January 10, 2007
The Wajid Khan saga...
Answer expected soon on whether PM's Liberal aide will cross floor to Conservatives
January 04, 2007
OTTAWA - The strange, dual-political citizenship of Wajid Khan - the Liberal MP serving since last summer as "special adviser" to the Conservative prime minister on the Middle East and Afghanistan - may be coming to an end this week.
But whether Khan intends to stay as a Liberal or cross the floor to the Conservatives became more of a mystery yesterday when neither he nor the Prime Minister's Office wanted to answer any questions about the political future of the MP for Mississauga-Streetsville.
"You are best to go to Khan directly on this," said Carolyn Stewart Olsen, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
"I will not comment on speculations and rumours," said Khan.
Nor would the PMO, on the eve of today's expected cabinet shuffle, answer questions about whether Khan had been approached to join the Tory caucus, as has been expected.
The mystery may not be allowed to last for too long, though. New Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is due to sit down with Khan by the end of this week.
A spokesperson for Dion said yesterday that the discussion would include questions about the MP's future political allegiance.
"He is scheduled to come in and meet Stéphane later on this week. ... I'm sure it's something that will be addressed when they meet," said André Fortin, Dion's spokesperson.
Khan was named last August to be Harper's special adviser on the Middle East and Afghanistan, even though he reportedly made clear he'd serve the Tory PM while remaining part of the Liberal caucus.
Some Liberal MPs protested, arguing that Harper had effectively planted a "spy" inside the Liberal caucus.
Since then, Khan made a trip to the Middle East and he said yesterday he had recently submitted a partial report on the trip to the Prime Minister's Office.
"I enjoyed writing the Middle East portion of the report for the Prime Minister, which he received recently," Khan said in a brief email.
Yet no one inside the government could confirm the existence of that report; in fact, there were conflicting reports of whether it did indeed exist.
In this precarious minority Parliament, even one MP's defection can make a significant difference.
The Conservatives have 124 seats; the Liberals 102; the Bloc Québécois has 51; and the New Democrats have 29. There are two independents.
Some Liberal insiders say they're sure that Khan has been waiting to make his move when he can exact a maximum price for crossing the floor - like Belinda Stronach did when she left the Tories to get a cabinet seat in Paul Martin's government in the spring of 2005 or, more recently, as David Emerson did when he left the Liberals after last year's election to join Harper's government as international trade minister.
Copyright 2007 - The Toronto Star
From the Prime Minister's Web Site - (http://www.pm.gc.ca/)
WAJID KHAN JOINS CONSERVATIVE CAUCUS
January 5, 2007
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today welcomed Wajid Khan, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, as a Conservative member of Canada’s New Government.
“Despite our past partisan differences, I have always been impressed with Wajid Khan’s intelligence, inspiring life story and his obvious love of our country,” said Mr. Harper. “I would like to formally welcome him to the Conservative Caucus.”
The former Liberal MP volunteered to serve as the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Affairs last June. As they worked together, the Prime Minister said, “both of us began to realize that politically, we have a lot in common.”
“I have come to admire the Prime Minister and his government over the last year,” said Mr. Khan. “Eventually I came to the conclusion that my ideals and priorities, and the interests of my constituents, would be better served if I sat as a Conservative MP.”
Prior to entering public life, Mr. Khan was a successful entrepreneur and community leader in the Peel Region. Born in Pakistan, he served as a fighter pilot with Pakistan’s Air Force before immigrating to Canada in 1974.
Prime Minister Harper said Mr. Khan would continue to advise him on the Middle East and Central Asia, and assist the government on outreach to new Canadians.
Biographical notes follow.
Wajid Khan was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006.
Mr. Khan has served on the House of Commons Standing Committees on Canadian Heritage and National Defence and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He has also chaired the Canada-Croatia Parliamentary Group and served on the executive of Parliamentary Groups for Poland, India and Pakistan.
In June 2006 Mr. Khan became Special Advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs.
Mr. Khan embodies Canada’s potential through his entrepreneurial success and commitment to community involvement. Before immigrating to Canada, Mr. Khan served for eight years as an officer and pilot in Pakistan’s air force. He and his wife settled in Toronto in 1974, where he established himself as a successful businessman. By 1990, Mr. Khan was president and CEO of one of the largest automobile showrooms in Canada.
Mr. Khan has also played an active leadership role amongst the city’s cultural communities. He has been a strong supporter of community charities and a sponsor of several children’s hockey teams.
Mr. Khan lives with his wife Tasnim, a medical doctor, and his son Omar.
From: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Ontario MP Khan leaves Liberals to join Tories
Last Updated: Friday, January 5, 2007
Ontario MP Wajid Khan is leaving the Liberals to join the Tories, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Friday.
"I am proud to announce today that Wajid Khan, the member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, is joining our Conservative caucus," Harper told a news conference on Friday, with Khan at his side.
"I believe that this gesture made by Mr. Khan is a positive message for all Canadians - new Canadians as well as Canadians who have been here for a long time: In our party, there is room for all Canadians," he said.
Khan, formerly a pilot in the Pakistani military, told reporters that while "politics makes strange bedfellows … nothing about my decision to join the Conservative caucus feels strange to me.
"The best leader for Canada is the man who now has the job, Mr. Harper," he said.
As a Liberal MP, Khan has served Harper since August as a consultant on the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion had reportedly told Khan to choose his political loyalties, saying it was "bizarre" that a Liberal MP could serve as a consultant to the Conservative prime minister.
Dion posted a statement on the Liberal party website after the defection that expressed "regret" at receiving word of Khan's decision.
"I was never comfortable with Mr. Khan serving as an adviser to a Conservative Prime Minister, as Mr. Khan has done since August of last year," Dion's statement said.
Defection shifts balance of power in Parliament
Khan's move across the floor gives the Tories 125 seats, leaving the Liberals with 101. The minority government will now need the support of 29 opposition MPs - the same number the NDP has - to pass legislation in the 308-seat Parliament.
Khan said he had called Dion to inform him of the decision and said he has received support for his decision from the president and members of his riding association.
In an interview with the CBC following the defection, riding association president Khalid Sagheer said Khan "is my friend, I support him and I will continue to support him."
Asked whether backing Khan would mean switching party memberships himself, Sagheer said "that decision will come in due course."
"I agree with him and my own personal opinion is that the Liberal party has been taking us for granted - immigrants that have worked and supported the party so much, it's been so far only a one-way street," Sagheer said.
Khan offered services to Harper in August
Harper said Dion had pushed Khan to make the decision.
Khan "wasn't asking the Conservative Party [to join], but in the end the choice was made by Mr. Dion," Harper said. "Mr. Dion said Mr. Khan … couldn't be a true Liberal and participate positively in the government of Canada."
"When I'm given a choice … between a political party and my country, I will always choose Canada and that's why I chose the Conservative government," said Khan.
Earlier on Friday, Dion told CBC News that he was confident Khan was a loyal Liberal and that there was "no indication" a defection was coming.
Harper said "the first phase" occurred when Khan first approached him in August to collaborate with the government on Mideast issues, after police foiled an alleged Toronto bomb plot and arrested 17 Muslim suspects.
"He contacted me directly and offered to help in any way he could," Harper said. "The more we worked together, the more both of us began to realize that politically, we have an awful lot in common."
Fellow Liberals questioned allegiances
Fellow Liberal MPs at the time questioned how Khan would balance his allegiance to the party with his new role as an adviser to the prime minister, but Khan noted that he had sought approval from then Liberal leader Bill Graham to take on the job.
During his time as an adviser to the government, Khan said he felt the Liberal party seemed to be out of step with his ideas for foreign policy and family values.
Khan, 60, immigrated to Canada in 1974, emerging in Toronto as a successful businessman and a prominent voice for the Pakistani and Muslim communities. He left the Liberal caucus on Aug. 11, though he continued to sit as a Liberal.
Harper shuffled his cabinet on Thursday, moving several key ministers into new roles, and expanding the number of MPs in cabinet.
In the 2006 federal election, Khan defeated Conservative candidate Raminder Gill by 5,792 votes, taking 46 per cent of the vote.
Copyright 2007 - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation