Tuesday, February 03, 2004

LAPIERRE: SHIFTING LOYALTIES

Jean Lapierre is set to return to federal politics, joining Pual Martin and the Liberal Party and taking Martin Cauchon's seat. Lapierre will likely get a senior cabinet position and will bolster the Liberal profile in Quebec.

Cauchon called Lapierre, a high-profile media commentator, this weekend to offer him his safe riding of Outremont.

Lapierre was first elected to the Commons as a Liberal in 1979 at the age of 23. In 1990 he supported Paul Matin's leadership bid and left the party the day Jean Chretien became leader. Shortly afterwards he helped Lucien Bouchard found the Bloc Quebecois.

Paul Wells who occasionally reads this blog thinks that Lapierre's return is a big story. In November, when the rumours that Martin was courting Lapierre first surfaced, Wells solicited readers' opinions. The general response was that there should be no place in a federal cabinet for Lapierre, a former separatist. My response was that, while I'm not keen on inviting separtists back to the Liberals, a history of support for separatism should not automatically exclude someone from coming back to the fold. There has to be some room for reconciliation.

But is Lapierre the man?

It seems to me that with Martin as the new PM and needing to shore up support in Quebec, Lapierre saw an opportunity to get back into politics. Looking at the broad history, it appears that Lapierre's loyalty to Martin is strongest. His loyalty to the Liberal Party and the country is questionable. Above all he seems opportunistic.

Added to this, there are at least two very capable, obviously federalist Quebec MPs who are more deserving of being in cabinet than Lapierre. They are Stephane Dion and Cauchon. Of course they don't meet the Martin loyalty test.

Posted by Matthew @ 2:17 PM