Julian Fantino’s unhappy new year

Tease the day: 2013 has so far only reined criticism on the international cooperation minister

CP/Adrian Wyld

If Stephen Harper’s cabinet had a support group for bruised ministers, its membership during just the last session of Parliament would have grown quite a bit. Vic Toews, the public safety minister, struggled through his internet surveillance bill last spring. Steven Blaney, the veterans affairs minister, struggled with funding for a veterans’ burial fund, among other issues, just as Remembrance Day approached. Peter MacKay, the defence minister, struggled through December’s F-35 roller coaster, keeping his job but handing off his department’s largest procurement to colleague Rona Ambrose. Now, it’s Julian Fantino’s turn in the spotlight.

This morning, Postmedia’s Michael Den Tandt suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper could find the minister of international cooperation “a job that requires Julian Fantino to say and do nothing at all, ever.” 2013’s not been a good year for Fantino, you see, mostly because of things he’s said publicly. He’s so far made controversial remarks about freezing aid to Haiti, comments that found friends with loud-mouth hockey guy Don Cherry and enemies with plenty of government critics. Then, yesterday, it came to light that Fantino’s department had posted partisan letters—one castigating an NDP position, another targeting the Liberals—on the departmental website, a no-no according to federal rules. The letters have been officially removed (they still exist elsewhere on the internet, of course), but that won’t fix Fantino’s problems. All he can hope is another cabinet minister steals the limelight—a wish that recent history suggests will likely come true.

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What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Canada’s meeting with the nations involved in the military intervention in Mali. The National Post fronts Quebec’s proposal to legalize assisted suicide. The Toronto Star‘s top national story reports on the emerging—and controversial—expenses of former ORNGE executive Chris Mazza. The Ottawa Citizen leads with partisan letters apparently posted in error to the Canadian International Development Agency’s website. iPolitics fronts mounting frustration with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. leads with U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to unveil gun control legislation today. National Newswatch showcases a CBC News story with NDP leader Thomas Mulcair blasting Fantino for posting partisan letters online.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Private security. There are about twice as many private security guards as police officers in Canada, a statistic that has some calling for more oversight of the security industry. 2. Whistle-blower. A lawyer at the Department of Justice who challenged federal legislation crafted by his department was suspended, a move criticized by a judge.
3. Economics of policing. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is gathering law enforcement officials in Ottawa for two days of talks about the rising cost of policing in Canada. 4. Astronaut. Steve MacLean, one of Canada’s original astronauts and the head of the Canadian Space Agency, is stepping down to work with former RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.

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