Michael Fortier

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This article is about the Canadian politician. For the Oklahoma City Bombing informant, see Michael Fortier (American).
Hon. Michael M. Fortier
Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Summoned on February 27, 2006
Appointed by Stephen Harper
Province Quebec
Senatorial Division Rougemont
Born January 10, 1962 (age 45)
Political party


Profession(s) Financier, lawyer

Michael M. Fortier, PC (born January 10, 1962) is the Canadian Minister of Public Works and Government Services and a Conservative senator from Quebec. As a member of the Canadian Cabinet, he is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and thus has the right to the style The Honourable and the post-nominal designation P.C. for life. He is the brother of former Quebec Liberal Party MNA Margaret Delisle.

Fortier was appointed to Cabinet on 6 February 2006, the day Stephen Harper's minority government took office. A financier and lawyer from Montreal, he had not been elected as a member of the House of Commons at the time he was appointed, nor was he a member of the Senate. Harper announced that Fortier would be appointed to the Senate, but would be expected to step down and run for a seat in the House of Commons at the next election. [1] On February 27, 2006, Fortier was formally summoned to the Senate. This practice is unusual in modern Canada, but there is precedent for such a practice: in 1979, former Prime Minister Joe Clark appointed Quebec Senator Jacques Flynn Minister of Justice because of his lack of representation in that province. 19th century Prime Ministers John Abbott and Mackenzie Bowell served their entire terms in government as Senators.

Harper said that Fortier will represent Montreal in Cabinet. No Montreal-area riding has elected a Conservative or any member of the party's predecessors--the Progressive Conservatives, the Canadian Alliance and the Reform Party--since 1988. Right-of-centre candidates rarely compete, let alone win, in Montreal except in landslides.

Before entering the Cabinet, Fortier was a partner at Ogilvy Renault, a leading Montreal law firm. One of his colleagues was Brian Mulroney. He specialized in securities, mergers and acquisitions. From 1992 to 1996, he managed Ogilvy Renault’s office in London, England. In 1999, he became the Managing Director and Senior Advisor (Eastern Canada) at Crédit Suisse First Boston. In 2004, Fortier became Corporate Financing Director (Quebec) for TD Securities. Two days after his appointment to Cabinet Montreal Gazette columnist Ian McDonald claimed that Fortier “was easily making $1 million a year running the Montreal office of TD Securities.”

He was President of the Progressive Conservatives for a time in the 1990s. He ran for the leadership of the party in 1998 but came in last with 4% of the vote. Fortier was a Progressive Conservative candidate in the Montreal-area riding of Laval West during the 2000 federal election placing fourth. In 2003, he was co-chair of Harper's campaign to lead the new Conservative Party. See Stephen Harper Leadership Team.

Fortier and veteran MP John Reynolds were the co-chairs of the 2006 Conservative campaign.


[edit] Controversy over appointment

Fortier's appointment to Cabinet has drawn considerable controversy, though not quite as intense as that unleashed when Liberal cabinet minister David Emerson crossed the floor and joined Harper's cabinet. The main charge is that Fortier's appointment is a significant departure from past Conservative policy. The Conservatives, and before them Reform and the Alliance, had strongly opposed Senate appointments and unelected Cabinet ministers while in opposition. Opponents of Fortier's appointment also note that in doing so, Harper broke a promise made on Radio-Canada television during the election campaign.

As a Senator, Fortier will not attend Question Period to respond to questions from the opposition parties in the House, even though his department spends several billion dollars a year. However, his parliamentary secretary, James Moore, will answer questions on behalf of him. Fortier will be subject to questioning in the Senate, but the Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party are not represented in that body (one senator associates herself informally with the NDP, but is not a member of the NDP caucus because the NDP opposes the existence of the Senate). The Department of Public Works was at the centre of the sponsorship scandal, and the Conservatives singled the department out for criticism as an example of what they saw as a lack of accountability.

Fortier himself claimed he didn't run for a seat because "I didn't want to run in the election. I had a great career, five young kids, and so it wasn't the right situation for me to run when the election came around. That's just the simple truth." [1]

In his blog, Andrew Coyne commented that "it is a fine thing for a Prime Minister elected on a platform of democratic accountability, who promised he would not appoint anyone who was not elected, either to cabinet or to the Senate, to then turn around and do both at one go." [2] Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail wrote that "with breathtaking insouciance, Prime Minister Stephen Harper jettisoned, or at least delayed, his promise to only elect senators". [3]

However, the Toronto Star's Chantal Hebert defended the appontments of Fortier and Emerson to Cabinet, arguing that that the problem is with the first past the post system which allows entire parts of the country (such as large cities) to be unrepresented in government. For example, the Conservatives did not win any seats in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in the last election, while the Liberals have only won four seats in Edmonton since 1968 and have only elected three MPs from Calgary since Alberta joined Confederation in 1905.

Michael Fortier was loudly booed at the opening ceremonies of the Outgames, the gay community's version of the Olympics games. The Conservative senator's speech was interrupted as he attempted to welcome the estimated crowd of 40,000 at the Olympic Stadium that evening. Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay, who was greeted with sustained applause, intervened (which did not help at all) to urge the crowd to listen "with respect" to the representative of the Canadian government.

[edit] Election

On November 21 2006, Michael Fortier announced that he would seek election to the House of Commons in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges in the next federal election. The opposition parties pressured him to run in the by-election on November 27 in Repentigny. However, Fortier repeated his original promise to run in the next general election.[4]

28th Ministry - Government of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Post
Predecessor Office Successor
Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services
(from 6-Feb-2006)

[edit] References

  1. ^ Cabinet includes defector and senator-to-be, CBC News, February 6, 2006
  • Fortier discusses his appointment on Mike Duffy Live (following weather report) February 14, 2006:


  • Federal minister Fortier booed at Outgames opening ceremony in Montreal [6]

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Shirley Maheu
Rougemont Senate division
Succeeded by

Members of the current Canadian Cabinet Flag of Canada
Ambrose | Baird | Bernier | Blackburn | Cannon | Clement | Day | Emerson | Finley | Flaherty | Fortier | Harper | Hearn | LeBreton | Lunn | MacKay | Nicholson | O'Connor | Oda | Prentice | Skelton | Solberg | Strahl | Thompson | Toews | Van Loan | Verner
Secretaries of State
Guergis | Hill | Kenney | Paradis | Ritz
In other languages