23 March 2007

Our man in a Blue Line cab

In the House of Assembly Thursday, opposition House leader Kelvin Parsons asked questions about the role being played by the provincial government's representative in Ottawa in developing a productive relationship with the federal government.

For the record, here's the response from intergovernmental affairs minister John Ottenheimer. The best thing Ottenheimer could come up with was that Fitz travelled around with visiting ministers.

On the back of the government business cards, it must read: "When in Ottawa, ride with Fitz in a Blue Line taxi."
Ottenheimer: I have no idea, Mr. Speaker, where the hon. member gets his information. Dr. Fitzgerald plays a very significant role, a role of importance, representing the Office of the Premier, representing the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, when any minister travels to Ottawa to meet with his or her federal counterpart, he is at all times accompanied by Dr. Fitzgerald. In fact, only two or three weeks ago I travelled to Ottawa. I met with three or four of my federal colleagues, and on each occasion I was accompanied by the good doctor; so, I say to the hon. member, what he is saying is completely irrelevant. It is not in any way representative of the truth. He plays a very significant role of importance on behalf of the people of this Province.
That's got be the most expensive taxi hailer on the planet.

A doctoral degree in history and the guy's a tour guide?

Surely goodness Ottenheimer could give us a better explanation than that. Then he would have avoided Parson's rejoinder - obviously scripted - about Dr. Feelgood's limousine service.

Incidentally, for those who are curious, Fitzgerald's phone number is listed in the government phone directory under the Premier's Office, not the intergovernmental affairs secretariat where bureaucrats normally work.

Fitz's job is obviously all political, so all that business about ducking interviews because he is a public servant are just a tad overdone.