Lawrence Cannon

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The Honourable
Lawrence Cannon
PC
Lawrence Cannon on March 29, 2010.jpg
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
October 30, 2008 – May 18, 2011
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by David Emerson
Succeeded by John Baird
Canadian Ambassador to France
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 10, 2012
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Marc Lortie
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
In office
February 6, 2006 – October 30, 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Jean Lapierre
Succeeded by John Baird
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Pontiac
In office
January 23, 2006 – March 26, 2011
Preceded by David Smith
Succeeded by Mathieu Ravignat
Member of the Quebec National Assembly
for La Peltrie
In office
December 2, 1985 – September 12, 1994
Preceded by Pauline Marois
Succeeded by Michel Côté
Personal details
Born (1947-12-06) December 6, 1947 (age 67)
Quebec City, Quebec
Political party Conservative Party (2003–present)
Other political
affiliations
Liberal Party (Before 2003)
Spouse(s) Christine Donoghue
Alma mater University of Montreal
Laval University
Profession Businessman
Communications consultant
Political assistant

Lawrence Cannon, PC (born December 6, 1947) is a Canadian politician from Quebec and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former Quebec lieutenant. In early 2006, he was made the Minister of Transport. On October 30, 2008 he relinquished oversight of Transport, and was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was defeated in the 2011 federal election by the NDP's Mathieu Ravignat.[1] He was named Canada's ambassador to France in May 2012.[2]

History[edit]

Genealogy[edit]

Cannon

Cannon is the son of government lawyer Louis Cannon and Quebec television broadcast pioneer Rosemary "Posie" Power, and the grandson of Lucien Cannon and Charles Gavan Power. He is also the grand-nephew of Lawrence Arthur Dumoulin Cannon, a long-time Liberal politician and Supreme Court judge. He is the great grandson of Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, defender of Louis Riel and former Senior Minister in Laurier's cabinet. He is of Irish and French Canadian descent.

The extended Cannon family has had strong regional and national political influence in Canada for over a century and is considered to be influential as one of Canada's hereditary ruling class families, members having served in positions as lawyers, judges, Supreme Court judges, senators, ministers of defence, solicitors general, and members of parliament. They have had large influence in the national resource industries, as "barons" in the lumber industry particularly, as well as in broadcasting.

The most famous member of the family was Cannon's maternal grandfather, Charles "Chubby" Power, a confidante and Minister of National Defence for Air to Governor General John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

Early life[edit]

Cannon grew up fluently bilingual; his father was francophone while his mother was anglophone. He was educated at French speaking public junior and high schools.

He graduated in political science from the Université de Montréal in 1971; and then worked for Liberal Premier Robert Bourassa as correspondence secretary, leaving in 1976 for higher academic studies. Cannon received an MBA from Université Laval in 1979. He worked then in private sector as a financial analyst for Société de développement industriel until 1981; and then as head of Les Radiateurs Roy ltée from September 1981, to December 1985.

Cannon has been a long-time member of the Knights of Columbus.[3]

Provincial political career[edit]

Cannon then was elected in 1985 as a member of the Quebec Liberal Party to the National Assembly of Quebec for the provincial riding of La Peltrie; and then served as Parliamentary Secretary: notably to the Minister of Foreign Trade and Technological Development,and then Tourism. From October 1990 to January 1994 he was minister for communications, and implemented the 911 emergency system as well as the Privacy Act within Quebec. He was also active with the federal Liberals supporting Sheila Copps (who as well later became Deputy Prime Minister of Canada) in her attempt to win the federal 1990 Liberal leadership election won instead by Jean Chrétien.

Private sector work[edit]

Cannon worked in private industry as vice-president of Unitel; now AT&T Canada Corp. during the AT&T takeover of the Canadian firm; and in other concerns between 1994 and 2001 primarily in the field of information technologies. Cannon then remarried; and took an interest in Quebec local politics building a new constituency.

Constituency building in local politics[edit]

Cannon was elected as councillor for the city of Gatineau in 2001, representing Hull's Val-Tétreau District, under mayor Yves Ducharme. He served as president of the Société de Transport de l'Outaouais from January 2002 to November 2005, while at the same time he was appointed president of the Association du transport urbain du Québec. He had an especial sympathy for solving transport problems in Gatineau by road building rather than public transit approaches. During his mandate, the STO developed a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) project called "Rapibus", which is still pending. His association and ownership of Groupe Cannon and Associates, a consulting company in telecommunications, has received little attention, and this ownership is expected to be put in a blind trust as is usual in federal politics.

Foreign policy initiatives[edit]

Cannon travelled extensively in Europe and the Americas both in and out of public life. In 2001, Cannon was appointed to the Board of the World Commerce Institute, and then as President and General Manager of AmeriContact for the Quebec City Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Present activities[edit]

Lawrence Cannon at a June 2008 announcement on Border Safety.

Although Cannon and his family have historically supported the federal Liberals, he switched to the Conservative Party of Canada in the early 2000s. At the time, his switch to the Conservative Party raised eyebrows among the political class and the media, which generally attributed the move to his inability to make an impression with the Liberal Party. On September 16, 2005, he was named deputy chief of staff and deputy executive director of the Conservative Party. He was also named as Quebec lieutenant to party leader Stephen Harper.

He successfully ran as a Conservative candidate in the riding of Pontiac in the 2006 federal election, beating incumbent Liberal M.P. David Smith. Winning with 33.68% of the vote, Cannon gained support from traditional Liberal voters. The Liberals had held the riding and its predecessors for all but nine years since 1935, and the Conservative candidate had finished a distant third in 2004 with 22.15% of the vote.

On February 6, 2006, he was sworn in as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. This portfolio includes Transport Canada, Infrastructure Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agency, the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and 16 Crown corporations.[4]

Many pundits had predicted that Cannon would also be named Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, but Harper chose not to retain that office. However, Cannon was first on the list of ministers designated to fill in for Harper if he is unable to perform his duties, making him Deputy Prime Minister in practice if not in name. This was further emphasized when Cannon seconded the pro forma bill to start the first session of the 39th Canadian Parliament; the bill is introduced before the House takes the Speech from the Throne under consideration to maintain the right of the House to consider matters other than those directed to it by the crown. This bill is normally proposed by the Prime Minister and seconded by either the Deputy Prime Minister or the Government House Leader.[5]

Following the 2008 federal election, Cannon was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Cannon was one of the higher-ranking Red Tories in the Harper cabinet.

He has denied diplomat Richard Colvin's claim that Afghan prisoners transferred from the Canadian forces to the Afghan police were tortured.[6]

Cannon was defeated in the 2011 election by NDP challenger Mathieu Ravignat, winning only 29.5 percent of the vote. His place as Minister of Foreign Affairs was taken by John Baird.

On May 10, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Cannon as ambassador to France.

Controversial remarks[edit]

Cannon and his campaign have been noted for gaffes and poor responses to off the cuff questions regarding policy.[7]

On September 18, 2008, during the 40th Canadian federal election, Cannon was campaigning in Maniwaki, Quebec, when a group of protesters from the divided native community of Barriere Lake showed up to outline their demands. After Cannon left, Cannon's assistant Darlene Lannigan said to protestor Norman Matchewan, "If you behave and you're sober and there's no problems and if you don't do a sit down and whatever, I don't care." She then added: "One of them showed up the other day and was drinking."[8]

In April 2009, Cannon falsely suggested that Omar Khadr had built explosives to attack Canadian soldiers.[7]

In June 2009, after asked whether the Canadian government will "choose not to abandon Ronald Smith, a Canadian who has on death row in Montana for over 25 years." Cannon aswered "(...) I will be very clear on this, clemency is not an obligation. It must be earned. We will study each appeal for clemency individually.[9]

Abousfian Abdelrazik[edit]

Lawrence Cannon stands next to Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive (left) and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at an emergency relief summit on the 2010 Haiti earthquake in Montreal.

In Abdelrazik v. Canada (Foreign Affairs), 2009 FC 580 (CanLII), Justice Zinn of the Federal Court of Canada found at para 153 of the judgment that Cannon and Canada violated Abousfian Abdelrazik's constitutionally guaranteed right to return to Canada from the Sudan by failing to issue an emergency passport. In so ruling the Court states at para 152:[10]

In my view, where a citizen is outside Canada, the Government of Canada has a positive obligation to issue an emergency passport to that citizen to permit him or her to enter Canada; otherwise, the right guaranteed by the Government of Canada in subsection 6(1) of the Charter is illusory. Where the Government refuses to issue that emergency passport, it is a prima facie breach of the citizen’s Charter rights unless the Government justifies its refusal pursuant to section 1 of the Charter.

The Court found that on April 3, 2009, Cannon refused an emergency passport to Abdelrazik without observing any of the guidelines established by his own department. Justice Zinn also found that "Had it been necessary to determine whether the breach was done in bad faith, I would have had no hesitation making that finding on the basis of the record before me." [10]

On September 21, 2009, Abdelrazik sued Cannon for $3-million alleging misfeaseance in public office, intentional infliction of mental suffering, and violation of Abdelrazik's constitutional rights under ss 6, 7 & 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[11][12] On August 30, 2010, the Federal Court refused a motion by Canadian government lawyers seeking to prevent the suit against Cannon from proceeding.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Cannon+loses+newcomer+major+upset/4714916/story.html
  2. ^ Clark, Campbell (May 10, 2012). "Harper rewards defeated minister Lawrence Cannon with Paris post". Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ Ottawa, The (2008-10-15). "Cannon cruises to re-election in Pontiac". Canada.com. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Journals (No. 002)". .parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 2010-07-05. 
  6. ^ Fisher, Matthew (November 19, 2009). "Cannon denies all Canadian detainees tortured by Afghans". Vancouver Sun (Canwest News Service). 
  7. ^ a b Woods, Allan. Toronto Star, Key Minister goes MIA as anger grows, August 14, 2009
  8. ^ "Tories apologize for 'sober' remark to aboriginal protester". The Globe and Mail, September 18, 2008.
  9. ^ [2].
  10. ^ a b [3] Abdelrazik v. Canada (Foreign Affairs), 2009 FC 580 (CanLII)
  11. ^ [4] Statement of Claim of Bdelrazik
  12. ^ Paul Koring, "Abdelrazik sues Ottawa for $27-million," The Globe and Mail Thursday, Sep. 24, 2009 12:00AM EDT.
  13. ^ "Abdelrazik gets OK to sue Canada". CBC News. September 1, 2010. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 

External links[edit]