Tuesday, October 25, 2005

John Weir_Spinning the Web

Pondering Politics

I am amazed and curious as to how very ordinary individuals engineer their way to the inner core of political parties, government and business. These people apparently have at least one skill you just have to admire and that is their success at working the system. How they do it is a mystery I have never solved.

Please consider the case of John Weir. It is my understanding that he first landed in Ottawa in 1980 as a research assistant to a Progressive Conservative M.P. from Winnipeg. When Grant Devine became Premier of Saskatchewan in 1982 John Weir made contact with an individual in Saskatchewan about employment with the Devine administration. The contact delivered and Weir became employed with one of the Devine government ministers.

Weir played it smart and became close to Dave Tkachuk, now Senator Tkachuk, and Don Pringle who were two of Grant Devine’s closest advisors. This landed him the initial position of assistant principal secretary and later principal secretary to Grant Devine.

The Grant Devine government was defeated in the 1991 provincial election, but John Weir landed on his feet. He was then apparently compensated by the Progressive Conservative caucus to fend off the pending Tory fraud scandal. The exact value of the compensation may never be known. What we do know is that he failed in this task. Numerous conservatives were charged, convicted and sentenced in what became the largest political scandal in the history of Saskatchewan.

Stay with me. Follow the trail. John Weir then ran for elected office in the 1995 provincial election as a conservative candidate in a Regina South constituency. He had no hope of winning, but he didn’t run to win. He ran to pad his resume and it worked as shortly thereafter he was hired as executive assistant to the Minister of Education in the Mike Harris government in Ontario. John Weir continued to work the system and landed a position as director of caucus relations as a member of Premier Harris’s office staff. He went on to become principal secretary to Premier Harris.

Now consider the following quote from the Hill Times.

“Mr. Weir, who currently is president of Enterprise Canada Consultants in Toronto, started to advise Ms. Stronach recently. He started his political career in the early 1980s when he came to the Hill to work as a research assistant, but soon moved to Saskatchewan to work for the provincial minister of education and the premier's office at that time. In 1995, Mr. Weir was hired as chief of staff to the Ontario minister of education and in 1997 joined Mr. Harris's office first as director of caucus relations, but later on was promoted to the position of principal secretary.”

John Weir has spent his life spinning his political web across this county. Belinda Stronach is the latest to get tangled in his web. He apparently succeeded in convincing her that he is now an expert on national politics. Why is he not advising a conservative like Stephan Harper? Harper needs all the help he can get regardless of their qualifications. Why not John Weir?

Now here is the kicker. Remember when Harper refused to let Weir’s former boss, Grant Devine, run in the last federal election and later stripped him of his conservative membership. It was many of Devine’s former confidants that urged him to run for the conservative nomination in Souris-Moose Mountain that is now represented by a conservative Member of Parliament, Ed Komarnicki.

The latest speculation is that Weir may now hold the key for Grant Devine to again run in Souris-Moose Mountain, but this time as a liberal. Keep in mind that Grant Devine was a liberal before being dragged into Saskatchewan conservative politics. If Devine were (Weir) to face off against Komarnicki I would bet on Devine to win as a liberal in a right wing riding.

The success achieved by the likes of John Weir is a mystery. He was never elected, but has admirably achieved the art of winning on the success of others. John Weir, I congratulate you on your success, but I am still amazed and curious. What a web, what a story!

Note: John’s wife has her own web. She is now CEO of the Whitby, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. What a team!

Larry Birkbeck