Harper rids himself of 2014 problems
We all have our little rituals on our first day back in the office in a new year.
Some of us delete old emails. Others might start filling in a new calendar.
Still others dump their inept veterans affairs ministers and meet with the irritating premier of the country’s largest province.
Clearing off your election year to-do list if you’re Prime Minister Stephen Harper means, suddenly, dealing with the daily toothache that was Julian Fantino in veterans affairs and bickering with the aggressive Kathleen Wynne were so last year.
These were two things Harper had to do, but the governing Harper didn’t always do what others felt he must.
The campaigning Harper is a different man.
Fantino had lost the confidence of veterans and created nothing but havoc in a portfolio which Conservatives should hold near and dear. There are few optics more damaging for a government than sending our young men and women off to war then ignoring them, shortchanging them and, in Fantino’s case, also lecturing them upon their return.
But where once he might have hunkered down, election year Harper demoted his man Fantino in broad daylight on a working day, ignoring the urge to act during the Christmas break when holiday festivities and official inertia provide cover of darkness.
He didn’t exactly invite inquiring media eyes into Rideau Hall, but he did (almost) exactly what the opposition parties had urged him to do, he didn’t wait until nobody was watching Fantino and, even more remarkably, he replaced him with the man touted by so many of the pundits Harper’s office likes to ignore.
Erin O’Toole, an air force veteran and MP for Durham, is the communicator Fantino is not and appears to have the empathy for our veterans that Fantino lacked.
Fantino remains in cabinet, moved back into the associate defence minister’s post he previously held, but he is getting harder to hide no matter his value as an electoral asset and fundraiser in the 905 belt so crucial in this year’s vote. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)