OTTAWA - Sheila Copps, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and a candidate for the Liberal leadership, risks losing her Cabinet post if she continues to snipe at ministerial colleagues on sensitive issues, a senior government insider said yesterday.
The source, who was familiar with conversations at yesterday's special Cabinet meeting in Toronto, said Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, made it "very clear" that Ms. Copps' criticism of Anne McLellan, the Minister of Health, over the government's low-profile handling of the SARS outbreak was an unacceptable breach of Cabinet solidarity.
Asked whether the Prime Minister's criticism of Ms. Copps amounted to a warning, the source said, "Yes, it did."
A final warning? "Well, let's cross that bridge when we get to it.... Let's hope it's not necessary [to warn her again.]"
Persistent feuding between Ms. Copps and Ms. McLellan over the federal response to SARS came to a head on Monday, when Ms. Copps lashed out at Ms. McLellan on CBC Newsworld.