Stephen Harper was played for a fool by Maxime Bernier, but one thing about Harper, at least when he realised his grave error, he fired the man quickly.
For weeks the Liberals have been questioning Bernier's private life. Many questioned the Liberals' motives, as it seemed that it was puerile to be probing a cabinet minister's romantic choice, a woman who had had relationships with organized crime. Harper dismissed the Liberals, and in doing so missed the significance of Bernier already showing poor judgement in his job as foreign minister, specifically in Afghanistan. And if he could show such poor judgement on such an important topic -- and one would assume well-briefed, given how tightly Harper controls every syllable uttered by his cabinet and caucus -- then how much poorer would be his judgement when it came to his personal life? After all, it's not like there have been no politicians in history that haven't leaked state secrets to girlfriends or been manipulated by their girlfriends for profit, wittingly or unwittingly. Bernier seemed to be the unwitting type, and so it proved to be true.
I do wonder about how a man could be so daft as to carry classified documents, including a secret document pertaining to NATO's role in Afghanistan, to his girlfriend's place and then be so bewitched by what went on in the privacy of her home that he had no idea -- absolutely none -- that he had left those documents at her place until he learnt about it from her lawyer last night. Now, aren't they supposed to be separated? Isn't the relationship totally over? So when did he leave those documents -- it wasn't only 48 hours ago was it? No, she says that it was in mid-April, over a month ago. How could Bernier not notice all this time that he'd left them there? Was he just carrying them around for show because his deputy minister told him to take them home to read, and he had no intention of doing so and that's why he didn't miss them? The mind boggles.
Then to compound his error, once he learnt of his gaffe, he waffled on telling Harper until almost 24 hours later, just before his girlfriend was going to spill the beans on television. Seems to me she's the only one who has shown any sense, first calling up a lawyer when she discovered the errant documents in her place and now going on record about the whole affair -- actually communicating to the Canadian people, using the media, the usual way people and governments communicate to the populace, something Harper still does not understand.
Anyone could tell Bernier was a flake. I never did understand why Harper appointed him to such an important post in the first place, unless he was toadying to the Québec vote, which shows poor judgement in and of itself. One should not place national security and diplomatic relations at risk for the sake of a few votes.
Then when the Liberals started questioning his dealings with Julie Couillard, one would have expected a control freak like Harper to haul Bernier before himself to ensure he had not been a fool and, in addition, had him investigated. I cannot believe that Harper had no inkling that Bernier was exactly the kind of man who would be so enraptured by a beautiful woman that he'd thoughtlessly leave sensitive documents behind and not even know it. Yet apparently he is. That shows poor judgement.