Josée Verner

Josée Verner bigraphy, stories - Canadian politician

Josée Verner : biography

December 30, 1959 –

Josée Verner, PC (born December 30, 1959) is a Canadian politician. She represented the electoral district of Louis-Saint-Laurent in the Canadian House of Commons from 2006 to 2011 as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. She also served as a minister in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper serving as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie. On May 18, 2011, it was announced that she would be appointed to the Canadian Senate following the loss of her seat in the 2011 federal election, and she was she formally appointed on June 13, 2011.


Running again in the 2006 election, she was elected with 57.68% of the vote in Louis-Saint-Laurent, defeating Bernard Cleary, and heading a wave of Conservative victories that swept the Quebec City area.

On February 6, 2006, she was sworn into Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet as Minister of International Co-operation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages.

Her parliamentary secretary is Ted Menzies, who received some criticism for having La Francophonie as his portfolio while he does not speak French. It was subsequently specified that he was appointed parliamentary secretary to Josée Verner for his experience as opposition critic for International Co-operation rather than for La Francophonie.


After losing her seat in the House of Commons in the 2011 election, Verner was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Canadian Senate on May 18, 2011.

Political career

A member of the provincial Action démocratique du Québec and the federal Conservative Party of Canada, Verner also once worked as a political staffer in Quebec City in the Robert Bourassa government. Verner has spent almost 20 years in the communications and public service fields.

She was a candidate for the Conservatives in the 2004 federal election and finished second with 31% of the vote, the party’s best Quebec showing, in a three-way race that was won by the Bloc Québécois’s Bernard Cleary. This was contrasted with her victory in a two-way race in 2006.

Looking to boost the party’s profile in Quebec, and hoping to make Verner a viable candidate in future elections, Conservative leader Stephen Harper took the unusual step of naming Verner to the opposition shadow cabinet even though she was not a Member of Parliament. She served as critic for the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and the Minister responsible for La Francophonie, both posts then held by fellow Quebecker Jacques Saada. She was also appointed chair of the Quebec Conservative caucus which at the time was made up of herself and Conservative senators.