Uncertainty continued to surround Ottawa's position on a key element in the search for peace in the Middle East, as Bernier wrapped up his first visit to the region.
The confusion on the potentially explosive issue of Israeli settlements arose Sunday when Bernier was twice asked during a West Bank news conference whether Ottawa – which officially opposes new settlement activity by Israel – makes a distinction between housing construction in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
Both times, the Canadian minister pointedly ignored the question. The second time it was asked, he abruptly ended the news conference and left the room.
One of two things - either he didn't dare answer the question because he ran out of PMO-approved script, or the minister was not briefed on one of the key issues relating to Israel.
In the first case, Bernier's not being an effective minister, merely a puppet for whatever partisan crap the PMO wants to throw around. In the second case, either the minister or his advisors (or both) completely missed the point in briefings before you go into a politically volatile region.
"Traditionally, there hasn't been any ambiguity in our policy," a Canadian expert on the Middle East told the Star yesterday. "There might be some ambiguity now."
So, after Gary Lunn's massive CNSC bungle, Mr. Bernier making a royal cock-up of his trip to Israel and Helena Guergis' bone-headed comments, it's becoming clear that the Conservatives are in serious need of new wood for cabinet making. Having fired so many of his original frontline ministers, and turfing out of caucus anyone who dares question his all-knowing wisdom, Harper's left scraping the bottom of the barrel for ministers - and hoping that they don't screw up "too badly".