The Impressive Mr. Day


I criticize Stephen Harper and some of his ministers like Baird over their poor political attitude in the House of Commons, but there is one member of the Conservative cabinet that is conspicuous by his absence, and to me it’s a surprising exclusion: Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

We all had our fun with Stockwell Day when he was the leader of the Canadian Alliance. His lackluster performance sparked a full-scale caucus revolt that eventually led to Stephen Harper’s elevation to the Leader of the Opposition. Basically, after being touted as the Great Hope of the unite the right movement, Day disappointed. He proved ineffective against the campaign tactics of Jean Chretien, and quickly fostered a sense that his slick style masked serious deficiencies. It was also noted that, as Alberta’s Finance Minister, Stockwell Day was something of a bulldog himself.

However, since taking on the role of Public Safety Minister, Stockwell Day has done a very good job. Now, I don’t check Hansard, so I don’t know every detail about his behaviour in parliament, but I’ve only ever heard of him when controversy arises when he does his job well, like the time he earned the rebuke of the American ambassador for tenaciously pursuing Maher Arar’s case against his placement on the American no-fly list. Yes, he did tenatiously pursue Arar when he was still a terrorist suspect, but his turnaround since Arar’s exoneration has been much appreciated. And yes, there are still concerns from civil libertarians about privacy issues (which we all should keep a careful watch on, regardless of who runs this ministry), but Day has usually responded to criticism professionally, with none of the rancour that, say, John Baird responds to questions in parliament.

Case in point: Day’s response to Ontario’s call for a handgun ban. Day stood up and spoke plainly, saying that he did not believe that such a ban would work. Now, I tend to favour McGuinty’s position here more than Day’s, but I can’t fault the clarity and ease of Day’s response. Further, he went on to praise the work of the City of Toronto in enacting other measures which, despite the recent spat of gun violence, he says has helped reduce the problem.

Can you imagine any other Albertan politician taking time out to praise the efforts of Toronto City Council and Toronto’s police for fighting back against crime?

Just this morning, Day was the government’s point man in its response to concerns over air travellers carrying infectious diseases. His calm delivery goes some way to put people at ease.

So, Stockwell Day has impressed me, frankly. He may not be cut out to be a political leader, but he is proving himself to be an effective minister in this government, in my opinion.

In Ottawa

I managed to arrive all right after seven hours on the road. I took an hour off to eat dinner in Kingston, and that probably made all the difference. I’m also glad to say that I managed to avoid the Mississauga and Toronto section of Highway 401. Taking the 407 will probably cost me around $15, but after yesterday afternoon’s bevy of accidents, it was worth every penny.

It looks like I brought some rain with me, but I hope I brought some good luck as well. Go Senators! Though I might be a Toronto-boy, Ottawa still deserves to win, and any hockey team owned by Disney, playing in southern California and named The Mighty Ducks has to be booed and booed heartily.

See you at the launch!

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