Saturday, May 17, 2008

Short memories at the Globe

Mark MacGuigan went straight from Minister of Justice to Federal Court judge after losing Liberal leadership in 1984

Perhaps no one at the Winnipeg Free Press or the Globe and Enquirer is old enough to remember the late Mark MacGuigan, who went straight from being Liberal Minister of Justice to a seat on the Federal Court of Canada, after losing the Liberal leadership in 1984.

Then again, maybe the Globe is aware of this history, but thinks that Mrs. Toews’ monthly household expenses, as disclosed in her divorce filings, are a more pressing matter of public interest. And of course, they had to include in their "news" story their oh-so-informed speculation about what Toews' Christian constituents must think about his marriage ending. 'Cause if anybody knows how Christians think, it's the Globe.

Well, for the benefit of you younger kids: according to MacGuigan’s parliamentary bio and this page at the website of the Federal Court of Canada, MacGuigan’s appointment to the court occurred on the same day as his resignation as MP and Minister of Justice: June 29, 1984.

MacGuigan had run and placed poorly in the Liberal leadership contest that elected John Turner earlier that year, winning just 135 votes.

I don’t recall any cries of conflict of interest at the time, though MacGuigan’s appointment was certainly part of the orgy of patronage appointments made by the exiting Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, appointments that dogged new leader John Turner in the election campaign that began on July 9 and ended on September 4.

MacGuigan served as a judge until his death in January, 1998. He was eulogized in the House of Commons the following month by Liberal minister Herb Gray, Reform MP Randy White (!), NDP MP Bill Blaikie and Bloc MP Louis Plamondon.

I acknowledge that a judicial appointment for Vic Toews -- should one occur -- would raise uncomfortable yet fair questions for Toews and the government but, you know, a little bit of context from major news organizations would be nice. For a change.

Update: Oh, speaking of context . . .

Here’s a lovely story from the Toronto Star’s reliable Richard Brennan, on Bob Rae’s question in the House yesterday about Maxime Bernier’s air fare to Laos for a Francophonie summit:

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has to travel first class to "stand tall" on the world stage, Conservative government House leader Peter Van Loan says.

Van Loan was defending Bernier, who has been dogged by criticism since taking on the portfolio last August, including over his relationship with a Quebec woman who had close ties to biker gang figures.

The latest has to do with his spending $22,573 on return airfare to Laos for a Francophonie conference, when one of his own staff made the same trip for $2,676.

"I wonder if that makes the government House leader blush, just for once," Liberal MP Bob Rae (Toronto Centre) said to Van Loan.

Well, why should Van Loan or anyone else blush? Rae certainly wasn’t blushing in 1992 when he used an OPP helicopter to visit his family cottage. He explained to reporters that he was entitled to his entitlements:

Premier Bob Rae used a government helicopter to fly him to and from his family cottage during the Victoria Day weekend.

"I had not seen my children for about eight days," said Rae, who has three daughters. The Rae family cottage is on an island in Big Rideau Lake, near the town of Portland in eastern Ontario, about 350 kilometres (220 miles) east of Metro.

Rae said he had no apologies to make, since he is eligible to use the OPP helicopter as part of his security package as Premier.
--Toronto Star, May 26, 1992 (you can look at the excerpt for free in the Star archives).

I believe the seasoned Brennan was even a member of the Queen’s Park press gallery then. Funny how he didn’t remember this to put it in today’s story. It certainly would have put Rae’s feigned outrage into – what’s that word? – context.

Happy Victoria Day, everybody.


hunter said...

Oh, good catch on the Rae helicopter! I didn't know he had done that. Too bad the MSM doesn't believe in balanced reporting.

Anonymous said...

What about the National Post article on Toews? The Post suggested he was being considered because his baby and divorce made his a liability as an MP -- in other words, appointing him as a judge was a way to get rid of him. The Globe article was tame by comparison.

Joan Tintor said...

Good point.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good work, Joan. I've added a link to my post about Don Martin's column from yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, but, this is about Harper's hypocracy. When in opposition he ranted about this sort of thing and he promised he would do things differently.

Talk about short memories.

Beside - wouldn't a federal judge have to have a "clean" record? Toews - funding charges, etc.?

Joan Tintor said...

Actually, anonymous at 6:40 a.m. did not have such a good point after all.

Unless I missed a bona fide news story in the Post, the Post "article" is an opinion column by Don Martin, not a news story as the Free Press and Globe ran.