For the record: Westmount-Ville Marie’s Marc Garneau

Written by  //  July 24, 2008  //  Beryl Wajsman, Canada  //  Comments Off on For the record: Westmount-Ville Marie’s Marc Garneau

Marc Garneau – Westmount-Ville-Marie

July 24
Where’s the Conservative plan for industry?

Marc Garneau, Montreal Gazette
Investing in key industrial sectors has long been a cornerstone of Canada’s economic strategy. Governments have used these investments to ensure that quality jobs are created and maintained in all parts of the country and to reinforce Canada’s position on the world stage as a strong industrial player. …
The real problem here is that we have a government that has no coherent plan for our industrial sector. And it is a real problem. With the economy flickering and our biggest trade partner, the US, economy still sluggish, what industry needs is consistency and long term predictability. What this government is offering instead is political manoeuvring.
What is this government doing to Science?

Garneau looks forward to by-election
(Westmount Examiner) Liberal hopeful keeps a high profile in Westmount – Ville Marie riding

Marc Garneau et « la cohesione sociale »
P.A. Sévigny
(The Metropolitain) “While everybody seems to have a lot on their mind…questions about the environment and global warming do seem very important in the political dialogue in the riding,” he said.
While the crumbling urban infrastructure and the city’s shaky finances are not, strictly speaking, part of the federal government’s political mandate, Garneau agreed the city’s services and its municipal infrastructure would have to be improved if Montreal is to maintain its status as one of the major cities of North America. He intends to do what he can to help the city because he, like any other politician in this new millennium, understands how important cities have become for the future of any modern economy. He also said people are concerned about Canada’s political and social image in the world at large.

From left to right Westmount-Ville Marie Liberal candidate Marc Garneau, Westmount Federal Liberal Association President Brigitte Garceau and Suburban editor Beryl Wajsman.


January 16, 2008
The Suburban
In our time, political life seems to attract far too many mediocrities. When someone of integrity and excellence decides to enter the arena, regardless of party, it is compelling to sit with them and see how they view the world.
Westmount federal Liberal candidate
Marc Garneau is a cut above. We wanted to know his vision and values. What he felt he was giving up, in personal terms, by going back into public life. How he intended to translate the traditions of service and sacrifice that have marked his career as a naval officer, astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency with the often restrictive and partisan parameters of Canadian politics. How were the delays in his nomination resolved? What does he want to do for Westmount-Ville Marie?
We spoke with him, and Westmount Federal Liberal Association president Brigitte Garceau, in our offices last week.

Beryl Wajsman: Mr. Garneau, many people are interested to know how you resolved your frustrations with the delay in your nomination and Mr. Dion’s response. How did it all come together?
Marc Garneau: To answer the question directly, Mr. Dion was reluctant to get involved with association decisions and I was at a crossroads in my own life. I had to make some decisions and The Gazette happened to ask me my plans. I said I could no longer wait after having been prepared to run in the spring. I think that struck a chord with Stéphane Dion because he reached out to me and I give him full credit for that.
BW: What happened?
MG: He invited me to Stornoway (the opposition leader’s residence) and I had dinner with him and discovered a person I had only known through the media and the convention. I discovered a person who has a solid vision of where this country should go.
BW: No hard feelings left?
MG: No hard feelings at all.
BW: Since we have Brigitte Garceau with us today, the president of the Westmount Liberal Federal Association, let me ask you something that was on the minds of many residents of Westmount-Ville Marie. Would you have been ready to run in an open nomination race?
MG: Yes absolutely. I indicated that I was very ready to run for the nomination in Westmount-Ville Marie which is also my home riding.
BW: Many in your riding are very pleased that there is a candidate who actually lives in the riding. What have you felt on the streets?
MG: I’ve received a very warm welcome from the constituents. Very good feelings on the streets. And as you said, very positive reactions to the fact that this candidate actually lives in the riding.
BW: Marc, let me ask you a question that I’ve put to others of military background, like Gen. Lew MacKenzie, who entered politics. How does one transfer the traditions of service and sacrifice that mark a career in uniform into a political arena too often marked by expediency?
MG: That’s a very good question. In the military it is all about action. It’s about the mission. And you get on with the tasks at hand. But you have to demonstrate leadership and the highest standard of service to the country. I served my country in the navy and in the space world with those things in mind. Leadership and service. I now want to bring what I learned, bring the skills I developed, into the political world. It is through leadership that we can transfer the best service traditions into the public arena.
BW: Even non-Liberals agree that your career has been hallmarked by integrity and excellence. The Canadian political scene is very partisan. It’s hard to be as independent as in the United States. Here one is expected to follow party discipline. Do you worry about maintaining your hallmarks?
MG: Some of my best friends told me not to go into politics because sometimes you have to toe the party line on certain issues. I intend to maintain my integrity. There are certain absolute issues where I will not toe a party line. In other cases I will vote with the party if my integrity is not compromised. There is a certain amount of pragmatism in politics as in life.
BW: What are examples of absolute issues?
MG: For example, I am pro-choice and against the death penalty. I want to be remembered, as before, as a competent officer, astronaut, president of the Canadian Space Agency, and I want to be known as a competent politician who did his job with integrity and served in the best traditions of public office.
BW: You’ve made the environment a centrepiece of your agenda. With such a cacophony of voices on this issue in this country and in Parliament what do you hope to achieve?
MG: Here is an example of where I will have to make my voice heard. I will make it clear what I think we have to do on the environment. There will be other voices. And what could come may not be exactly what I want. But I will have an important input.
BW: Many are of the opinion that the Kyoto Protocol is unworkable when nations representing two-thirds of the world’s population have not signed on and the Canadian taxpayer has footed the bill for billions of emissions credits purchased. Without countries like China and India coming on board, do we continue with Kyoto anyway?
MG: I would say yes, because Canada and the U.S. are among the biggest emitters per capita. I believe China and India will implement proper measures in time.
BW: Without any kind of pressure?
MG: I believe the pressure will be there if needed. If nations demonstrate a lack of serious purpose on this issue it would not be out of the realm of possibility to consider reducing purchases from, and trade with, such countries. If nations like Canada reduce their purchases from emerging economies — if there are even discussions of such strategies — the discussions themselves will have an effect.
BW: A Liberal government signed Kyoto and emissions went up by a greater percentage in Canada than in the United States. We talked the talk but did not walk the walk. What does a Marc Garneau say in Liberal councils?
MG: I say you do have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We must admit that we were slow off the mark. Not as bad as Conservative deniers and John Baird’s policies, but we were slow. We underestimated the complexities of Kyoto and how much work had to be done. But make no mistake about it, Stéphane Dion knows the complexities of the issues and knows the work that has to be done.
BW: With your background in the military, life abroad, so much experience in international co-operation, the space program, isn’t Marc Garneau just as interested in foreign affairs and defense issues? When I first heard you in the last election I thought “here was somebody who understands the world.”
MG: Well I’m very flattered. I do come from a military family. My father and grandfather fought in both world wars. There is a particular world view that I bring.
I’ve spent 17 years of my life outside of Canada. External affairs is a crucial job for this country. We have some excellent people in the Liberal Party like Bob Rae who bring a great deal of depth to this area. I can honestly say that where people see me making a major contribution is in science and technology innovation. This is an area where I have spent a major amount of time. My environmental interest is not narrow and limited. It includes how scientific and technological innovations develop and can be integrated in solving environmental issues. I don’t think that North America has got innovation as right as the Europeans do. I would like to see a fully independent Minister of Science and Technology.
BW: You have spoken much of Liberal values. One of the cardinal values when I came to political maturity and was working for Prime Minister Trudeau was the notion of a strong federal government celebrating what unites Canadians more than what divides us. Celebrating our common universalities, not our provincial particularities. The promise that centralized federalism can make us greater than the sum of our parts. Yet today we hear no such vision though Mr. Dion devoted his career to it. Instead we see successive governments, of whatever party, devolving powers to the provinces for electoral advantage. So should not the true defining issue in terms of Liberal values be, “Who will speak for Canada?”
MG: Federations have to evolve….and I’m not trying to make a pitch here. My position is that it is possible to be proud of a provincial heritage and at the same time be a proud federalist. The key to making a federation work where, particularly our federation where the component parts — the provinces — want greater authority, is to have federal leadership that can show that it can make the federation work by constructively resolving competing claims. Many of our federal-provincial issues are very emotionally laden. I believe we have the will to speak for Canada. I think that’s what we should aspire to. But we have to deal with the specifics of each area of competing jurisdictional demands. I believe strongly that Stéphane Dion will speak for Canada as prime minister.
BW: What do you want the people of Westmount-Ville Marie to say about Marc Garneau the MP?
MG: I want the people of Westmount-Ville Marie to say hey, this fellow Marc Garneau is representing the interests of this riding but also those of the country. I want them to say that I have clearly and candidly explained what we are doing for them. To do that I have to be available. And I am, and will continue to be, available to all constituents. Constituency work is very important and I never take anything for granted. And finally I want them to say that Garneau does his job with competence and with integrity.

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