Monday, February 6, 2006

Thoughts on the new Cabinet...

So the new Cabinet is out and all the pundits are talking.

I'm going to throw my two cents in on a number of new Ministers, but not all (some of them are pretty natural fits with no real comment needed).

Government House Leader and Minister of Democratic Reform
Minister Nicholson is an excellent choice for the House Leader post as an experienced parliamentarian. The Democratic Reform portfolio going to an Ontarian should bode well for the success of the reform package.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for ACOA
My first thought is to be happy that Minister MacKay will be spending much time outside of Canada, but on such a good day even I can be positive about this man. He's an able Minister and will represent us well as a firm but fair voice on the world stage.

Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and 2010 Olympics
Like Prime Minister Harper, I have always been impressed with Minister Emerson. It has been said that he is a person who "likes the job, but doesn't like the politics". He served Canada well as Industry Minister, and will continue to serve us well as Minister of International Trade, particularily with a more supportive team behind him.

President of the Treasury Board
This department deals most directly with the public service and thus a Capital Region MP will be well suited to Treasury Board. Minister Baird is also a proven talent in Government, and will be a huge asset to the Conservative team.

Minister of Public Safety
No surprise that Minister Day is in cabinet. I personally believe that the same zero-tolerance attitude towards terrorism and rogue states that may have made him a liability as Foreign Affairs Minister will make him an exceptional Minister of Public Safety. I, for one, feel much safer under Stockwell Day than I did under Anne McLellan.

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Glad to see Minister Strahl in cabinet... I would suspect Peter Milliken is as well, since it clears the way for him to be re-elected as Speaker of the House. Minister Strahl will be an excellent voice for farmers in Canada, and should preside over some very positive changes at the Canadian Wheat Board. I do have to laugh, though, as I suspect that much of what is grown in Minister Strahl's Fraser Valley riding isn't legal.

Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
I am very happy to see Minister Solberg take on this role. Some of the less well-informed in Central Canada may be bothered by the fact that this portfolio didn't go to an urban, Central Canadian MP. But let's look at facts, Alberta is becoming the destination of choice to thousands of skilled immigrants every year and it will be helpful for us to have a voice in this department. Also remember that Minister Solberg's hometown of Brooks is fast becoming a very multi-cultural community, so this file is not foreign to him (pardon the pun).

Minister of the Environment
Again, to the Central Canadian intelligentia this may be a surprise. Its important to note, though, that the Green Party consistantly does well (relatively) in Alberta. Environmental issues are front and centre in Alberta, and a strong voice such as Minister Ambrose's will serve this department well.

Minister of Natural Resources
To me, this is an important portfolio. The Natural Resources file has a great impact on Alberta and its residents. This department has not had a decent Minister since Anne McLellan held the post in the early 90s... and has not had a COMPETENT Minister since the Liberals took office. Minister Lunn is able and eager, and I believe will be a breath of fresh air for the resource community in Canada.

President of the Queen's Privy Council, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for Sport
This was the third biggest surprise of the day. Minister Chong is a very, very intelligent person and will bring much to this portfolio. It will also provide him with an exceptional opportunity to work with and learn from Prime Minister Harper, who will likely be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the Intergovernmental Affairs file.

Minister of Public Works and Government Services
Although the appointment of Minister of Fortier will provide some challenges, having an experienced voice for Montreal was essential and the Prime Minister has obviously come to the same conclusion. Having a Quebecer as Minister of this department will also show that not all federalists are corrupted by power and influence.

Minister of National Revenue and Minister for Western Economic Diversification
I don't have much to say about this, other than i'm really REALLY happy for Carol :)


Diane Ablonczy
This is everyone's big let down. I realized that a lot of very qualified people like Rahim Jaffer, James Rajotte, Jason Kenney would not make it to cabinet simply because of size and regional issues. But I really thought Diane had everything going for her... she was a woman, an able senior critic, an experienced and respected parliamentarian... everything you look for in a Cabinet Minister. I'm not sure what the Prime Minister has planned for her, but he does owe her something big... she sure took one for the team this morning.

Jay Hill
Another experienced and loyal foot soldier, I suspect Jay Hill became victim of regionalization. I suspect that he will also be awarded something in the days to come, although i'm not sure this stings him quite as badly as it does Ms. Ablonczy.

James Moore
I thought James had a lot going for him, particularily given that he was the most high-profile Conservative elected (as a Conservative, anyway) in the Lower Mainland. I speculated that his age may have been a factor, but there are a number of other young Ministers appointed today so that likely wasn't an issue. So what cost James Moore a seat at the table? Two words... David Emerson. And as much as I like and respect James, that's a tough call to argue with. James will maintain a high profile, though, and is most likely being groomed for the next Cabinet. Time is on his side, and there are still many great things to come for him.


  1. Isn't Chilliwack in Strahl's riding? Good farm country there.

  2. Frankly, I was hoping for James Moore to be left off- I've not been that impressed with him; too much the quintessential striver with good pr.

    On the flip side, I'm enormously happy that Gary Lunn made it in- not that I know him personally. He's been an able and vigourous worker within the party and on the opposition benches without becoming a media queen, which strikes me as an unusual accomplishment. He's managed to get reelected in a very difficult riding a great number of times. But the reasons I am most pleased to see him get in are these: he's a short guy, and short guys have a difficult time making it. Secondly, he and I suffered through a mass (didn't know he would be there) during the 2004 election that was not only liturgically abusive (tough on us Catholics) but also took on an exceedingly ill-concealed partisanship for socialists and involved similarly irritating denunciations of conservatives. I expect he knew what he was in for, and went anyway which raised my estimation of the man.

    Hope you're doing well, Blake. Michael's a trifle irritated at Emerson's jumping over to our side (I can't say that there's another Martin Cabinet Minister I'd prefer; maybe Dion?).