Cabinet shuffle and Senate reform

May 18, 2011 at 11:47 am (News, Politics, Rants) ()

For Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s first majority government, he chose to slightly expand the cabinet for the 41st Parliament. There will be 38 people with portfolios, many of them sticking to the files they’ve been working on for the last few years. There were six vacancies to fill because of retirements (Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl) and losses in the election (Gary Lunn, Lawrence Cannon), with a couple others being left out this time around.

Here’s a full list of the new cabinet; I’ll just list those who have moved to new positions:

  • Tony Clement – Treasury
  • John Baird – Foreign affairs
  • Joe Oliver – Natural resources
  • Maxime Bernier – Minister of State for tourism and small business
  • Peter Van Loan – House leader
  • Peter Penshue – Intergovernmental affairs
  • Alicia Wong – Minister of State for seniors
  • Christian Paradis – Industry
  • Gail Shea – Revenue
  • Keith Ashfield – Fisheries and oceans
  • Tim Uppal – Minister of State for democratic reform
  • Bernard Valcourt – Minister of State for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Steven Fletcher – Minister of State for transport
  • Ed Fast – International trade
  • Bal Gossal – Minister of State for sport
  • Julio Fantino – Associate minister for national defence
  • Steven Blaney – Veteran’s affairs

Folks like Peter McKay (defence), Rob Nicholson (justice), Jim Flaherty (finance), Jason Kenney (immigration) will stay the course with their unchanged portfolios.

Parliament is scheduled to resume on June 3 with the throne speech.

UPDATE: I realized I can’t just blog a list of names and leave it at that. There’s some ranting to be done here.

I’m sure that most of these parliamentarians are qualified and diligent, and I won’t comment on people I don’t know well enough to question their abilities. My main issue is with the reappointment of Bev Oda – at the very least she should have been demoted to a lesser profile after the “not” keruffle. It’s ridiculous that her behaviour had absolutely no consequences.

But what I’m actually really upset about is the Senate appointments. After Harper’s press conference following the swearing in of MPs, it was announced that Josee Verner, Larry Smith, and Fabian Manning will be sent to the Upper Chamber. All three are failed Conservative candidates in the election a couple of weeks ago. Smith and Manning were both members of the Senate before resigning to run for Parliament … and now they’re headed back, even though they never expressed any expectation of that happening.

The government spin has been, and continues to be, that until the Senate is reformed, the prime minister will fill the vacancies. Fair enough, but there should be at least some indication that the Conservatives are still committed to changes instead of being more interested in stuffing their supporters there. So far, I haven’t seen any of that commitment, and this latest round of appointments imply that the opposite is true.

And I’m a fan of the Senate. What do you think?


1 Comment

  1. David Wood said,

    I am not a fan of the senate. It has become just another level of partisan politics just as raucous as the house of commons. The supreme court has, rightly or wrongly, become the balance to legislative authority and uses that power unabashedly. The Senate has become simply another hurtle for the sitting government to circumvent in order to achieve it’s agenda. I don’t believe in hamstringing a government so tight it cannot accomplish anything nor in Canadian preoccupation with ensuring that no real power exists that might capsize the status quo. In my opinion, no Prime Minister has any choice but to stack that unelected body to have any hope of accomplishing anything at all. That’s the reality, even if it makes us wrankle with the politics of it.

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