Who has the most ministers? Harper or Mulroney?

With the elevation Monday of MP Erin O’Toole into Stephen Harper’s cabinet, where O’Toole will serve as the minister for veterans affairs, the size of Harper’s current ministry is now at 40 members. A “ministry” is made up of all of those MPs who are, to use the Parliamentary language, styled as Ministers or as Ministers of State. Each of these individuals gets a significant salary boost, a car, a driver, and some extra political staff.

A ministry of 40 is pretty big. Some would say you could cut the size in half and no one would notice. Some complain about such a bloated cabinet. In fact, for a time yesterday, I thought that Harper — the leader of what some have been sold as the “Small-government Government” — had actually set the all-time record for the size of a ministry.

Why did I (and some others) come to that conclusion? Well, we did what we usually do when we need some numbers for historical perspective looked it up at the Parliamentary Web Site — parl.gc.ca — where you can find a page that lists “Size of Ministries”, a page compiled by the smart folks at the Library of Parliament, that goes all the way back to Macdonald.

If you look at that page, you’ll see that both Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin had ministries of 39 individuals. With Harper hitting 40 ministers, it was easy enough to say Harper was now the proud owner of the biggest minister of all time.

Not so fast, a friend e-mailed me.  Continue reading Who has the most ministers? Harper or Mulroney?

"Les premier ministres" meet in Quebec

Le premier Ministre du Canada Stephen Harper et Philippe Couillard, premier ministre du Quebec lors de la soiree du Gala Triomphe, jeudi le 24 Avril 2014 a Quebec.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec’s le premier ministre Philippe Couillard met for the first time today in Quebec City. It was a cordial meeting, a Harper aide said, though, so far as I know the meeting was not on any official itinerary distributed ahead of time to the Parliamentary Press Gallery. (His attendance at the Gala Triomphe was on his public itinerar) The meeting wasn’t necessarily a secret but neither the PMO nor the premier’s office seemed to be making a big deal of it.

Photo journalists were not invited in to take a picture of the two men meeting (though I note, the first Alison Redford and Stephen Harper as Premier of Alberta and Prime Minister, there were photos.) though I fully expect that new racy newsmagazine 24/7 to have the “exclusive” pix any day now. My Sun Media colleagues in Quebec, though, snapped the two men together at an event honoring athletes. (Above)

In the meantime, Harper’s office has helpfully distributed this “read-out” of the meeting between the two men:

“Prime Minister Harper indicated that the federal government intends to work closely with the government of Quebec to advance common priorities related to the economy and job creation. They discussed a series of issues, including infrastructure and energy development, and also identified avenues for collaboration in other priority sectors, namely Premier Couillard’s “maritime strategy”.

The two leaders highlighted the importance of Quebec playing a leadership role within the federation.”

Colleague Charles LeCavalier has the write-up on the meeting for our French language papers.

I say: Good luck, Premier,  and good luck, prime minister, as you both work to make a more prosperous Québec “nation within a united Canada.”



North Korea stares at Abbott and Harper (and me)

Tony Abbott at the DMZ
Australian PM Tony Abbott April 9, 2014 at the DMZ between South and North Korea.
PMHarper at the DMZ
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the DMZ in December, 2009. (PMO Handout)
David Akin at the DMZ
Your correspondent at the DMZ, Dec. 2009. The blue hut that Abbott and Harper were photographed in is over my left shoulder. And that tall building in the background? That, folks, is North Korea.


Last week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. Here’s The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Philip Coorey reporting on Abbott’s visit: Continue reading North Korea stares at Abbott and Harper (and me)

Harper: "Could well see Russia exit the G8 entirely"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Toronto Monday where he spoke at  mining conference. Before getting into issues of natural resources, though, Harper spoke about the situation in the Ukraine. The video, above, was photographed and distributed by employees of the prime minister. The PMO also produced the transcript below: Continue reading Harper: "Could well see Russia exit the G8 entirely"

VIDEO: Netanyahu welcomes Harper to Israel

This video was shot by and distributed by the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In it, you’ll see the full text of Netanyahu’s effusive praise for Harper — his speech is about 3 minutes — and Harper’s very brief remarks, including an anecdote about the absence of his kids on this trip. Continue reading VIDEO: Netanyahu welcomes Harper to Israel

Harper's monster-sized delegation: 21 rabbis and a priest

COLOGNE, Germany – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to arrive for his first-ever visit to Israel Sunday afternoon leading a monster-sized delegation that includes 21 rabbis.

Harper left Ottawa Saturday night with his red, white, and blue Royal Canadian Air Force jet crammed with what is easily the largest delegation he has ever had for an overseas trip.

The plane landed here to refuel before continuing on to Tel Aviv. Continue reading Harper's monster-sized delegation: 21 rabbis and a priest

Final push in Brandon-Souris with letters to voters and front page political ads

False Front of Brandon SUn

In the federal riding of Brandon-Souris — and in three other federal ridings — voters will elect a new MP Monday. Brandon-Souris holds the promise of a big upset. It’s been Conservative or Progressive Conservative for pretty much forever with one exception. In the Kim Campbell wipeout election of 1993, the Progressive Conservative candidate at the time, Larry Maguire, lost to the Liberals. Well guess what? Maguire’s name is on the ballot again, this time as the Conservative candidate, and he could lose what should have been a sure thing to Liberal Rolf Dinsdale. Continue reading Final push in Brandon-Souris with letters to voters and front page political ads

Why "Harper the Trotskyite" does not believe Putin will change on Syria

Harper meets Putin
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2012 APEC Summit in October, 2012. (DAVID AKIN/QMI Agency)

G8 Leaders convene in Northern Ireland Monday. France, the United Kingdom, and the United States will be leading the charge to take some action on Syria where, those three countries have concluded, dictator Bashar al-Assad has been using chemical weapons to gas his own people. Canada agrees with its allies on that issue though Canada does not believe it is time to arm Assad’s opponents.  Continue reading Why "Harper the Trotskyite" does not believe Putin will change on Syria

PMO's favourite hockey coach: Darryl Sutter

The Globe and Mail today reports:

The President of the United States is about to get an earful on the Keystone XL pipeline from an unexpected source: the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

Darryl Sutter – who is also the owner of a 3,000-acre ranch near Viking, Alta. – plans to weigh in on the pipeline debate when Barack Obama plays host to the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Tuesday.

This has made the folks in the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office very happy, so much so that the following talking points have just been issued by the PMO to the Conservative caucus: Continue reading PMO's favourite hockey coach: Darryl Sutter