Which Tory should resign?

It is the refuge of the frustrated opposition politician.

It is the refuge of the frustrated opposition politician.

“Resign,” comes the cri de coeur, a call now coming with more intensity and frequency.

It has been heard four times in the past two weeks, calls for the ouster of Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the associate defence minister, Julian Fantino, Industry Minister Christian Paradis and even Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Until Thursday, the calls had usually come from the third-party Liberals and the call for Harper’s ouster came from interim leader Bob Rae.

New Democrats had been more circumspect, but auditor general Michael Ferguson’s revelation that the cabinet had to know — before the 2011 election — that the F-35s were more costly than they were saying publicly, sparked Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair to call for MacKay’s resignation.

Based on convention and invoking the sometimes elusive qualities of honour and accountability, how many, if any, of the four really should resign?

MacKay was clearly missing in action on the biggest file on his watch, and he may have been complicit in misleading Parliament on the cost of the planes.

He has become a liability to Harper, who had to defend him earlier after revelations about his use of a government search-and-rescue helicopter to extricate himself from a fishing lodge.

New Democrats called for his resignation then.

Harper and MacKay hunkered down after the helicopter ride and are doing so again after it was made clear by Ferguson that the bureaucracy took MacKay for a ride.

There are no consequences because no money has been spent purchasing the planes, Harper said Thursday.

But the noose is tightening around MacKay.

But MacKay’s fate is tricky for Harper.

MacKay may yet harbour leadership ambitions, he has a strong following in the party and he represents the moderate wing of the Conservatives.

Harper would risk too much political blowback if he demoted him, but whether it is the question of misleading Parliament or accountability, MacKay is on extremely shaky ground.

Fantino, the associate minister of defence has been feckless, but has been asked by Harper to become a human shield, repeating the same talking points day after day to take the heat off MacKay.

Liberal Judy Foote said in so doing Fantino misled Canadians and should resign.

That is nonsense. Fantino need not resign, but with the F-35 responsibility moved to Public Works he is now massively underemployed.

Rae was clearly overreaching in demanding the Prime Minister’s resignation. Rae likened the situation to a private company CEO who peddled misinformation to shareholders and made a $10 billion error in the real costs of a project.

That CEO would be fired, Rae said.

Sure enough, but a democratically elected Prime Minister is not going to resign because his government is under siege and Rae knows that.

Paradis is only peripherally involved in the F-35 fiasco. But he has been found guilty of conflict-of-interest, he is labouring under two other ethical clouds involving the moving of a government office to his home riding and a visit to a hunting lodge of Marcel Aubut, who was lobbying the government for money for a new hockey arena.

On Wednesday, CTV News revealed his spokesperson (who resigned last week) had put a Las Vegas hotel room on his government-issued credit card during a personal vacation.

Paradis may be important to Harper in Quebec, but the mountain of real or perceived ethics breaches has become too much and he should resign.

That’s what should happen, but as Harper has shown time and again, he is inclined to tough it out rather than admit failure by firing a minister.

He does not shuffle his cabinet under pressure.

But beyond the solid quartet of senior ministers – John Baird, Jim Flaherty, Jason Kenney and James Moore — this is a cabinet that often can’t seem to steer clear of trouble.

Tim Harper is a syndicated national affairs writer for the Toronto Star.

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

Just Posted

Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a fatal collision involving a pedestrian on Feb. 27. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP investigate fatal pedestrian collision

Collision occured west of Rocky on Highway 11A

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

March will be dramatically warmer through the prairies

Bharat Masrani, CEO, TD Bank Group speaks at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

Shares in metals and mining companies have rebounded sharply

A worker carrying a disinfectant sprayer walks past a WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft, after cleaning another plane at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
WestJet to lay off undisclosed number of pilots amid labour negotiations

Layoff notices to go out ahead of the expiration of a memorandum of agreement

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

Canada has ordered 24 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

A ” Justice for Jeff” T-shirt. (Photo submitted)
Rally to be held outside Red Deer courthouse for slain Ponoka man

Sentencing for accused charged with manslaughter with a firearm set for March 4

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson makes a shot against Team Alberta as second Shannon Birchard, right, and lead Briane Meilleur sweep in the semi-final at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Kerri Einarson wins second straight Canadian women’s curling championship

Einarson and her teammates celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the Golden Globes on Feb. 28, 2021. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
With loved ones and pets, Globes winners embrace cozier show

Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch

The cast of “Schitt’s Creek” pose for a photo after winning the Award for Best Comedy Series at the Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto on March 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Schitt’s Creek nabs two Golden Globes for its final season

Catherine O’Hara named best television actress in a musical or comedy

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

Most Read