Monday, May 26, 2008

Bernier Bows Out (And It's The Last We'll Ever Hear Of Him)

"Let me be clear: this is not to do with the minister's private life. What matters here is that rules respecting government classified documents were broken. Obviously it was not done on purpose - but it was clearly done and it has to be treated appropriately."
-- Stephen Harper

Maxime Bernier has announced his resignation from Harper's cabinet. His faux pas? It's being described as a "security breach" in which he "left documents in an unsecure location."

I do not take government security or accountability lightly. It's vitally important to the integrity and efficiency of our system. And yet I must confess that my gut reaction upon hearing of the resignation was skepticism. It all seemed a little too convenient given the deluge of negative attention Bernier's been drawing lately. But, as vague as initial reports of the security breach were, it has become absolutely clear that he left sensitive government documents at his ex-girlfriend Julie Couillard's place (who, incidentally, has ties to the Hell's Angels) which is simply careless and unacceptable, not to mention a political mess for the Tories.

Thanks to Stephen Taylor for posting Bernier's letter of resignation:

Prime Minister,

This is to inform you that I am resigning my post as Minister of Foreign Affairs, effective immediately.

I informed you late this afternoon that last night I became aware that I had left behind classified government documents at a private residence.

Prime Minister, the security breach that occurred was my fault and my fault alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.

I have asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to conduct a thorough review of the situation.

Thank you for the trust you have shown in me. I will do everything I can to serve the government well in my capacity as Member of Parliament.

Yours truly,

Maxime Bernier

Bernier has been a lightning rod for criticism since April when he publicly suggested that the government of Kandahar should be removed. Harper maintains the resignation has nothing to do with Bernier's personal relationship with Julie Couillard but, inasmuch as I'm sure that's true, he must be a little relieved to bury Bernier and his scandals in the backbenches.

This will be the death knell for Bernier's political career. He was once identified as a rising star in the party but his uncomfortable time spent in the media spotlight has been highly damaging to his public character. After the obligatory howling from Jack Layton and company peters out, Bernier will quietly fade into obscurity. Which I count as a shame, although necessary under the circumstances.

Who will replace Bernier at the Foreign Affairs post? Jason Kenney? Eh, why not?

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