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Pilot in Command

A friend of mine pointed out the similarities between my two passions, namely politics and flying. After some thought I concluded that he was on to something. 

In flying, one rule dominates- PIC or Pilot in Command. Whether you fly solo in a small single engine airplane, fly with passengers or fly a 747, the pilot is always in command.

When you plan a flight you have to follow the rules as they apply to you. You have to take into account outside factors such as weather, turbulence, the skill of your crew members etc. If that flight is not successful, leaves late or runs late or if unfortunately there is an incident or accident, pilot in command comes into play.  

What did the pilot know? When did they know it? What steps did they take? Were they responsible for the accident? As a pilot the last thing you want to hear from the authorities is that the accident was caused by “pilot error”. That may result in sanctions that can range from ending your career, to a suspension, to a fine. It is also true that an investigation may show that what happened was out of the pilot’s control, in which case the pilot can not be blamed for what happened. Notice, it doesn’t say the pilot is automatically forgiven because a crew member screwed up and didn’t do their job right. What did the pilot know and how did they handle it? 

Let’s look at the Guergis affair now. Go back to Charlottetown and the temper tantrum. Minister in command is the same as pilot in command. A minister is responsible for their actions. As with a pilot, someone in authority would investigate the incident to see if sanctions were warranted. In this instance Guergis had to apologize. In effect an admission of “pilot error”. If you are late for takeoff or leave things to the last minute you can’t blame your crew. There is no doubt that for both a pilot and a minister, those in charge would be watching you pretty closely after that incident. 

Since then we have all the media stories and allegations surrounding her husband. It still boils down to "pilot in command". If you have a crew member or passenger causing problems, how did the pilot act? In this case what did the minister know about her husband’s activities? Did she make the wrong command decisions? When did she first find out or learn about the allegations and incidents in the media? How did she handle the allegations in the newspapers or the House? What steps did she take or not take? When did she first advise authorities that there was a problem? A pilot and a minister can only act on the information available to them? IE what had Mr Jaffer told her? Had staff or others warned her?

The same holds true for the latest speculation about off-shore bank accounts. If the speculation turns out to be true, what did the minister know, what advice did she have? On what information was action taken or not taken If they are not true, then it is not pilot error. 

When a pilot is being investigated for a potentially career ending infraction, you have a choice. Follow the lead of head office or look after yourself. It remains to be seen what the former minister will do.

As with any aircraft incident or accident, there is always intense speculation, unproven allegations and gossip. What we don’t know is was it pilot error? Or was the situation out of the control of the pilot? Time will tell, but in all likelihood this former minister will be grounded for a long time to come.




Just a thought

Aren't defeated MPs provided with shredder service by the House of Commons... IE the office is provided with large blue bins for items to be shredded, or special cardboard boxes, which are sealed and then taken out to be destroyed?


Not a bad days work for the Opposition

When a Prime Minister travels abroad there is ample opportunity to gain plenty of positive press coverage. There are always some photo-ops, statements released about "important" decisions agreed to by the participants and perhaps even a press conference.

An effective Opposition, will always try to disrupt this positive coverage and at the very least push the PM's positive coverage far down the newscast or off the front pages.

Now,  we have Harper taking part in a very serious conference on nuclear issues. And what dominates the news, comments about Guergis by an unidentified former chauffeur, how Guergis got a mortgage, whether the government gave the Ethics Commissioner enough information on the Guegis allegations, where her new seat is in the House chamber. A successful government news story buried again. So much for positive government messaging.

I would like to give the Opposition some credit as they have pounced on the Guergis allegations and ran with them for several days now. Not a bad days work for the Opposition courtesy of a former dethroned minister.


"Let Justice Gomery do his work"

Shortly after agreeing to a public inquiry in 2004 into the sponsorship scandal, Liberal ministers began suggesting the Opposition wait until the inquiry report was finished. One of the first to suggest this was the then Minister of Public Works Stephen Owen, on March 8th, 2004.  However, it is Scott Brison’s Question Period answer that I remember the best.

 “Let Justice Gomery do his work.” Do you remember that phrase? A quick search showed it was used at least as early as April 14, 2005 by Scott Brison (the Liberal Minister of Public Works) to deflect Opposition questions on the sponsorship scandal.

I can recall it being used primarily by Mr. Brison, but others as well, day after day, quite often several times in one Question Period session. It would be the Liberal QP manta up until the first report was delivered in November 2005.

That was a real scandal, one that rocked the Liberal Party and the nation. So far the Guergis affair with unknown allegations doesn’t match up to the sponsorship scandal.

If the Liberals felt it so important to let Justice Gomery do his work, why have they now changed their tune and why are they demanding immediate answers before the Ethics Commissioner and RCMP have done their work? The answer of course is cheap politics and a Leader and party desperate to try to get some positive ink.

Their manufactured outrage may be falling on deaf ears. Other than folks inside the Queensway here in the Ottawa bubble, do Canadians really care? Spring is here, Canadians are outside enjoying the weather and a bunch of angry MPs shouting at each other in Question Period is the last thing on their mind.

Given a choice of watching the antics in Question Period or firing up the BBQ, it’s a no brainer as to which one Canadians will choose.


The gong show is over!

Finally Guergis is gone from cabinet. The media circus will hopefully wind down over the weekend and presumably the government will begin to get other much needed messages out.

The big surprise of course is the exit from caucus. This will generate all sorts of speculation as to what story the government may be trying to pre-empt. Whether or not she left caucus on her own, it has the potential to open up the riding to a nomination meeting and an eventual replacement of the sitting member. It is most doubtful that Guergis could ever win that seat again, especially as an independent.

Hopefully all ministers and staff will take note of what has happened and remember to be nice to those you meet on your way up, as you will also meet them on your way down.