The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)
May 12, 2004 Wednesday Final Edition
‘Special’ Liberal foreign policy advisers ridiculed: Two MPs who quit
to make way for Martin candidates get post-election advisory jobs
by Peter O’Neil
OTTAWA — Two Liberal MPs who quit politics to make way for Prime
Minister Paul Martin’s favoured candidates were ridiculed Tuesday for
accepting posts as “special” foreign policy advisers to the prime
B.C. Liberal MP Sophia Leung and Ontario Liberal Sarkis Assadourian
gave up their $140,000-a-year jobs in Parliament to provide
post-election advice to Martin, who is known for his expertise in
world affairs and has access to countless policy and trade experts in
the federal bureaucracy.
Neither of the MPs, nor Martin’s office, would say whether the MPs
would draw salaries and have office and travel budgets in the event
Martin is prime minister after the next election.
“It’s just a pork-barreling way of filling their pockets with money,
and making them feel important, because they’re giving up their jobs
as MPs,” said Conservative House leader John Reynolds. “It’s not
doing one iota of good for Canadians.”
Reynolds (West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast) said Martin is insulting the
many policy and trade experts in Canada and abroad who work at the
departments of foreign affairs and international trade, which
together have budgets totalling $1.8 billion.
The government would provide no information on remuneration for the
“For the time being, they remain MPs and are therefore unpaid in
their advisory roles,” said Melanie Gruer, a Martin aide.
“What happens after a possible election will be decided at that
The MPs bluntly rejected the pork-barreling claim.
“No, it’s not patronage,” said Leung, who will sacrifice her
Vancouver-Kingsway seat for Martin’s friend, B.C. businessman David
Emerson, to be Martin’s special adviser on international trade and
“I have the background. I’ve been on the finance committee. And I’m
very interested, and I know so many people, in the business sector,
especially Asia-Pacific,” said Leung, 69, who was born in China.
“The prime minister feels I can really make a contribution.”
Assadourian, 56, the only MP of Armenian descent, will be special
adviser on near eastern and south Caucasus affairs. That covers the
countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
The MP gave up his Brampton-Springdale seat to Ruby Dhalla, a Toronto
chiropractor who worked on Martin’s leadership campaign.
Assadourian refused numerous opportunities to speak to The Vancouver
Sun Monday and Tuesday about his new job, but an aide said the MP is
“In terms of of why he has the position? Of course it is because of
his background and knowledge [and his] language capabilities,” said
Daniel Kennedy, an aide to Assadourian, pointing out that the MP
speaks Armenian, Arabic, and Turkish.
GRAPHIC: Color Photo: CanWest News Services; …Ontario MP Sarkis
Assadourian quit their $140,000-a-year jobs to make way for Prime
Minister Paul Martin’s favoured candidates and provide post-election
advice for the prime minister.; Color Photo: CanWest News Services;
B.C. MP Sophia Leung and …
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress