Senator Salma Ataullahjan is a “new Canadian,” she was born in Pakistan and came to Canada as a young woman. She was a well-known community activist and leader and was appointed to the Senate in 2010. Senator Ataullahjan wants to be Canada’s candidate for president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an organization that promotes co-operation among legislators from the parliaments of 179 countries. Most Canadians have never heard of her. She is a Conservative …
… David McGuinty is a Liberal MP, some Canadians have heard if him, He is the brother of former Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty and his father was a Liberal politician, too. He is also slightly known for some intemperate anti-Alberta remarks he made back in 2012.
The only reason any of this matters is that Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has not returned Senator Ataullahjan’s e-mails or phone calls in which she solicited his support for her candidacy. He finally did so and said he was waiting for all candidates to declare. Robert Fife, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “A source, with knowledge of the behind-the-scenes deliberations, says the government and the Liberal Speakers of the House of Commons and Senate are holding off their support in case veteran Liberal MP David McGuinty decides to seek the job. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the source because they were not permitted to publicly discuss the issue … [and] … Mr. McGuinty, who is the president of the Canadian chapter of the IPU, confirmed in an interview that he has not ruled out running.” Mr Fife also reports that “Ms. Ataullahjan said Mr. McGuinty’s potential candidacy is the “old boys’ club” in play and said this may explain why he refused her requests to call a meeting of the executive committee of the Canadian IPU … [she said] … “It is the old boys’ club and it is worse for me because I am a racialized women who is trying to make a breakthrough. They hope I will just shut up and go away … [adding] … If he wants to run, that is fine, but then we should have a vote at the executive committee to choose the more qualified candidate” …[and] … The Conservative senator says she has the support of 9 of the 12 members of the IPU Canadian executive, including several Liberal MPs.“
Why does it matter?
Quite frankly, it doesn’t. The IPU is a harmless but powerless body ~ but a Canadian has never led it, and unlike, say the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the top posts in the IPU are not “reserved” (by mutual agreement) for an American (World Bank) and a European (IMF).
There are probably many reasons why Mr McGuinty, who has ben an MP for 16 years, was passed over for cabinet posts by both Prime Ministers Paul Martin and Justin Trudeau, but he held some important ‘shadow cabinet’ posts (Environment, Natural Resources and Transport and he was the opposition house leader in 2010) and he is Chair of the important National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. He’s not a flake, he’s a veteran Liberal with a decent record of service, but one who does not fit in a Trudeau cabinet.
Senator Ataullahjan is also an accomplished woman. Either would be good Canadian candidates to head the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The only real issue is: are the Liberals, as Salma Ataullahjan alleges, ignoring her because they are waiting for David McGuinty to decide if he wants the job ~ the inference being that the Trudeau regime will support a white, male Liberal over a racialized woman just because she is a Conservative? My view is that the answer is an unqualified Yes. This is Trudeau’s Canada, full of high-minded slogans but empty of meaningful action. This is pure partisan politics, looking after special interests of Liberals ahead of the national good. What else did anyone expect?