same alarming regularity as Vice President Joe Biden. He's certainly good for some interesting sound bites on occasion, and his political back story has been nothing short of hilarious, at least from my American perspective. Unfortunately, there isn't anything involving same-sex airport bathroom trysts, or explicit text messaging of male congressional pages, but you have to admit, some of this is pretty amusing:

After being appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in August 2007, he caused a major diplomatic scandal during an April 2008 visit to Afghanistan when he called for the resignation of the governor of Kandahar. This dust up may have lead to the escape of about one thousand prisoners believed to be affiliated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The perception that the Canadian government was influencing the Afghan government regarding political appointments (sound familiar?) lead to an escalation of the civil war and the threat to target Canadian soldiers in the area. The governor was removed from office anyway, but big mouth Bernier's call for his resignation made things that much more unpleasant for NATO troops.

Shortly after the Afghan gaffe, it was discovered that Bernier's girlfriend had past romantic ties to high-ranking members of the Quebec chapter of the Hell's Angels. After their breakup, Bernier admitted to leaving sensitive briefing notes to an upcoming NATO meeting at her residence. The Foreign Affairs department was unaware these documents had gone missing for five weeks. Of course, Bernier's girlfriend returned the papers to Foreign Affairs, went to the media, and well, you can figure out the rest. Bernier resigned from his post as Foreign Affairs Minister on May 26, 2008, but retained his parliamentary seat and has since been re-elected.

Presently, Maxime Bernier continues to stir the pot in Parliament. Now considered a "backbencher", he still manages to stay in the public eye, "going rogue" with contrarian speeches, and not so delicately inferring that he might be interested in the big chair. Given the political climate here in Canada, I wouldn't be surprised if he challenged current Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the leadership of the Conservative party. When you compare Bernier's antics to those of American politicians, the level of scandal doesn't register. But, here in the Great White North, he's considered a pretty noteworthy shit disturber. I happen to find all this hilarious.

The beauty of being a citizen of two countries is that it gives me the opportunity to bash two governments. I will not be voting in the upcoming US mid term elections, because I am no longer a resident of a particular state. But, I will be voting in the municipal elections here in Toronto next week. After all, voting not only exercises your right as a citizen in a democratic society, it gives you the right to bitch about those who represent you. And that's what it's all about.


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