Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 23, 2002
PM accepts MacAulay resignation
Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay, after weeks of withering attacks over his penchant for political cronyism, resigned from cabinet yesterday — even though his boss didn’t want him to go.
Even as he accepted the resignation, Prime Minister Jean Chretien aggressively defended his former minister and set himself on a collision course with his ethics counsellor, Howard Wilson.
Wilson found MacAulay had crossed an ethical line by lobbying an underling, RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, for funding for a Charlottetown college run by the minister’s brother.
MacAulay, in a letter released with his resignation, said Wilson was “dead wrong” and Chretien agreed, making it clear he was prepared to ignore the findings of his ethics counsellor and keep MacAulay on his front bench.
“If Mr. MacAulay had not resigned, I’m telling you, I would have defended him,” Chretien said, after a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall, which elevated P.E.I. backbencher Wayne Easter to the cabinet as solicitor general and political minister for the island.
By accepting MacAulay’s resignation, Chretien has now lost five senior ministers who have quit, been fired, or shuffled off to rewards under clouds in 2002. (CBC)