Thoughts on the Harper Cabinet

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V. Jara
Thoughts on the Harper Cabinet


V. Jara

Why did Gary Lunn get demoted to Minister for Sport and why did the Natural Resources portfolio move to Halton, Ontario (Lisa Raitt)?

I assumed the portfolio would stay in a resource rich place and I think the assumption that John Duncan might be made minister helped him beat NDP incumbent Catherine Bell this time.

Also, I consider the following ministers rather weak:
# Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
# Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)
# Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour
# James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
# Josйe Verner, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie
# Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women)
# Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
# Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Gerry Ritz has no cred, Stockwell Day is in over his head, same for Moore and the Quйbec ministers, Rona Ambrose is a grating person who doesn't do her homework and could surely cause some flare-ups.

[url=]Here's the full list[/url]


Promotions / 'winners': Cannon, Clement, Kenny, Moore, Hill, Van Loan, Aglukkaq, Raitt, Shea, Merrifield, Yelich, Fletcher, Goodyear, Ashfield, Lebel, Kent.

Laterals: Prentice, Day, Baird, Guergis, Blackburn, Finley.

Demotions / 'losers': Ambrose, O'Connor, Lunn, Verner.

Surprises: Aglukkaq in Health, Kent not getting something more important, Prentice in Environment, Ablonczy not getting a full portfolio.

Another surprise: BC delivers five additional Tory seats and some major gains in suburban Vancouver and maybe Vancouver itself (recount to resume tomorrow), but loses a minister. By comparison, Manitoba notched up only one additional seat but got rewarded with an additional minister.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: ghoris ]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Gerry Rtitz stays in agriculture because he's dead set against the Wheat Board, something Harper wants gone. Prentice in environment - his backyard is the oilpatch, for goodness sakes!

This looks like a government daring to be voted down, again in quest of an elusive majority.


If Ritz is still the agricultural minister, I would sent the attack dogs right on him, until the incompetent and irresponsible MP resigns.



Another interesting tidbit that seems to have gone unnoticed and unreported - nobody got dropped. There were a lot of ministers who seemed ripe for the cull - Ambrose, O'Connor, Oda, Ritz, Guergis, Verner - but Harper didn't dump any of them (although three got demoted). I would have thought that there was a bit more depth in the Tory ranks now that Harper could have afforded to toss out more of the deadwood.

Instead, he shuffled around some of his stronger performers and added new faces by creating additional ministries and plugging holes left by retiring or defeated ministers. I was surprised to hear that the cabinet is now 38 ministers in total - when Mulroney won his 211-seat landslide in 1984, he appointed a cabinet of 40 (the largest to date) which was widely criticized as bloated and wasteful. Mulroney at least had a legitimate excuse for appointing so many ministers - with so many seats there was pressure for most provinces to have multiple ministers at the table - but Harper has way fewer MPs. Chretien made do with a cabinet of just 23 ministers in the first few years of his regime. I can't imagine the 'small government' types in the Tory party are too pleased about this!


Who is the dumbass who put Steven Fletcher in charge of democratic reform? That guy was probably the most anti-democratic student union president ever. Heck, they still talk about him over at the student union.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture


Originally posted by genstrike:
[b]Who is the dumbass who put Steven Fletcher in charge of democratic reform? That guy was probably the most anti-democratic student union president ever. Heck, they still talk about him over at the student union.[/b]

I heard him interviewed today on CBC Radio. He completely dodged all questions related to proportional representation and low voter turn out. All he could yammer about is Senate Reform as in an elected Senate.


you mean the "reformed" senate that Harpo has said he's gonna stack with conservatives? [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img]


ENVIRONMENT: Note that the new Environment Minister (Jim Prentice) used to be the Minister of Industry – which signals to me that drilling in the Alberta Tar sands and the Arctic will continue to trump environmental concerns. Former Environment Ministers include John Baird and Rona Ambrose – both which were chastised internationally for sabotaging post Kyoto talks.

TRADE – I see that Doris has moved out of Public Safety and into International Trade – and not even the full Portfolio but a subsection concerning Asia while Tony Clement gets the main portfolio. I see this as a bit of a demotion for the former Party Leader, but Doris’s experience in Public Safety should, on paper, prepare him for putting in the safe product standards for dealing with China. However, I think this move is more PR because of Doris's friendliness with Taser International.

I guess that the addition of Leona Aglukkaq (the first Inuit Federal cabinet minister) "allowed" Harper to move Clement out of Health. Leona Aqgukkaq was the former Territorial Minister of Health for Nunavut and Tony Clement was the former Minister of Health for Ontario – the reason why Clement was the former Health Minister and Aglukkaq has it now – previous experience in the portfolio. I personally think that Harper wanted to move Clement out of the portfolio – both because Clement has brains and because Clement has a lot of baggage from when he was the Ontario Minister of Health. Clement is a Margaret Thatcher groupie – and all that entails.

Do you think that Gerry "I hate Natives" Ritz will have any more luck closing down the Canadian Wheat Board than Chuck Strahl did?


Heck, they still talk about him over at the student union.

Electorial Reform for the Cons is like the office in the broom closet. Why bother reforming something, like the Senate! It is paying for a new zipper for a jacket before throwing it out.

Well there is a reason Harper didn't put Fletcher into Health Care - even though he was the critic for it and seems to have an opinion on it.

Want to hear more about Fletcher as a student.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: vaudree ]

Wilf Day

What the heck happened to Shelly Glover?

[url=]Glover is the former media spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police and is obviously publicity savvy.[/url]


She is also close to Defence Minister Peter MacKay - in fact one source says it was MacKay who helped convince Glover to run federally - and MacKay is in Harper’s inner circle which could give Glover some extra attention from Harper.

Glover is also said to have already been involved at some level with discussions around building the new stadium in Winnipeg.

[url= articulate, telegenic and generally irrepressible Glover canvassed the former Liberal stronghold of St. Boniface into submission.[/url]


She was a cop. She is very confident speaking French. She has Mйtis ancestry. She represents the largest French-speaking population in Western Canada. . . And perhaps most importantly, she is, well, a she.

The Harper government certainly needs to promote dynamic, charismatic women if it is to continue its slow march towards a majority government, and on the surface Glover seems to fill that role. Harper's cabinet was woefully short of women last time around and not boosting the number of women in cabinet now would be as silly as, say, cutting arts funding months before you try to woo Quebec in a federal election. We must assume Harper is smarter now than he was then.

Unfortunately for Manitoba Tories, history dictates Manitoba will remain with one lonely cabinet minister.

And yet, it's the possibility of the improbable that will keep us glued to the web and the television screen today.

So, against all odds, Manitoba got a second minister. But it wasn't Shelly Glover. Although[url= someone told Jane Taber that Shelly Glover was expected to be given a post.[/url]



Originally posted by Wilf Day:
[b]What the heck happened to Shelly Glover?

Glover is my MP, and she really doesn't strike me as cabinet material (even less so than Fletcher or even Bruinooge). From what I have heard her say in the media, she hasn't been involved in politics for very long (compared to Fletcher who was a solid conservative hack going back to at least his student union days). She may have experience as a spokesperson, but I don't know if she has much that can translate to being a cabinet minister, especially right after being elected. Also, I heard a rumour of some police intimidation a while back, but haven't been able to find a source.

Also, St. B isn't so much of a Liberal stronghold anymore as over the years it picked up some pretty expensive new houses in developments on the fringes.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: genstrike ]

Adam T

I think I only got 1 minister in the right position in my prediction (Gail Shea at Fisheries and Oceans).

I can't believe Stockwell Day has been made International Trade Minister just as negotiations with the E.U are to begin on free trade.

I did get two things correct though:
1.Harper substantially increased the number of junior ministers
2.That Gary Lunn is a complete twit was finally recognized by his demotion to the junior ministry. Even as Minister of State for Sport, which should have the reward of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, he will likely be completely overshadowed by Heritage Minister James Moore who has cabinet responsibility for sports.

V. Jara

Seems like Leona Aglukkaq could be a liability. She has been handed one of the biggest portfolios and is hurting for experience under the spotlight.

My interpretation of the Day move is that putting him in International Trade is going to be Harper's "red meat" Conservative cover for doing some major business with China. I could be wrong, though. Whoever the NDP chooses as the shadow critic should be prepared to really flog the human rights and blue collar outsourcing angle.

BC definitely got shafted on this cabinet round, although moderate Moore's promotion (should he not screw it up) will placate some BCers. Harper's choice of BC ministers also makes it clear that his entire BC strategy is to play up the government through the 2010 Olympics. This makes total sense given the newspaper articles that were coming out in the spring saying the federal government was demanding message control and promotion of the federal government as non-negotiable quid pro quos for all federal funding. The NDP should put Peter Julian on the Olympics file because he is a tenacious opponent and I think there may be some blood that could be spilt there. Julian definitely did a great job going after the Conservatives on the softwood lumber issue and now without a Natural Resource minister in BC I could see him hounding the Conservatives again.

ETA: I'm also mildly surprised about Ablonczy's demotion.

[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: V. Jara ]



[ 30 October 2008: Message edited by: Doug ]

Wilf Day

[url= to be hard to decide where the GTA is:[/url]


The GTA has three members in the expanded cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt
Peter Kent, minister of state for foreign affairs for the Americas.

I'm sure Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan (York-Simcoe) thinks he's in the GTA, commuting from his home south of Sutton (York Region) to his downtown law office.

Then there's Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda (Durham). Durham Region is part of the GTA. If Lisa Raitt in "exurban Halton riding" is in the GTA, so is Oda.

That's five.

Finally, on the GTA fringe we have Minister of State (Status of Women) Helena Guergis, who lives just outside it in Angus, in Essa Township, mostly a bedroom community whose residents largely commute to Toronto for work; 22% of her riding is inside the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area, namely New Tecumseth (Tottenham, Beeton and Alliston) where her sister is a municipal councillor.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

By appointing Prentice to environment, Harper is once more giving a big "fuck you!" to the planet and all of us. This choice signals that Harper has recognized and understood that the small 'g' green vote is fractured, and irrelevant in electoral politics.

Prentice is an appointment, from, by, and for industry.

2 ponies

LOL! Someone mentioned that Shelly Glover doesn’t really strike them as cabinet material. The reason I laugh is: think of how many Tory ministers haven’t struck you as cabinet material. How many of the ministers are memorable for their expertise, professionalism, charm, wit, etc? The only thing any of the ministers seem to be memorable for is good looks: both male & female. Good looks & messing up bad: I’m from SK & only herd of Ritz when he was first appointed minister. I only knew about Skelton because I had worked on NDP campaigns against her in the early 00’s – when she first got elected, one of my pals pointed out that she beat Nettie Weibe by the same # of people who live in her home town of Harris; you remember tidbits like that. As I’m sure everyone is aware – Harper doesn’t pick ministers for their credentials; he appoints a few solid individuals like Prentice (who we may not agree with, but who is an intelligent guy & a workhorse) & Chuck Strahl (who is hardcore conservative, but he’s a solid minister – I’ve met him on a few occasions through work & he’s capable) to pick up the slack & then he fills out the rest of the positions with good looking people or those who bring a lot of political capital. E.g., the farmers & rural folks I know are impressed that we have Ritz as an agriculture minister – why, because he’s from SK & he was a farmer. The other stuff doesn’t matter – his appointment alone is enough to shore up the rural Tory vote in SK for years to come. He brings a tonne of political capital. Is he competent? Of course not, but he’ll fall into line just like Shelly Grover, Helen Greugis, Rona Ambrose, Peter McKay, Lawrence Cannon, etc. When have we heard Tory cabinet ministers musing about this & that in the media? When they muse then speak, they get turfed. When the Liberals were in power & their ministers mused about something that wasn’t officially part of the party line, it wasn’t a huge deal – it got a lot of coverage, but people weren’t fired or demoted for it. Even Peter McKay, who seems to be a fairly intelligent guy doesn’t strike me as cabinet material. What has he ever done beside prepare to continue his father’s political dynasty? But damn, he looks good, he falls into line, he knows when to keep his mouth shut & he brings a lot of political capital.



The only thing any of the ministers seem to be memorable for is good looks: both male & female.

Maybe that's all ministers are required to do, for the most part: Present a good face for the government. Look good in front of the camera while making announcements, hopefully look good while being shit catcher for the PMO, which seems to make all the real decisions anyway.

Making a cabinet for a control freak like Harper must be an interesting process. Get some people who look good and are smart enough to keep you out of trouble, but not so smart and able that they become a rival.

Harper seems to put more emphasis on the latter than the former.


While the portfolios are important the construction of the cabinet committees are even more so.

for example:

priorities and planning:
and Flaherty

Operations is chaired by Prentice and he is on P and P and the environment committee while John Barid still chairs it


I am thinking that if I am diane ablonczy I would be very pissed. To be honest, when they where in opposition she was one of the few I would consider smart. Her voice isn't very 'presentable' but she always seamed like she had looked at her wikipedia for the day to get some kind of information, as opposed to the usual howls and yammering coming from the cons shadow cabinet.
The fact she has been passed over yet again likely means she will be fed up with harper and not run in the next election as she will have been there about 17 years by the next one. She is also 60 years old, so it likely she will have had enough in 2 years. The thing I noticed about conservatives, the will eat there own as long as it moves their overall objective forward. Example, harper spending like crazy, sure it is against everything they say they stand for, but if they appoint a few more senators and judges, in the long run it will be better for their party shaping canada.

In regard to political capital, I think that is part of the fltcher and finley thing. I can't remember anything those ministers said at all. Ever!(while not in opp) but they both are visibly handicapped so the conservatives must be for the disabled. I know people that say this in fact, I then calmly explain how they want to get rid of any equality legislation. But but but, yeah I know it looks good but it is all about [i]optics[/i] say what you will, but harper knows optics. I feel sorry for the ministers secretaries that do all the work, wonder how bad bernier's secretary must work. This guy is as shallow as a rain puddle.

Wilf Day

Now we know how Tony Clement unwinds after a campaign: he goes off for some French Immersion.

Tonight on Don Newman's Politics programme Don asks Tony about some infrastructure report: "have you implemented it?" Tony replies "we're in train of doing so."

Excuse me, Tony, [i]"en train de"[/i] is French. When Quebec politicians speak in Franglais, it's unremarkable, but Toronto Tony? Definitely a strong dose of Immersion.


Originally posted by Tommy_Paine:
[b]Making a cabinet for a control freak like Harper must be an interesting process. Get some people who look good and are smart enough to keep you out of trouble, but not so smart and able that they become a rival.[/b]

Why would Tony be doing French Immersion? Hmm.

[ 31 October 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]

West Coast Lefty

Overall, it's a strong cabinet for Harper's 2nd term, and the diversity in terms of the record number of women and the first Inuk and person with disability in Cabinet are commendable. With Dion invisible and the Lib leadership race already turning divisive, I think Harper will enjoy a honeymoon with this cabinet until the full budget in spring 2009.

On the downside, there are a few regional vulnerabilities and some displays of Harper letting his pettiness overcome his better judgment (i.e. keeping Ritz in Agriculture, denying Ablonczy the senior cabinet post she so clearly deserves).

A few specfic thoughts:

- BC did OK in terms of clout but there were 2 key missed opportunities. Moore at Heritage is a great move with Vancouver being Hollywood North and Moore's moderate and bilingual profile will help in Quebec as well.

Day is a strange choice for International Trade but he surprised us all as an effective Public Safety Minister, so maybe he can do it again.

Strahl is solid in Indian and Northern Affairs and Hill is a good pick for House Leader. Those are 4 important posts and reflect BC's growing clout in Canada's economic and political future. Lunn got the lowest possible position without being totally dropped from Cabinet, and that's about all he deserves.

Harper will live to regret leaving out Alice Wong (Richmond) and John Duncan (Vancouver Island North) from Cabinet. Those are swing seats where Harper made gains on October 14, esp in Richmond and the Chinese-Canadian community more broadly, and naming Wong in a junior cabinet post like Revenue, or a Sec of State for Asia-Pacific, should have been a no-brainer. Duncan's seat is vulnerable to an NDP resurgence and remaining on the backbench won't help him keep it Tory Blue.

- Quebec is the biggest loser of the shuffle by far, it's probably the weakest Quebec representation in a federal Cabinet since the Clark minority government in 1979. Blackburn to Revenue and Verner to Intergovernmental Affairs are hardly worth mentioning, and Lebel's Quebec Econ Development portfolio is wasted on an MP in the riding next to Blackburn with zero provincial profile. Cannon in Foreign Affairs is a good choice, but I question whether Paradis in Public Works can help Harper overcome his political challenges in Quebec. It was a big mistake to not give any senior economic portfolios to a Quebec minister, and watch for the Quebec media to blast Harper over this issue for weeks on end.

- I really like the Prentice and Raitt combo in Environment and Natural Resources. It doesn't mean that Harper is getting more progressive on climate change yet, but it does mean that you have 2 media-savvy ministers who are tasked with appealing to moderate voters, who will not want to repeat Baird's disgraceful performance in Bali in the international climate change talks. If Obama wins a strong majority on Tuesday and starts getting serious about a real cap on emissions, I think the Harper gov't will have no choice but to follow suit, and Prentice and Raitt will see that reality much sooner than Baird and Lunn ever would have.

- It was very disappointing to see Finley back at Human Resources and Social Development - Ablonczy or even Ambrose would have been much better choices for this ministry. I noted earlier the Prentice and Raitt appointments may signal some moderation on climate change. I predict Finley at HRSD means Harper will remain hardline on housing, child care, UI and social programs generally, which is horrific on substance but will also give the NDP many chances to score political points with their strong and expanded new caucus.

[ 31 October 2008: Message edited by: West Coast Lefty ]



Originally posted by 2 ponies:
[b]LOL! Someone mentioned that Shelly Glover doesn’t really strike them as cabinet material. The reason I laugh is: think of how many Tory ministers haven’t struck you as cabinet material...[/b]

I agree, there aren't a heck of a lot of Tory cabinet ministers that I like, but honestly, the Conservatives went for candidates who are stars for silly reasons and have little political experience for Winnipeg this time around (I mean, two athletes and a spokesperson in the ridings they thought they could win?). Both Fletcher and Bruinooge have much more experience both in elected politics and as Tory hacks than Glover.

Glover simply does not have anything approaching the experience required to become a cabinet minister. And if Harper wanted a woman from Winnipeg in cabinet, Joy Smith would be a better choice, having at least been around the block a couple times.

Regarding Chuck Strahl: Maybe there is something about his riding that I don't know about, but what the fuck is a white guy whose riding borders the US border doing in Indian Affairs and Northern Development?

[ 01 November 2008: Message edited by: genstrike ]

Wilf Day


Originally posted by West Coast Lefty:
[b]Harper will live to regret leaving out Alice Wong (Richmond) and John Duncan (Vancouver Island North) from Cabinet. Those are swing seats where Harper made gains on October 14, esp in Richmond and the Chinese-Canadian community more broadly, and naming Wong in a junior cabinet post like Revenue, or a Sec of State for Asia-Pacific, should have been a no-brainer.[/b]

[url= Globe agrees: B.C. loses a voice in cabinet, despite Tory surge:[/url]


British Columbia lost ground in the Harper government's post-election cabinet shuffle yesterday despite sending nearly 30 per cent more Conservative MPs to Ottawa in the mid-October federal vote.

The province ended up with one less minister this time, while others, such as Ontario, saw their share increase. B.C. voters elected 22 Tory MPs in the Oct. 14 election, up from 17 in the 2006 ballot.

Vancouver-area MP James Moore was promoted to a full cabinet minister, responsible for Canadian Heritage, while former Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn was demoted to a junior minister of state responsible for sport and the 2010 Olympics. Ministers of state are not members of the federal cabinet.

Mr. Moore also takes over as political minister responsible for Vancouver from departed foreign affairs minister David Emerson, whose term ended yesterday with the shuffle.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the outcome for B.C. yesterday, noting the province retains four cabinet-level ministers. But he acknowledged the demands of representing a larger caucus required him to move minister of state jobs elsewhere.

"We have tried this time to spread [them] across the country," Mr. Harper said.

B.C. has one junior minister , Mr. Lunn, while before the election it had both Mr. Moore as a minister of state and Jay Hill, then government whip, who was also a minister of state.

While B.C. loses a minister of state, Ontario gains three of them, as well as one full cabinet minister. The overall Tory caucus is more than 18 per cent larger after the election, including 10 additional MPs from Ontario.

The five new B.C. Tory MPs include Chinese-Canadian businesswoman Alice Wong, from Richmond. The Tories currently have no Chinese-Canadian ministers despite this ethnic group's significant presence in B.C. and Canada at large.


I hate to burst your bubble as Harper says Canada is home free when it comes to the ill affects of the sub-prime mortgages but not so.  You do the math if America's bubble is an anticipated 300,000 forecloses or approx %10 of population do  to sub-prime mortgages whats the difference when it comes to the anticipated 30,000 forecloses or approx %10 of the population do to sub-prime rates in Canada?  A flood of houses on the market and these are from homeowners that where paying their mortgages we haven't even gotten to forecloses because of the recession.  Whats it mean well lots of cheap houses on the market bring the market down to size as economy tanks.  Have tax payers got a couple extra billion hanging around to help the anticipated homeless out because that is what it is going to take and a whole lot more.


A little off topic but not really as its Stockwell Day that is going to bury the hatchet into Canadians in need and he comes with credentials as former provincial treasure with Klein.  Its Dooms Day for many Canadians as what went up, up, up is going to go crashing down as economy is full of hot air.

Diogenes Diogenes's picture

39 out of 145 (over 25%) of conservative MP's are in the cabinet!

Harper rewards those who are loyal sycophants, like any successful dictator should.