This week Cheryl Gallant, MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, labelled her NATO briefing binder “Not Wanted on the Voyage” in the departure lounge at the Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. In the olden days, you would mark a bag or trunk “Not Wanted on the Voyage” when you couldn’t take it with you. In 1984 Timothy Findley published one of Canada’s finest literary works with that same title. Ms. Gallant, regrettably, did not follow in this same tradition.
Enroute to a NATO conference in Lithuania, Ms. Gallant was to head to Canada’s delegation to this event. She is a member of the House Standing Committee on National Defence—a post she has held for some time and regularly reminds her constituents of. Having insulted a good swatch of Canadian society, I suppose it’s the Europeans and Americans Gallant can irk now.
According to iPolitics, the binder was found, suspiciously and ironically by Sheila Copps (former Liberal Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister). Now it appears that none of the documents were top secret (thankfully it appears that she remembered to take the nuclear launch codes) however, it was sensitive information about our foreign policy and national defence. Her office, normally mum to all questions, complaints, and inquiries, actually seems to have responded. Really, we should be considerate to her; this is one of those accidents that can happen to anyone as you try juggling your purse, your carry-on, your ticket and passport, your phone, and a 200 page government binder. Plus a binder which is 200 pages thick can easily be forgotten since it’s not that much bigger than a pocket paperback. No one has explained why she was reading a government binder somewhere as public as an airport lounge; then again it’s good to see people reading anywhere even if there isn’t reliable evidence to say that they actually were reading the documents.
Is this a mountain made out of a mole hill; Sheila Copps making a stink about a minor Conservative screw-up? Could this be further evidence of Ms. Gallant’s ineptitude? By far the most significant question we must ask of course is: given she left the binder at the departure gate, what on earth did she read on the flight to Lithuania (or at least to the connecting airport)? Perhaps she had a copy of Findley’s “Not Wanted on the Voyage” among her assorted carry-on items. It really is a terrific book.