Worthwhile Canadian initiative … Rona Ambrose said to be departing politics to help out the Wilson Centre

Posted on May 16, 2017, 1:15 am
6 mins

PHOTOS: Outgoing interim federal Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose listens seriously to someone in this Government of Canada shot found lingering on the Internet. Below: Ms. Ambrose and her domestic partner, J.P. Veitch, grabbed from her Facebook page, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, plucked from the author’s vast collection of political mugshots.

Well, that’s no fun!

Rona Ambrose – Member of Parliament for the Alberta riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland on the west side of Edmonton and interim Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the nation’s capital – will give a farewell speech this morning at which it is universally acknowledged she will announce her departure from federal politics.

Tout le monde political Alberta has been abuzz for ages with entertaining rumours Ms. Ambrose was about to take on Jason Kenney and Brian Jean for the leadership of the new, soon-to-be-united Alberta provincial conservative party or, perhaps even better, that she was ready to battle Calgary’s popular Mayor Naheed Nenshi for the honour of serving as Cowtown’s chief magistrate.

The first version always seemed a bit unlikely, since the man she so loyally served in Parliament in recent years, former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, is clearly part of Mr. Kenney’s support apparatus in the conservative effort to wrest Alberta back from Rachel Notley’s New Democratic Party and restore the province to climate villainy.

And the second version was widely mocked in social media yesterday evening, after it was rather apologetically mentioned in the Toronto Star, because Calgary is not Edmonton and the distance between the two was taken to be symbolic of eastern journalists’ lack of understanding of western geographical and political realities.

In truth, though, this story was not as far-fetched as it might have seemed at first blush, Ms. Ambrose having been widely perceived to have given up on the Edmonton region not long after her divorce from her first husband, Bruce Ambrose, in 2011. Her present domestic partner, James Patrick (J.P.) Veitch – who is inevitably referenced as a former rodeo bull rider but would probably be described better as a well-heeled and well-connected oilpatch insider – is a Calgary guy, after all, and the couple would have to live somewhere after they move out of Stornoway.

This, by the way, is not mentioned as a criticism, except perhaps of over-sensitive Alberta journalists always on the lookout for some slight by their counterparts in the big smoke on Lake Ontario. As has been noted in this space before, both John A. Macdonald and Tommy Douglas, to name just two with easy-to-remember names, served electoral districts far from where they actually lived. (Indeed, prime minister Macdonald never even visited Victoria, B.C.)

Alas for everyone who follows politics here in Alberta, though, not to mention the myriad journalists he scooped, the capable Josh Wingrove of Bloomberg News reported that Ms. Ambrose is leaving politics to work on the free trade file for … the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars’ Canada Institute based in Washington D.C.

This is decidedly unexciting news – and it fits well, as luck would have it, right under the most famously boring headline in history, “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative.” Yet the report has the ring of verisimilitude, Mr. Wingrove having managed to get his hands on a copy of the think tank’s press release announcing Ms. Ambrose’s appointment. She will confront the crazed trade policies of President Donald Trump’s Administration as head of the Wilson Centre’s “efforts to convene U.S. and Canadian officials to explore the benefits of an integrated and competitive North American economy that is focused on job creation and prosperity,” said the presser quoted by Mr. Wingrove.

She is probably well qualified for the job, having confronted and successfully controlled the crazed members of her own caucus, not to mention its leadership candidates, after the party’s loss to Liberals led by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau in the 2015 Canadian election, a job that cannot have been restful. She did so with only one major stumble – being caught aboard a billionaire’s yacht the same week she was assailing the prime minister for being caught aboard a billionaire’s helicopter. Ah well, it could have happened to any one of us.

The Wilson Centre is tied closely to the U.S. Government. It is housed in the Ronald Reagan Building. And so, if this report turns out to be correct, as a former Conservative Party leader Ms. Ambrose should feel right at home.

The Wilson Centre is not related to the Wilson Climbing Centre at the University of Alberta. The former is named for President Woodrow Wilson, whose exploits are celebrated in the famous song by Warren Zevon, the latter after generous donors Dick and Carol Wilson.

12 Comments to: Worthwhile Canadian initiative … Rona Ambrose said to be departing politics to help out the Wilson Centre

  1. DaveD

    May 16th, 2017

    Toodles.

    Reply
  2. May 16th, 2017

    I wish her well.

    She picked up Harper’s mess inside the Party after the election. I believe that for a time she bridged the gap between the Reformers and the Red Tories. And there is still a divide waiting to be torn open possibly by the next leader.

    She did a first rate job and she will be missed. It is too bad that we did not have more Rona Ambrose’s and Lisa Raitt’s….and far less Kelly Leitch’s in the Party.

    Reply
  3. David

    May 16th, 2017

    Maybe Rona is smarter than any of us give her credit for. I doubt that she was seriously considering running for Mayor of Calgary and even the Toronto Star seemed almost hesitant to print that rumor. I suspect Rona’s understanding of Alberta geography is better than that of whoever in Ottawa started that rumor, unless it was as a joke to see how many gullible people in Ottawa or Ontario would fall for it.

    I would also like to think she is smart enough to leave the Alberta Unite the Right potential debacle – Part II well enough alone until after the dust settles. A few years at a prestigious sounding place like the Woodrow Wilson Centre would be very good for her resume and allow her to come back to Alberta and potentially save the right after the next Provincial Election.

    After all, didn’t her mentor former PM Harper spend a number of years at a right wing foundation/think tank waiting things out before returning successfully to Federal politics at just the right moment? I think in this case Rona may have learned from her previous master much better than Kenney. I guess Calgary will also have to wait for its great right hope, MP for Edmonton/Spruce Grove is just not quite impressive enough for the big Cowtown even if her domestic partner is a big time rodeo bull rider and oil man.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      May 16th, 2017

      Harper wasn’t at a think-tank. He was at a two-man AstroTurf group called The National Citizen’s Coalition. Kenney, for his part, would have had to actually finish university to be any use to a think-tank.

      Reply
      • David

        May 17th, 2017

        Ok, yes more tank than think. I am trying to forget some of the details of the earlier Harper years. I find it makes me happier.

        Reply
  4. Ron

    May 16th, 2017

    Methinks she might be back to pick up the pieces in 2020 after the Bernier CONs are reduced to the third (fourth?) party.
    With the CONs exiting reality stage right and the Trudeau gov’t looking more and more like the Harper gov’t

    It opens up the door for the NDP, if we get the right leader…. or perhaps even the Greens

    Reply
  5. ronmac

    May 16th, 2017

    In a way Ambrose may be on the cutting edge of a trend. As robots chase more and more workers to the sidelines, I can see a proliferation in the number of think tanks in the future. I can see 40 percent of tomorrow’s workforce being employed by think tanks. I can even see the day when think tanks are sponsoring their own sports teams.

    If you, or somebody you know, is employed by a think tank let’s hope they can avoid this kind of day.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xU-rJNgoWU

    Reply
  6. Bill Malcolm

    May 16th, 2017

    Ah yes, Woodrow Wilson, the man who re-segregated the US armed forces. What was a southern intellectual to do? Support the Jim Crow laws for a start. Wipe out Lincoln’s legacy, and well, blink a lot behind thick glasses while pretending to be some kind of caring intellectual was his approach. As one of the backlashes to Teddy Roosevelt, old Woody made sure the US did right well out of WW1, advancing US business interests almost through the back door while piously looking on and writing up his 14 Points. And behind it all, he was a racist. Nice one Woody. Don’t suppose Ms Ambrose has studied any history though. She’s just looking for a nahss job to get away from the intellectual vacuum that is the CPC. I hope some crass CBP official gives her a hassle at the border to “The Greatest Country On Earth” when she can’t find her Green Card in her purse.

    Bye bye. We scarcely knew you, other than as a useless minister of environment, then of health. Does everyone forget?

    Reply
    • MAGGIE

      May 16th, 2017

      A very interesting comment which taught me something today. Thank you.

      Reply
  7. Pogo

    May 16th, 2017

    She did do a decent job of baby-sitting Peter MacKay, which is of course a key feature of objectivism, as Ayn Rand would surely attest if she could break her chains in the seventh circle of hell where she currently resides. Otherwise I prefer a solid do-nothing like Lisa “oops Lac Megantic chair warmer sychophant” Rait. The rest of the Harpies? Oooo. Our host would ban me!

    Reply
  8. jerrymacgp

    May 17th, 2017

    Ms Ambrose is living proof of something we progressives often don’t like to admit: sometimes, even dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives can be reasonable people. I had the opportunity to meet with her last fall, in Ottawa, in the context of a lobbying effort by a national not-for-profit professional association of which I am a Board member, and she was open to what we had to say, genuinely engaged, and offered positive feedback to our ask. I think she will be missed on the Hill.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 17th, 2017

      I often agree with Jerry, but I have to respectfully disagree in this case. While it is clear Ms. Ambrose is a civil and intelligent woman, she is known to hold beliefs that cannot be described as reasonable, viz., the repugnant “philosophy” of Ayn Rand. So I doubt she was genuinely engaged in the sense that she was really listening to the arguments Jerry put forward insofar as they ran counter to her disturbing core value system. In addition, most progressive people think many conservatives, small c and large, are reasonable people based on simple observation. Speaking for myself, I’ve even voted for small-c conservatives whom I know to be reasonable people on occasion. Alas, I have never believed that Ms. Ambrose is one of these reasonable conservatives, notwithstanding her obvious ability to charm the unwary. DJC

      Reply

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