Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Bernier’s girlfriends do matter

It may be easy to dismiss these stories out of hand and avoid being seen as gossipy busy-bodies, but no matter how amusing a line Steve Harper’s speech-writers wrote for him, the fact is Maxime Bernier’s ex-girlfriend having ties to organized crime is relevant. And it must be hard for the Conservatives to pretend its not because it comes down to an issue they claim to be all about: national security.

Bernier is Minister of Foreign Affairs. As such, he has access to a great deal of confidential information concerning our national security, and makes critical decisions every day. He also holds a high-level security clearance. Associating with people that have links to organized crime opens him to potential compromise, which may well be why the RCMP questioned him recently about a photo of him with a Montreal man facing criminal charges.

Even if I was willing to dismiss the girlfriend thing, and I think it mainly shows bad judgment more than anything else, in rushing to Bernier’s defence Stockwell Day goes too far:

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day dismissed opposition complaints yesterday, saying the government has no business doing security checks on a cabinet ministers' families or partners.

While cabinet ministers and even members of Parliament must file conflict-of-interest reports that include the financial holdings of their spouses, Mr. Day said there is no reason to perform security checks on family members or partners.

Given some of the other initiatives Day and The Right have advocated in the name of “national security” his supposed squeamishness here is amusing. This is usually where he’d say ‘if you have nothing to hide…” But seriously, to argue no security checks should be done on the spouses of cabinet ministers? That’s a ridiculous argument, especially from Day.

Why does it matter? Well, like anyone else do ministers not confide in their partners about their jobs? Could that not involve confidential information? Do they not bring papers home, that the spouse would have access to? I think a background check is entirely relevant, given the circumstances. Then there’s the possibility of compromise and blackmail.

Because someone trying to get close to such a person to gain information is not outside the realm of possibility. Indeed, while I think there’s probably nothing to the Julie Couillard thing, the Gerda Munsinger affair puts lie to Day’s sweeping assertion we shouldn’t care who cabinet ministers date:

Munsinger was at the centre of a spy sex scandal that rocked Ottawa in the 1960s. The East German-born Soviet spy came to Montreal in the 1950s and ended up being involved with government officials in the John Diefenbaker government, including the associate minister of national defence, Pierre Sévigny.

She was deported in 1961 and the matter was quietly dealt with internally. But in 1966, a Liberal minister brought it up in the House of Commons. A media frenzy ensued and Munsinger was tracked down in Munich and confirmed the story.

All we’re talking about here is ensuring that someone who, by virtue of their relationship with a cabinet minister, gains potential access to confidential information, is not a security risk. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. And it certainly has nothing to do with gossip.

On Bernier though, I'll agree with those that say there are other, better reasons to go after him: he's a really crappy minister.

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A Eliz. said...

If she went all over with Bernier, including meetings, telling him what to do..what all does she know? I do not care who she is. it is what he let her do!!!

Robert McClelland said...

You might as well drop it, the libtards have once again knifed you in the back.

Johnathon said...

Another blogger linked to your site,check it out.

Jeff said...

I feel dumber for having read that link, thank-you.

The Rat said...

I guess all the women PET diddled were pure as virgin snow until they met the great man and lost control of their panties? You Libs sure don't notice the glass house you are living in, do you? Me, I prefer curtains and a little privacy.

ch said...

This story appears to have revealed that:

(1) cabinet ministers go through less of a security check than their assistants or others working under them


(2) even if Julie Couillard had been actively associated with organized crime during the period Bernier was serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs and listing her as his spouse for travel and other purposes, this would not have been caught by any security check and would have needed to be brought out by the media, opposition or Bernier himself.

Seems like Canada relies a lot on the good judgement of its cabinet ministers and perhaps not all of them are worthy of this.

player_hater said...

She can't even get a security clearance to be a constituency assistant. I am quite sure the opportunity presented her to gaze upon top secret documents, and whether or not she did is not the question, why was she so close to them in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Michaelle Jean had links to the Quebec separatists. Does that disquaify her from having any dealings with members of the government?