The sacking of defence minister Art Eggleton this week was as swift as it was sweet. Although the lacklustre former mayor rode the big red machine to the top, he never had the right stuff to stay there. Here's the face of a career pockmarked with political failings.
The hair that says "bed head -- I've been dozing on the job."
How else to explain Eggs's disappearing act all these years in Ottawa? He's been a complete dud for Toronto, playing the violin while the city's infrastructure burned, even while he held the purse strings as Treasury Board president.
THE BRAIN that's been missing in action more times than anyone cares to remember.
As defence minister, Eggleton did nothing when it was revealed in 99 that Canadian soldiers were exposed to an anthrax vaccine that posed life-threatening risks. Ditto for sick peacekeeping troops returning from Croatia whose medical files then mysteriously disappeared. We won't mention the $750 million spent on second-hand subs while underpaid Canuck soldiers went to food banks to feed their families.
The forehead that launched a thousand miscues.
The Grits wanted bland when they appointed Eggs defence minister after the Somalia scandal. Instead, they got a bumbler who couldn't keep his pants on and garnered more mentions in gossip rag Frank than photo ops riding around in tanks. An embarrassing attempt to keep the details of his divorce from public knowledge -- Eggs sought a publication ban on court documents -- should have been the first clue that judgment was not his strongest suit.
The eyes that look like they're perpetually caught, à la Bambi, in the headlights of an oncoming freight train.
Take, for instance, that April 99 press conference where Eggs was caught off guard by news that NATO bombs had just claimed their first civilian casualties in Yugoslavia. We learned then that the Department of National Defence (DND) was getting most of its info about Canada's role in military operations there from CNN. That Eggleton is the second-longest-serving defence minister in Canadian history tells us just how much the boys at DND loved having the patsy around. Anybody with a backbone would have been bumped pronto.
THE GLASSES that give the illusion Eggleton is a man of vision, when in reality he's so shortsighted he can't see past his nose.
He leaped at the first opportunity to move from Toronto, where he was the big cheese (or is that cheesy?), to Ottawa, where he's toiled in obscurity when he hasn't been swimming in scandal. We got our first whiff of that in 99, when it came to light that Eggs, as mayor of Toronto, ignored a warning by then Toronto auditor Jack Rabinowitz to look into some $800,000 in questionable expenditures in support of T.O.'s 96 Olympic bid.
The nose that can only smell which way the political wind is blowing.
Eggs the shoo-in was so petrified of losing votes from the sizable Jewish community after Canada's support for a UN resolution condemning Israeli violence that he quickly had his office send out flyers with photos of himself sucking up to then leader Ehud Barak and right-wing hawk Benjamin Netanyahu. During the same election, he promised $1 million in federal funds to save nine subsidized daycare centres, but never delivered. How distinguished.
The mouth that never speaks -- or says anything that can be construed as remotely intelligent.
The press core in Ottawa could never figure out what Eggs, one of the least quotable MPs, was saying. When he wasn't raising eyebrows by saying something completely incomprehensible, he was busy reversing himself. We count five switcheroos on the sending of ground troops to Afghanistan. Then there was the embarrassing flip-flop over Canadian troops taking Al Qaeda prisoners that landed Eggs in the middle of a parliamentary inquiry. He denied deliberately misleading Parliament. The verdict? He's not a liar, just a doofus.
THE CHIN that says, "I'm a sucker. Please punch me."
And so Chretien did last week, in all probability ending a political career, when it was revealed that ole Eggs tossed an old flame a $36,500 bone, er, contract without tender to study post-traumatic stress syndrome. The PM likes his ministers thick as a brick, as long as they're earnest and loyal. Embarrassment he won't tolerate.
With research assistance by Nadia Daniell