Harper's Nine

Senate picks include a journalist and a former Habs coach

THE MOST IMPORTANT UPDATE OF ALL: Confirmed, finally — the nine new senators:

  • Claude Carignan
  • Jacques Demers
  • Doug Finley
  • Carolyn Stewart-Olsen
  • Don Plett
  • Judith Seidman
  • Linda (Frum) Sokolowski
  • Kelvin Ogilvie
  • Dennis Patterson

Official PMO bios available here.

So, according to Stephen Taylor’s secret inside sources, the latest round of Senate appointments could be announced as early as 1pm today — although that could just be a cruel prank by a puckish PMO that has no intention of breaking with tradition, and will instead keep us hanging and wondering and pestering an increasingly surly Doug Finley with phone calls until sometime next week. What? I’m just saying there’s a reason why that 4:57-p.m-on-the-Friday-before-a-long-weekend timeslot is such a cliché.

This is, alas, one of those waiting games that really doesn’t lend itself terribly well to ITQ’s style of breaking news coverage, what with there being no formal ceremony — it’s not like the lucky nine have to head over to Rideau Hall to be sworn in by the Governor General — but that’s not going to stop her from liveblogging the latest developments in this post, which the rest of y’all can feel free to use as an open thread.

To get you started, a few links to the coverage so far:

CanWest News: Harper poised to make 8 Senate appointments
The Globe and Mail: Harper to appoint close Tory backers to Senate
The Canadian Press: Published reports say Harper ready to fill up to nine Senate vacancies Harper Senate appointments coming: sources
Winnipeg Free Press: He united the right, now he’s in the Senate

Unlike cabinet shuffle speculation — a guilty pleasure in which we haven’t gotten a chance to indulge in far too long, incidentally — everyone seem to be hearing the same three names from their respective sources: Doug Finley, Don Plett, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen. CanWest’s David Akin — who, ITQ should point out, was first out of the gate with the leaked names — reports that Bob Runciman is likely to get the second Ontario spot — after Finley, of course — and also lists  as defeated Conservative premier Rodney MacDonald as the favourite for the Nova Scotia seat, and Conservative organizer Judith Seidman for one of the two Quebec slots.

That’s all for now, but be sure to check back for updates throughout the day.

12:01 PM

Okay, now ITQ is nonplussed — via twitter, Taylor now says that the announcement could come as early as, well, now-ish, since the PM has an event in Quebec. Which sort of makes her go “Huh?” since prime ministers very rarely announce senate appointments at an event, especially before a media availability, but whatever. Also, he’s up against Manitoba premier Gary Doer possibly announcing his resignation, and wow, this day is totally getting interesting, isn’t it?

Oh, and apparently, former NHL coach Jacques Demers will be one of the two Quebec senators.

Oh, also, via Susan Delacourt, we find out that CBC is reporting that the New Kory Teneycke will be … drum roll .. John Williamson, formerly of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and occasional National Post columnist, who has had some less than flattering things to say about the Conservatives’ recent stimulus splurgeathon, which could make for some awkward silences at morning tactics. On the plus side, if it’s true, he won’t be writing any more of them, at least. Not for publication, anyway.

Also, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t already hate ITQ, so that’s always nice, although really, can we spare a thought for poor Jason Lietaer? How often is he going to be That Guy — the one named by the Globe as the odds on favourite to take over, only to wind up not getting the job after all? Then again, for all ITQ knows, he may not even want it.

Yeah, yeah. Further bulletins as events warrant.

12:14 PM

Yup, Gary Doer is stepping down — and no, he’s not going to the Senate, he says. ITQ is sure that Don Plett is relieved to hear that, what with there being only one Manitoba seat currently up for grabs.

12:39 PM

Susan Delacourt worries that John Williamson may have to abandon all his friends in the fourth estate once he steps over the threshold at Langevin. ITQ hopes that’s not true — but, like Susan, wishes him the very best.

Meanwhile, on the Senate speculation front, Colleague Wherry explores the unpleasant matter of the bill.

12:51 PM

Okay, so it looks like the PM is not going to announce his new senate picks at his Quebec event, although he will, as it turns out, defend his right to do so, and gripe about those nasty Liberals holding up his legislation.

12:57 PM

Huh – CTV is now reporting that the Senate announcement will come out by midday Friday. That’s — a really, really long time from now, you guys. ITQ may have to put this liveblog on hiatus if it doesn’t show up in the next few hours.

1:01 PM

From Colleague Madan, via tweet:Tory MPP Bob Runciman is in his Brockville-area riding today; his staff say they are unaware of possible Senate job.

1:24 PM

Oh, fine, PMO Press Office. I’ll grudgingly admit it is at least a little bit funny to put out totally non-Senate-related press releases just as we’re all huddled over our berries waiting for the Big One to arrive. Sadistic, but funny.

1:31 PM

I know it’s not their intention, but the Liberal rapid response team is actually sort of endearing Jacques Demers to me with clips like this one:

The former coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Jacques Demers, said he’s concerned by the Harper government’s cutbacks to literacy programs.  Jacques Demers, who has level 2 literacy, explained his concern as part of a speech to participants in a forum on literacy yesterday in Grande-Digue. “When I learned that they had cut funds to support literacy, I was very disappointed,” Mr. Demers said. (L’Acadie Nouvelle, Sept 16, 2008)

1:36 PM
You know, if it turns out that CTV News is right, and we’re not going to get a Senate appointment until tomorrow, it will leave ITQ once again officially and completely boggled by PMO communications tactics. I mean, why leak the names on Wednesday night and go through two days of speculation in the press and the inevitable condemnation courtesy of the usual suspects, and then announce it just in time for frothy Saturday editorials about what an outrage it is? It just doesn’t seem to make, well, sense.

Then again, maybe CTV News is wrong.

1:43 PM

Gosh, look at the time.

1:49 PM

OH! Maybe Taylor’s source meant 1:30 p.m. Alberta time! That would be — what, 3:30 p.m. here in Ontario? I’m so bad with time zones, y’all.

1:56 PM

Another theory, suggested by a reader via email: The announcement was, indeed, supposed to come out today, but there was a last-minute glitch with one of the appointees — hopefully not Jacques Demers, who has apparently already confirmed that he’ll be heading to the Red Chamber in a statement posted the website of his soon to be former appointment, which would be just embarrassing for all concerned if it didn’t go through — which pushed the whole thing off until Friday. Sound plausible?

2:05 PM

Yowza – David Akin is twittering the highlights of the much anticipated and then totally forgotten about PMO shuffle:

First, the biggest news, as far as ITQ can see: Jenni Byrne heads to the party as director of political operations, with Jasmine Igneski to fill her shoes as head of Issues Management. Also of note: Darrell Reid takes over Regional Affairs — which used to be a subsidiary of Issues Management, so I guess they’re splitting it up — and Andrew Wallace will become Director of Stakeholder Management, replacing Mark Cameron, who leaves PMO for parts as yet unknown. Oh, and Dimitri Soudas becomes chief spokesperson, and John Williamson will play more of a background role.

Forget the Senate. This is huge.

2:28 PM

Alright, for anyone interested in chattering about the PMO shuffle, there’s a fresh post with a pristine thread. The rest of us can continue the increasingly futile-seeming vigil right here. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

2:39 PM

Oh, jeepers. If CTV is right, the Senate appointments will come out right in the middle of the emergency health committee meeting on H1N1.

3:11 PM

No, we still don’t know what’s going on. On the plus side, this would be so much worse on television. If nothing breaks in the next — oh, let’s say twenty minutes or so — ITQ is going to hand over liveblogging duty to Colleague Gohier, so she can do something crazy like, I don’t know, eat lunch. Don’t worry, you’ll be in good hands, and she won’t dawdle.

3:19 PM

I swear, it’s like they WAITED for me to almost walk out the door, and then bam — the list drops. Well, for some people, that is — ITQ hasn’t gotten her copy yet, but here, courtesy of David Akin, are the lucky nine:

Claude Carignan, Jacques Demers, Doug Finley, Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, Don Plett, Judith Siedman, Linda (Frum) Sokolowski, Kelvin Ogilvie, Dennis Patterson

(Note: I’ve added an update to the top of this post too.)

Huh. So — no Bob Runciman, no Brooke Taylor or Rodney MacDonald. Interesting.

And with that, ITQ is going to sneak away briefly, since she’s been staring at this screen for far too long. Don’t worry, she’ll be back.

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