A list of every ministerial resignation in the Canadian Parliament since 1867. My personal highlights:

  • 1978 — FOX, Francis, Solicitor General of Canada — Liberal — Signed the husband’s name on a hospital document to procure an abortion for a woman with whom he had had an affair.
  • 1976 — SHARP, Mitchell William — Privy Council — Liberal — Wants to make room for younger ministers.
  • 1968 — LAMARSH, Julia Verlyn (Judy) — Secretary of State of Canada — Liberal — She would never serve in a Trudeau cabinet.
  • 1963 — HARKNESS, Douglas Scott — National Defence — Progressive Conservative — Difference of opinion on a matter of principle concerning the Government’s defence policy, specifically the nuclear arms question.
  • 1920 — MEWBURN, Sydney Chilton — Militia and Defence — Unionist — With the termination of the war and the task to carry out the problem of demobilization almost completed; “feels that his contract has terminated and that the administration of the department should be handed over to someone else.”
  • 1907 — EMMERSON, Henry Robert — Railways and Canals — Liberal — Accused of being in a hotel in the city of Montreal with a person of ill-repute. Resigns not to embarrass the Prime Minister.

By the way, I do think that Hon. Ralph Goodale should resign. I have every reason to think he’s a stand-up guy, and I think it’s conceivable that there was, in fact, no leak from his department. But while his Ministry is under the cloud of criminal investigation, I think it’s only proper that he step aside, if only to remove any suggestion of impropriety as the investigation proceeds. I don’t think there’s any shame in resignation, I simply think it’s The Right Thing To Do.


Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on December 30, 2005 - 20:43 Permalink

When the head of a human rights commission refers to me (collectively along with anyone else who opposed the war in Iraq) as “peace at any cost pacifists” resignation would have been the Right Thing To Do but I’ve come to understand that I shouldn’t ask him to do that. A senior official with his foot in his mouth on a matter fairly close to his job cannot be reasonably asked to leave but his integrity weighs in the balance should he decide to stay.

For Goodale to resign in the middle of an election would be elevating the issue of Ministerial Responsibility well beyond the point to which numerous others have given it creedence over the past two decades. If there were no election a “lateral aerobesque” (out for the duration and then back in) would be in order.

I (and 300 other Islanders) met Goodale a dozen or so years back as part of my Federation of Agriculture stint. That was the one and only time I have ever heard a politician introduced wherin his entire introduction was focused on credibility and integrity. He seemed genuinely embarassed by the glowing intro but also had a look on his face that suggested he’d become used to the embarassment. Since then I’ve read numerous pieces about him which have focused on the same issue and never that he was in any way lacking. I was rather astonished when this news broke and can only imagine that there are Liberals in his office that simply do Business As Usual — Liberal Style.

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on December 30, 2005 - 20:59 Permalink

It is precisely *because* Goodale is a man of such integrity that he should resign: his actions would be a beacon to others, in future, of less stellar character.

Andrew Chisholm's picture
Andrew Chisholm on December 30, 2005 - 23:41 Permalink

… Martha Stewart is also an “upstanding” person.

Kevin O'Brien's picture
Kevin O'Brien on December 31, 2005 - 21:54 Permalink

If Goodale could resign _and_ his resignation would be seen as an act stemming from integrity then he should. He knows, though, that during an election it wouldn’t be viewed that way by anyone with access to a microphone (other than by Liberals — who’ve blown most of their credibility).

It’s only pragmatism that prevents me from agreeing with you whole-heartedly; if it were me I’d resign regardless of personal/political consequences. But then I’d also have resigned if I had maligned over half the population of PEI while supposedly upholding their rights in a position of responsibility.