Ottawa: PM peeved at Pettigrew pronouncement

The Globe and Mail, Canada
May 1 2004

PM peeved at Pettigrew pronouncement

The Prime Minister blows a gasket

It was a furious Paul Martin at this week’s caucus meeting, according
to Liberal sources. His face was red; he was gesticulating angrily,
and some say he was shouting. All this because of remarks by Health
Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who had suggested to a Commons committee
that the government was prepared to allow the provinces to
“experiment” with private health-care delivery.

Mr. Martin told his caucus that he had watched his father, Paul Sr.,
work hard to bring in medicare and wasn’t prepared to stand by to
watch it all unravel, according to a source. He told his MPs that Mr.
Pettigrew was going to march out of the caucus and correct the
impression he had left about the publicly funded system. Following
orders, Mr. Pettigrew did exactly that. He marched out of caucus and
read his clarification from a (PMO?) prepared text.

Brian Mulroney

to be a grandfather

Last month the former Progressive Conservative prime minister, Brian
Mulroney, became a senior citizen. In October he becomes a
grandfather. And he and his wife, Mila, couldn’t be more excited.

Their daughter Caroline Mulroney, 29, who married Andrew Lapham in
September, 2000, is expecting a baby in October. This will be the
first grandchild for the Mulroneys. Meanwhile, the entire Mulroney
clan is off to Antigonish, N.S., where Mrs. Mulroney is to receive an
honorary doctorate from St. Francis Xavier University Monday in
recognition of her charity and volunteer work, especially for cystic

Of cabinet solidarity

and genocide

Behind the closed doors of the cabinet room last week, Prime Minister
Martin singled out Revenue Minister Stan Keyes as a shining example of
cabinet solidarity after he voted against a private member’s motion to
recognizes as genocide the mass killing of Armenians during the First
World War.

There were reports after the controversial vote that Mr. Keyes was
cursing the fact that some of his colleagues had missed the vote while
he was forced to vote against the motion, a gesture that was not
without political cost for him. This was acknowledged by Mr. Martin,
who was angry with some of his cabinet ministers for abstaining or for
ducking the vote by leaving the House without permission. The Liberal
back bench voted with the opposition, and the motion passed.

Meanwhile, the rule, according to a senior Liberal, is that cabinet
ministers must seek permission in advance to miss the vote. Mr. Keyes,
who had sought that permission, was already in the chamber when the
vote began and decided not to leave because, as he told someone,
“[I’d] feel like a heel walking out.”

Hot and not

Not: The Prime Minister’s briefers who neglected to inform him what
the gift he’d received from President George Bush.

Foreign leaders always exchange gifts on visits. After a prompting by
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham, Mr. Martin told reporters he
received a “pen.”

The Martins gave the President a riding vest and Margaret MacMillan’s
celebrated book, Paris 1919.

Hot: Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison for trying to sell
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on a summer vacation
in his home province. Milling around the White House Rose Garden
yesterday, Mr. Brison did a hard sell on the breathtaking ocean views
of Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail. Shameless.

Not: The White House. The U.S. President says the White House is nice
but his ranch is better. And he says this in front of Paul and Sheila
Martin. Was that an invite to the Crawford, Tex., enclave? Jean
Chrétien was never invited to the ranch.

Hot: Dennis Mills, the editor.

Not: Dennis Mills, the MP. NDP Leader Jack Layton thanks Dennis Mills
in the preface of his newly released book. Why? Dennis Mills and
Mr. Layton are already in a pitched battle for the riding of

Coincidentally, however, Mr. Layton’s editor is also named Dennis
Mills. He clears up the confusion in his book, writing it’s the
editor, not the MP.

Hot: Conservative MP Brian Pallister is inducted into the Manitoba
Softball Hall of Fame today.

He’s a pitcher of some renown in the province. “There are a lot of
similarities between softball and politics,” he writes. “The bad: the
cutoffs, the put outs, the heckling . . . the clash of egos. The good:
The sacrifice . . . and as a pitcher, something I always appreciated
. . . when someone is caught stealing.”