There was a city council meeting in Kamloops, British Columbia during the afternoon of 15 February 2006. Now normally, Kamloops would have little effect on federal politics and Kamloops would have next to nothing to do with the riding of Vancouver-Kingsway and the now infamous and reviled, David Emerson.
But, it did.
Betty Hinton is the Conservative MP from Kamloops and the Parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Hinton certainly isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer and her federal political roots are Reform Party, but she does work for her riding, even if she often demonstrates a complete lack of ability to grasp issues. On 15 Feb., she was invited to attend and answer questions at Kamloops city council.
Kamloops mayor, Terry Lake, expressed concerns that funding which had been promised for major city infrastructure projects under the Liberal government would now evaporate under Harper. One of the more significant concerns was funding for airport flight safety improvements and runway expansion. It was noted that Trade Minister David Emerson was familiar with the plan and, by Kamloops' good fortune, it happened to be geographically located in the Pacific Gateway, one of the ministerial titles held by Emerson. Perhaps some of the money could come from the Pacific Gateway program, a ministerial level federal operation.
Then Hinton dropped a little bombshell.
So, one of the major responsibilities held by David Emerson is nothing more than an unfunded idea. No money, no plan, no trade initiative.
"First of all it won't be Minister Emerson...." she said. "Secondly, there is no Pacific Gateway. It's best described as an idea. It wasn't flushed out..." (Mike Youds, Kamloops Daily News, Thursday, February 16, 2006)
Harper, in defending the recruitment and defection of Emerson, against the wishes of Emerson's constituents, appointed him to take charge of an initiative that the Conservatives appear to have junked. There was a strategy under the Liberal government, but one of Harper's junior ministers was adamant that there is no such plan under the Conservatives.
So, pray tell, Mr. Harper, who is the minister responsible for unicorns?