Amid much speculating about the possibility of a cabinet shuffle and much guessing as to who might go where, Roland Paris wonders if John Baird might be the next defence minister.
Look at it from the prime minister’s standpoint. He needs a minister of defence who can weather the political storm that’s gathering around the department. Projected costs of the controversial F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will probably continue to rise, which is terrible news for the Tories, who have attempted to build their brand on fiscal discipline. Further, as Postmedia’s Lee Berthiaume reported yesterday, even the enormous price tag on the F-35 acquisition is dwarfed by the government’s $35-billion shipbuilding plan, which is already behind schedule. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is too smart not to see the great political risks.
If Mr. Baird goes to defence, it will be his sixth portfolio in just over six years after being President of the Treasury Board, Transport Minister, Environment Minister (twice), Government House leader and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
I’m not sure what the record is in this regard, but it would leave Mr. Baird one post short of the legendary Allan MacEachen, who was, at one time or another, Minister of Labour, Minister of Amateur Sport, Minister of National Health and Welfare, Minister of Manpower and Immigration, Secretary of State for External Affairs, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.