Since he was elected Prime Minister for the first time in 2006, Stephen Harper has treated his friends very well. The day his minority government was sworn in, he immediately named Michael Fortier to his Cabinet as Minister of Public Works and the representative for the Montreal region.
Fortier had run for the Conservatives in 2000 and 2003, but was not a candidate in the 2006 election. Rather, he was the co-chair of the Tory campaign. Then the new Prime Minister named him to the Senate. As a senator, he could not answer questions about his portfolio in the House of Commons.
Harper said Fortier had been named to the Senate on the condition that he run in the next election — which he did, and promptly lost.
Since then, Harper has named many people who work closely with the Conservative Party to the Senate — a body he had previously declared he would reform. Those appointments include the man he trusts to run his campaigns and three Tories who had lost their seats in the election just two weeks before. He also recently named his former Foreign Affairs Minister the new ambassador to France. Senators earn upwards of $130,000 and have staff and budgets for travel and expenses.
Now an analysis by Postmedia News service has found that one-quarter of Conservative candidates who were defeated in the 2011 federal election have landed jobs on the government payroll, most of these in Quebec, where Harper is consistently trying to win favor. At least one of these appointees has been described as a ‘shadow MP‘ trying to undermine the work of the member actually elected to represent the riding — or at least to appear to have more influence and benefit for the riding than their non-government MP.
They say in Ottawa these days the best position you can have is that of failed Tory candidate.
Yet another example of Stephen Harper doing exactly the things he criticized while in opposition.
Photo Credit: QUOI Media Group