Connect with us


Marc Garneau leaves politics



(Ottawa) Former foreign affairs minister Marc Garneau is leaving politics.

Mr. Garneau, who was also Minister of Transport for five years in the Trudeau government before taking the helm of Canadian diplomacy in January 2021, met with the Prime Minister on Monday evening to inform him of his intentions. He will officially step down as Member of Parliament for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce-Westmount today after delivering a farewell speech in the House of Commons.

Mr. Garneau, who is in the process of writing his autobiography and who is 74 years old, also announced his departure verbally to his Liberal colleagues during the caucus meeting on Wednesday morning.

To everyone’s surprise, Mr. Garneau was ousted from the cabinet by Justin Trudeau after the September 2021 federal election. The Prime Minister then set his sights on Minister Mélanie Joly to lead Foreign Affairs. Justin Trudeau tried to convince Mr. Garneau to accept the post of Canadian ambassador to Paris. But he refused the offer.

In a recent interview with The Press, Mr. Garneau indicated that he would not have sought the votes in the last ballot if the prime minister had informed him that he would no longer be a member of the cabinet. Moreover, he had already agreed with his family that the 2019 campaign would be the last and that he would return to his land at the end of this mandate.

But Mr. Garneau clarified that he reconsidered his decision after obtaining the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs in January 2021. He explained that he wanted to ensure stability for this ministry which had known four ministers in six years, while the turbulence multiplied on the international scene.

“I made the decision with my family to retire from politics. In fact, I had told my family after the 2019 election that this would be my last campaign. I had then been reconfirmed in my functions as Minister of Transport. I would have completed my term. But there was a surprise. The Prime Minister asked me to be Minister of Foreign Affairs. And just seven months later, there was another election,” explained Mr. Garneau during the interview that took place at his office on Parliament Hill.

“I said to myself that I was the fourth foreign minister in five and a half years. The reason I decided to seek another term was because I had just started my new responsibilities and there were all kinds of things I wanted to do. I wanted to ensure some stability in Foreign Affairs”.

When he made a few calls after his appointment to Foreign Affairs, several of his foreign counterparts told him: “We hope you will be in the post longer than your predecessor!” »

He went on to say that if the Prime Minister had told him that he would no longer be the head of Canadian diplomacy, “almost certainly I would have decided not to run again. It was something I loved to do and I had barely started work”.

Before bowing out, Mr. Garneau also wanted to table the report of the parliamentary committee on medical assistance in dying, which he chaired for the past nine months. The committee tabled its report last month. “I really enjoyed chairing this committee, even if the subject was difficult. Now is the time for me to go,” he explained.

In an interview, Mr. Garneau said he regretted not having had the chance to continue the work of repatriating Afghan refugees, among other things. Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban on the day the election was called in August 2021, causing chaos when several countries attempted to evacuate thousands of Afghans in a hurry. “During the last elections, I spent 10% of my time campaigning and 90% dealing with foreign affairs files. »

First elected to the House of Commons in 2008 after a distinguished career as an astronaut, Mr. Garneau spent the first seven years on the opposition benches. Following the Liberals’ victory in the 2015 election, he was named Minister of Transport – a position he held for six years, the third longest term as Minister in the country’s history.

“I really liked politics. It was my third career after my years in the navy and then as an astronaut. All my experience in politics – whether in opposition, as a minister or as chairman of a parliamentary committee – I have found this very satisfying”.

At Transport, Mr. Garneau pointed out that he has been called upon to look into many regulations that come under this ministry. But he also had to address issues that affect people very closely. He gave as an example the case of the construction of a Lac-Mégantic bypass following the train tragedy that occurred in July 2013 which claimed the lives of 47 people.

He also mentioned the tragic end of Ukraine International Airlines flight PS7512, which was to operate between Tehran and Kyiv. The plane was shot down by the Iranian armed forces in January 2020. The 176 passengers on board were mostly Canadians and Iranians and they all perished.

“I had several conversations with the relatives of the victims. These people were on the verge of despair. It’s a very human aspect that marked me a lot. »

Mr. Garneau announced his resignation at a time when the debate on Bill C-13 on official languages ​​is raging. Mr. Garneau indicated that he opposes this bill in its current form on the grounds that the rights of the English-speaking minority in Quebec would not be adequately protected because of certain amendments that were adopted during the study in committee.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *