Prime minister discourages Pettigrew from mulling OAS chair as election looms: “OTTAWA (CP) – Paul Martin tried to talk Pierre Pettigrew out of any notion of leaving politics to become head of the Organization of American States after the foreign affairs minister recently emerged as a candidate. Sources told The Canadian Press the prime minister made it clear to Pettigrew during a weekend conversation that his departure would be misconstrued as unhappiness with the federal Liberals on the eve of a possible election.”
Apparently, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew is being courted to run for the position of Secretary General in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Organization of American States after the two candidates, Chile’s Interior Minister Jose Insulza and Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Derbez, continuously got 17 votes a piece from the 34-member state OAS. This is after five rounds of voting. Interestingly, Pettigrew has been campaigning for Mexico’s Derbez and Derbez is the choice of the Government of Canada, according to Pettigrew spokesperson Sebastien Theberge. “Clearly, what matters at this time and I want to emphasize it, is that Canada maintains its support for the Mexican candidate, Luis Ernesto Derbez,” Theberge said.
Melanie Gruer, Press Secretary to Prime Minister Paul Martin, had this to say: “They (Pettigrew and Martin) have discussed the impasse at the OAS (and) they’ve talked about the rumours of other candidates being brought forward as a kind of consensus measure.” So even though the Office of the Prime Minister has discouraged Pettigrew from running for the illustrious international diplomatic role, it’s still possible he could take the job should the next OAS vote on May 2nd in Washington, DC, produce yet-another-stalemate. Plus, Pettigrew speaks fluent Spanish and has indicated he hopes to be involved with an international organization following his political career.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens on this front, in terms of whether or not Mr. Pettigrew seeks the job and resigns his seat (and cabinet position) in the House of Commons and Government of Canada. It is my position that he is a remarkably intelligent, well spoken individual with a solid moral grounding and left-of-centre political ideology and he would be well placed in a position of this nature. He should take it, as Prime Minister Martin likes to be his own Foreign Affairs Minister these days having trumpeted the recently released, revised Canadian international policy statement and other government views on issues such as the Asian earthquake and tsunami disaster in December 2004. Martin should, therefore, tap a junior cabinet person, of similar ideology to Pettigrew, for the foreign affairs portfolio should Pettigrew leave. Someone like International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll or Veterans Affairs Minister Albina Guarnieri, who previously served as Associate Minister of National Defence in a previous Martin cabinet and has the experience necessary. Assuming the Guarnieri scenario, Parliamentary Secretary (Foreign Affairs) Dan McTeague could be elevated to cabinet, assuming the Veterans Affairs Minister position. A Liberal MP in an unsafe riding could be given the added “padding” by assuming McTeague’s parliamentary secretary duties for foreign affairs, in the event of a snap federal election at the result of a Conservative-backed motion of non-confidence in the House of Commons to bring down the government.