There were two notable departures today.
The first was Romeo LeBlanc, the 25th Governor General of Canada – the first Acadian to hold the post, a former Trudeau-era Liberal cabinet minister and later Senator. LeBlanc was famous for being down-to-earth, and was unfazed by the trappings, pomp and ceremony of his many positions. Thanks to him, Rideau Hall was opened to the public – and those of you who have not taken the time to tour the grounds or Rideau Hall itself, I would highly recommend it.
LeBlanc’s son Dominic now sits in the House of Commons, representing his father’s old riding for the Liberals, and he currently serves as Justice Critic. LeBlanc was recently the third challenger in the abortive leadership race last December, and he was also the first to pull out and support Ignatieff when he decided the party couldn’t afford another lengthy and divisive leadership campaign.
Flags around Ottawa will be flying at half-mast until Romeo LeBlanc’s state funeral on July 3rd.
Also departing the Hill is gay Bloc MP Réal Ménard, who will be resigning to run for city council in Montréal. Ménard, who was the second out MP in Canadian history, has been with the Bloc since they first came to Ottawa in 1993. I can also say that he almost always made time for me as a reporter, and he was always pleasant and willing to speak to issues – even if we had a bit of a language barrier.
Elsewhere, Mario Silva has an essay on The Mark about the importance of Toronto Pride internationally, as it not only showcases Canada’s human rights accomplishments, but it also recognises those around the world who are struggling for equality for queers in their own country. This year’s international grand marshal is Victor Juliet Mukasa, chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Silva, whose work on the Subcommittee for International Human Rights often deals with the situation of queers abroad, praises Victor for her work in fighting the prejudices our community faces abroad.
Also, the Toronto Star’s “Sham-ocracy” series rolls along, with the topic of accountability, centred on the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Sure, the Conservatives were all for having him around until he told the truth about their phoney budget numbers (which, by the way, came from the PMO and not the Department of Finance, as I had people who actually work on it tell me). Now they’ve slashed his budget and are trying to starve him out, while the rest of Parliament just nods along making tut-tut noises but not actually doing much about it. What is especially galling is that his position – which is under the Parliamentary Librarian and is not an independent officer of Parliament – is because of bad legislation, also known as the Federal Accountability Act. During the drafting process, only the Bloc sounded the alarm on this, and did anyone else listen? No. The Conservatives steamrolled ahead, eager to score points on the Liberals, the NDP went along with it because Pat Martin in particular wanted to score points, and the Liberals couldn’t afford to be seen challenging anything because it would have resulted in cries about how they were just trying to cover up their corruption. Ah, democracy.