Next minister dragged into Raitt tape controversy: Jim Prentice

OTTAWA — Yet another federal minister has been subjected to a less than flattering assessment from Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, as Conservatives brace for what else might emerge from her audiotaped musings.

OTTAWA — Yet another federal minister has been subjected to a less than flattering assessment from Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, as Conservatives brace for what else might emerge from her audiotaped musings.

The latest subject of Raitt’s off-the-cuff utterances into an inconveniently placed tape recorder: Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

Sources familiar with the five hours of audiotape obtained by a Halifax newspaper say Raitt suggests her colleague is pandering to Alberta’s oil sands.

Two sources say Raitt is heard speaking dismissively about the environment minister, and one says she refers specifically to policy that favours oil companies.

It would be a particularly surprising observation because Raitt is responsible for defending the oil sands, while Prentice is responsible for reducing Canada’s carbon emissions.

That news comes one day after another snippet of tape surfaced in which Raitt questioned the abilities of Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

“This will be the gift that keeps on giving,” was the sarcastic assessment from one government official.

“What else is on these five hours?”

He says the Conservatives are prepared to weather more unwanted headlines from a five-hour audio tape obtained by the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

In the first such story, the newspaper quoted Raitt suggesting the health minister would be incapable of dealing with a political hot potato. This was before Aglukkaq won plaudits even from political opponents for the way she handled the swine flu panic.

Both of the colleagues discussed on the tape rallied to Raitt’s defence Tuesday.

Aglukkaq did it in the House of Commons and, before news emerged that he’d also come up in the recording, Prentice did it with reporters on Parliament Hill.

The environment minister praised the way Raitt had handled a medical isotope crisis triggered by problems at the nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont.

“(Raitt) is a very hard working minister on a very difficult file and she’s a valued colleague,” Prentice said outside the Commons.

”She has been working very hard on this issue from the time that she became a minister.”

Colleagues have, in fact, raved about Raitt’s performance around the cabinet table.

A mere eight months into her career as an elected politician, several are already touting her as a future leadership contender — provided that she becomes fluent in French.

Two ministers have described Raitt’s interventions around the table as smart and well-researched.

The former head of Toronto’s port authority has also impressed peers with witty, unscripted responses in House of Commons debates where others plod awkwardly through pre-written crib sheets.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has staked his own political capital on helping her weather the current controversy.

The prime minister leapt to his feet in an energetic defence of his minister Tuesday, and there wasn’t a word of apology from the Tory benches for Raitt’s musings that the medical crisis could help her career.

Harper has been less forgiving of other ministers.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was forced to make an immediate, late-night apology before a phalanx of TV cameras during last fall’s federal election when news emerged that he’d joked about the Listeria crisis.

Maxime Bernier was dumped as foreign affairs minister when he left documents at his girlfriend’s house.

One Conservative staffer said the document fiasco was a handy pretext to dump the under-performing Bernier — and that Raitt is in a different league.

“Look, she’s a competent minister, she’s a woman, and she’s from Ontario,” he said.

“You don’t throw her under the bus unless you absolutely have to. … Do you really want to sacrifice a capable, female, Ontario cabinet minister unless you absolutely have to?”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta is on pace to administer more than 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week, according to the provincial government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
One million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alberta

Alberta hit a milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week. As… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Interior work will start this year on Red Deer hospital project, says infrastructure minister

‘We are committed. This is a top priority,’ says Presad Panda

Even with recent restrictions due to rising COVID-19 variant case levels, about 95 per cent of businesses are open in Alberta, said Premier Jason Kenney. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Consistent pandemic policy has helped Alberta, premier says

Alberta fatality rate lower than Canadian average

Richie Laryea of Toronto FC, left, and Jean Meneses of Mexico's Leon battle for the ball during a CONCACAF Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, in Leon, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Toronto FC hosts Club Leon in the second leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie holding a valuable away goal after a 1-1 draw last week in Mexico. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mario Armas
Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Injury-riddled Toronto FC dispatches Club Leon in CONCACAF Champions League play

Winnipeg Jets' Dylan DeMelo (2) skates the puck around Ottawa Senators' Thomas Chabot (72) as he holds off Winnipeg Jets' Mason Appleton (22) during first-period NHL action in Ottawa on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Winnipeg Jets score two third-period goals to secure 3-2 victory over Ottawa Senators

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) shoots over San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

Anunoby, Siakam rally Raptors past Spurs 117-112

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

John Furlong pitches a broader B.C. bid for 2030 Winter Games

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber throws against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Bichette hits 2nd homer in 9th, Blue Jays beat Yankees 5-4

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) goes to the basket as Utah Jazz forward Jarrell Brantley (5) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Salt Lake City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Rick Bowmer
Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

Undrafted Montreal native Dort continues to smash “glass ceilings” in NBA

A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks past banners for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, to mark 100 days before the start of the Summer Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eugene Hoshiko
Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Rings on the Horizon: Tokyo Summer Olympics hit 100 days out marker

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks during a news conference in Lethbridge, Alta., on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Rossiter
‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

‘Right path:’ Lethbridge police release improvement plan in wake of controversies

Most Read