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Maclean's forces Tory MPs into 'separatist trap'

The latest edition of Maclean's magazine, which has sparked furor in Quebec, is seen at a news stand in North Vancouver on Sept. 24, 2010.


Not: Tories, Maclean's and separatists. Many Conservative MPs didn't like what they did Wednesday night in voting against freedom of the press and Maclean's magazine but felt cornered by the separatist Bloc Quebecois.

It was quite a disturbing scene. By unanimous consent, MPs from all parties condemned the publication for "the prejudice displayed and the stereotypes employed by Maclean's magazine to denigrate the Quebec nation, its history and its institutions."

There are 75 federal seats in the province; no politician wants to anger Quebeckers.

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The magazine's cover showed the iconic winter carnival mascot, Bonhomme, holding a briefcase overflowing with cash with an accompanying headline that called Quebec "the most corrupt province in Canada."

"Many of us had problems with the motion," a thoughtful Conservative MP said, feeling that it "attacked freedom of the press and free speech."

"Ultimately, we went along for one reason," the MP said. "It was a separatist trap that would feed their narrative. That said many didn't care for the cover image or the fact that they didn't clarify that it isn't Quebec that they are stating is corrupt, it's their political system."

The MP concluded that, "All in all, it was a sad thing that happened in Parliament, not to mention when they sought unanimous consent one courageous Quebecker objected [Independent MP Andre Arthur]and then the Bloc sneakily resubmitted what should have been out of order and passed it."

Hot: Ruby Dhalla. The 36-year-old Ontario Liberal MP is in India Friday and over the weekend, meeting Canadian athletes at the Commonwealth Games and pushing Canada's trade potential to a big Indian audience.

Ms. Dhalla was asked by Stephen Harper's Conservatives to travel to India - she was born in Canada but has deep roots in the country - for the Games.

It's an interesting invitation from the government. Her own party and leader do not use her well given that she is a smart and attractive young woman, attributes that are rare in the House of Commons.

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But Ms. Dhalla has suffered because of reports last year alleging her family had mistreated caregivers. They landed her in hot water with Michael Ignatieff and she resigned her role in the shadow cabinet as youth and multiculturalism critic.

She vigorously defended herself and the allegations never went anywhere. But neither did Ms. Dhalla; she has not been reinstated to a full critic's role. Some of her colleagues believe she is being treated unfairly by the Liberal Leader.

That hasn't stopped her, however. Accompanying Gary Lunn, the junior sports minister, she is also speaking Friday to a large audience of Indian businesspeople about the opportunities that exist between the two countries.

Ms. Dhalla has attracted attention in India. As a young Sikh Canadian woman in elected office, she's received some glowing press there - including a story t in The Economic Times on Sunday with the headline: "The Ruby Way." It's a profile of Ms. Dhalla that discusses her issues, including supporting the rights of the elderly, and talks about her meeting at the G20 summit in Toronto this summer with the Indian Prime Minister.

Hot: Tony Clement, keeper of the Great Seal.The Industry Minister discovered only this week that he is part of the installation ceremonies Friday morning for the new Governor-General, David Johnston.

Mr. Clement is also the Registrar General - and it's the job of that person to keep the Great Seal of Canada, which is used on all state documents and proclamations. According to a description by Canadian Heritage, it bears the "effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, in her robes, holding the orb and sceptre, and shows her sitting on the coronation chair."

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So at precisely 11:22 a.m. Friday, Mr. Clement takes centre stage.

There have been jokes about his role - for example, that he keeps the Great Seal in his desk drawer beside the stapler - but he is quite thrilled with his duties. "Apparently I bow and present the Great Seal to the Governor-General," he wrote in an email to The Globe early Friday morning. "My Mom will be sooo proud!"

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