by News Chronicle,photograph,1934

PHOTOS: A typical constituent of Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose searches their Sturgeon River-Parkland riding northwest of Edmonton for a sign of his MP. Actual constituents of this Alberta MP may not appear exactly as illustrated. Below: Ms. Ambrose herself (CBC Photo) and Ms. Ambrose’s favourite author.

Well, nobody in the shrunken Parliamentary ranks of the Conservative Party of Canada is going to say anything rude about Rona Ambrose, Member of Parliament for Sturgeon River-Parkland northwest of Edmonton, now that they’ve chosen her as their interim helmsperson and leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

And on paper, Ms. Ambrose has a thrilling resume – former holder of eight different cabinet posts since 2006, several of them important; the youngest woman ever appointed to cabinet; an MP for more than a decade regularly elected without breaking in to a sweat by whopping majorities; trilingual (English, Portuguese and Spanish); and so on. Her Wikipedia biography says she grew up both in Brazil and Parkland County, Alberta – although not at the same time, presumably.

Mainstream media seems to have taken the bait hook line and sinker, anxious to present Ms. Ambrose as an attractive and youthful yet conservative counterpoint to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Not so fast! On the job, she is not quite as inspiring as on paper. Moreover, nowadays, while sightings are reported from time to time, she seems to be largely a stranger to her riding. Does she even live there? It’s hard to tell from the murky reports on the Internet.

Ms. Ambrose, who is now 46, is said to be big fan of Ayn Rand novels like Atlas Shrugged, and we all know what that means. One of far-right video agitator Ezra Levant’s failed publications named her No. 17 on a list of “pro-freedom activists, journalists, think-tankers and partisans.”

Ms. Ambrose’s performance as environment minister in the mid-Zeros was seen as underwhelming, after which then-prime-minister Stephen Harper seemed to demote her for a spell.

But as political columnist Don Martin put it in a National Post piece back in 2010, she “was kicked rather unceremoniously out of the green portfolio for merely following orders.” The orders in question being Mr. Harper’s, of course, to get Canada the hell out of the Kyoto Protocol, which was despised by the Republican clones who prospered under the former Dear Leader’s regime.

Perhaps she said a little too much from time to time and was sent somewhere for some reeducation.

Whatever happened, it seems to have worked. Ms. Ambrose’s record thereafter in such roles as pro-life minister for the status of women and hyperbolically marijuana-hating minister of health was certainly that of a well-trained Harper loyalist who knew how to stick to her talking points and behave. The headline writer for Mr. Martin’s story cleverly dubbed her the Minister for Keeping Her Mouth Shut, and Mr. Martin proclaimed her to be “back in Stephen Harper’s inner circle of love.”

So her choice by Conservative MPs and Senators as interim party leader yesterday suggests to me that the former prime minister remains firmly in control of his party, and that it is unlikely to deviate from Mr. Harper’s hard-right policy preferences and inclination for divisive wedge issues as long as Ms. Ambrose has her hand on the wheel.

If you were hoping for a reborn Conservative Party that would open the door a crack to the return of Red Tories, moderate regard for a positive role for government and a kinder, gentler image under a new leader, don’t look for it with Ms. Ambrose temporarily residing in Stornoway, the Opposition leader’s residence in Ottawa.

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  1. It’s not surprising that Ms. Ambrose is a fan of Ayn (as in ‘swine’, she once quipped) Rand. After all, Ms. Rand wrote second rate romance novels for teenage girls. And Lord knows that the Conservatives have more than their fair share of teenage girls (*cough* Michelle Rempel *cough*).

  2. Yesterday I was told that she actually lives in Calgary, which may explain the lack of information on Wiki. No doubt the Tories wouldn’t want the people of Sturgeon River- Parkland to know that she is basically a parachute candidate.

    She may be bilingual (Portugese and Spanish) but last time I checked it’s English and French that are the two official languages of Canada. Judging by her poor effort in French yesterday she will need to work on it.

  3. I live in Ms. Ambrose’s ‘old’ riding. Never saw her. In 2004 and 2005 I approached her office several times regarding an immigration matter. I never received an answer to my questions, but got a lot of promotional literature. I think it’s great she is the interim leader as it signals that the Cons have no interest in changing their ways which should keep them out of power for a long time. Actually Michelle Rempel was my first choice.

  4. Are you suggesting, Mr. Climenhaga, that in the game of martinets and marionettes that newly minted back bencher Stephen Harper will continue to pull the strings of the hapless Ms. Ambrose while reading a dog eared copy of “The Fountainhead”?

  5. Pft! Harper in a skirt!

    She’s just a stand-in until Jason Kenny takes over the party and perpetuates Harper’s teabagging republican brand of politics.

    The Harpercons, are not serious about moving to a more reasonable position. Now you know why Harper is staying on – just to make sure his party doesn’t become corrupted by reason and logic.

    1. Not so sure about that… Ms Ambrose has just announced that her Conservative caucus will now support a MMIW public inquiry, something which was anathema to Harper. Maybe just window dressing, but still a breath of fresh air…maybe they’ve opened that window a crack?

  6. I must confess, I find it a bit tiresome to see references to Ayn Rand in a column like this. I’ve never read her, as I’m sure many of your readers haven’t, and from reviews I’ve read about her writing, Big Pharma can’t manufacture enough Gravol, nor Tim Hortons enough coffee, to make it readable by someone like me. Is there not someone more recent, or more accessible, from whom neo-liberals gain inspiration, and whose positions we can criticize?

    Robert A Heinlein comes to mind… I enjoy some of his books, but he had an strong libertarian bent and you have to be willing to suspend your distaste for his politics when reading them.

  7. Hmm, you know what they say, you can put a lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Not meaning to say Ms. Ambrose is a pig, just than you cannot hide behind a lipstick and think people believe it is now somehow something different…..

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