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UPDATED – So this is it – the final countdown – Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle from outside Rideau Hall


 

Post-shuffle programming note: Scroll down for the PM’s press conference outside the House of Commons, which should get started around 1pm.

9:40:37 AM
Okay. So I’m currently scurrying up the driveway – or Driveway, if you prefer – to Rideau Hall after a moment of sheer panic when I initially pulled up to the gates to find a dozen or more suspiciously ministerial-in-waiting cars idling outside while the security guards went over their respective credentials. “Did they bump up the time?” I wondered – no, apparently not – there are just a lot of spectators and/or early arrivals here. Anyway, I’m now at the top of the lane and the limo walk is in full swing. Really, already? It’s nearly an hour early. I’ll find out who I’ve missed, and fill you in.

9:43:53 AM
Okay: Yelich, Alblonczy, Thompson, Hill, Day – really, Day? – and – pretty much the entire cabinet has already arrived; it turns out, though, that that doesn’t actually mean anything because they were all told to show up, even if they’re not changing jobs. Well, this makes it more of a challenge, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, the guards are now herding us into the pen – some had crept outside and were lining the drive.

Oh, Gail Shea and Lisa Raitt are here too, apparently. Not that we weren’t expecting them to be here, but still.

9:46:37 AM
Gary Lunn just rolled up with – was that Gordon O’Connor? I guess if it was, it means he’s sticking around. Oh, and so is Gerry Ritz, unless he’s being forced to hand over his title in person.


9:48:38 AM
And there’s Peter Kent. Wow, I’m seriously shocked that they’re all turning up so early. Usually the parade doesn’t start until half an hour before.

Peter Van Loan waves to the crowd, but doesn’t answer whatever question the now somewhat bemused media throng asked.

9:51:36 AM
Rob Merrifield is here! Not a newbie, but apparently, he’s going to be the new Guy From Rural Alberta. There’s also a rumour that Gary Goodyear is here – yes, that Gary Goodyear – who could be taking the Whip job.

Still apparently MIA: Rona Ambrose. Dum dum dum.

9:55:01 AM
And there’s Rona! Oh, before I forget – no sign of any defectors as yet, Liberal, from Quebec, or otherwise. Then again, they’d want to make an entrance, right?

9:58:39 AM
I just had a horrible thought – Gary Goodyear as the new House Leader? It could happen!

10:02:17 AM
Okay, I have to confess something to y’all – I am no longer outside the entrance; I’m now huddled in the filing/watching room in the bowels of Rideau Hall, because the stream of arrivals seems to have stopped, and pretty much everyone is inside by this point, but more importantly, because my fingers actually *were* about to freeze, and I figured that wouldn’t be in anyone’s long term interest. Anyway, the filing room – which, during its normal day to day existence, is a cafeteria – is slowly filling up, and we’re keeping tabs on what’s going on outside and upstairs with the help of strategically placed TVs.

10:06:40 AM
Wow – the PM is apparently going to let up to five ministers talk to the media after the ceremony! Five! It’s unprecedented! “The Kory Effect,” suggests one of my colleagues. Whatever it is, it’s creating quite a buzz of excitement, which is kind of pathetic when you think about it.

10:08:59 AM
And here comes the PM – smiling, waving, with a team of harried looking staffers swirling around him – including Dimitri Soudas, swaddled in a fetching scarf.

Oh, and Maxime Bernier isn’t here, and doesn’t seem to have been delayed in traffic, according to Newsworld – he’s “still in the penalty box,” as per Don Newman. So did we-the-media just invent the idea that the PM *had* to put him in cabinet because … (And the reasoning always seemed to trail off just like that)? Because we do that kind of thing sometimes.

10:13:20 AM
A sizeable contingent of full-dress-uniformed Footguards just showed up in the filing room, presumably because there’s nowhere else to put them.

10:15:45 AM
Okay, fifteen minutes to go. This whole event seems to have been timed oddly – it’s like everything is happening thirty minutes ahead of schedule. They could’ve started the swearing in at 10am, really.

10:20:43 AM
Just to let you know – we’ll get the list of ministers down here as soon as the ceremony starts, at which point I will madly type in the highlights as fast as my now thawing fingers can manage. Rob Merrifield, huh? Other than Gary Goodyear, is he the only non-rookie MP to show up who wasn’t in the last cabinet? I wonder if he’ll get Diane Ablonczy’s gig now that she’s heading onward and upward to the big kid table.

10:24:27 AM
Newsworld is showing live footage of Christian Paradis’ cherubic son clambouring over the back of his chair, interspliced with shots of the somewhat frazzled looking string quartet.

10:27:04 AM
It’s nearly time! Where are our cheat sheets? I demand confirmed information! Although not with quite the same hysteria and intensity if I’d stuck it out and stayed outside like Keith Boag, who isn’t even wearing a hat.

10:29:26 AM
Okay, absolute last second speculation on the positions nearest and dearest to ITQ’s heart: Goodyear to Whip, Hill to House Leader, Van Loan to – I don’t know where, but smewhere, since he’s in the room.

10:33:56 AM
I like how Newsworld periodically switches to a shot of the arch way through which the ministers of tomorrow will pass. Well, after this random middle aged man gets out of the way.

10:38:06 AM
Look, a row of empty chairs!

Seriously, how is it possible that this is late? Everyone was in the room by five after ten.

10:38:34 AM
Okay, here we go – and now, a frantic dash for the door, where we assume a helpful PMO official will be appearing momentarily to hand out the list.

10:40:12 AM
The ministers and ministers-to-be are filing into the room – *finally* – and here is the list!
Blackburn to Revenue, Day to Trade, Ambrose to Labour, Finley to HRDC, Prentice to Environment, Clement to Industry, Baird to Transport, Verner to Intergovernmental Affairs, Van Loan to Public Safety – Gleeps! – Kenney to Citizenship, Moore to Heritage, Aglukkaq to Health, Raitt to Natural Resources, Shea to Fish, Lunn to Minister of State (Sport) (wow, that’s a serious demotion) – Hill as House Leader, and a bunch of newbies as Ministers of State, as well as Helena for Status of Women. No promotion for Diane Ablonczy.

10:45:48 AM
Wow. So – how did we do on our predictions? I’d say not bad – a B-, maybe – but points taken away for needlessly raising Diane Ablonczy’s hopes of becoming a full minister.

Van Loan to Public Safety strikes me as a huge jump, and I can’t figure out whether his hyperpartisanship will be a help or a hinderance.

Also, Peter MacKay is now in charge of “The Atlantic Gateway” – maybe that includes Newfoundland and Labrador?

10:50:45 AM
I guess it must, since he no longer has ACOA – MacKay, that is. Consensus in the filing room is that Day’s move to Trade is actually a promotion – which I guess is true, although Public Safety has a much more sizeable department, as far as sheer machinery o’ government.

Also, another oddity: Diane Finley was at HRDC originally, but traded with Monte Solberg because of health issues — which have apparently lessened, since she’s now got it back.

10:57:06 AM
We’re not even watching the swearings-in at this point – everyone is trying to figure out What It All Means. Are there more women, as promised? More ministers of state? More ministerial salaries to fork out at a time when the government may be forced into deficit?

11:07:30 AM
Okay, I’m going to brave the cold once again to wait for the semi-mythical ministerial scrums we’ve been promised will take place after the ceremony.

11:18:45 AM
Okay, I may be delusional, but it feels slightly warmer out here than during the roll-up. I’m also basking in the sun like a tundra lizard, which helps. Bring on the designated scrummers!

11:23:45 AM
You should see the traffic jam in the making on the driveway, incidentally – it’s going to be a madhouse when the ministers come out. Hopefully that will give me just enough time to make it to the Hill in time for the PM’s remarks – which are scheduled for 11:45, but unless he has a helicopter stocked away somewhere, I suspect he’s going to be a bit late.

11:26:24 AM
I’ll do a proper post about this when I get back, but I just heard via email that the Vancouver South recount will, indeed, continue tomorrow – maybe not all the boxes, but more — presumably, until candidates decide to call it quits.

11:31:01 AM
Man, I wish I had a tent like the TV networks. It looks positively balmy over there. What can they possibly be doing in there that is taking so long?

11:36:03 AM
As part of ITQ’s continuing coverage of PMO haberdashery, I’d like to note that Kory Teneycke is sporting a lovely autumn-themed scarf – rust, orange and cream stripes. Also, there is still no sign of any ministers at the microphone. A horrible thought: Have we been tricked?

11:40:40 AM
Finally, signs of life at the mic – in the form of John Baird, who says he’s “excited” to get to work right away, in both English and French, at which point the scrum explodes into an incomprehensible burst of question. He’ll take a few days to be “briefed up” and then he’ll be ready to “tackle” the file. He’s already had a “congratulatory” message from the Ontario transport minister, even. “Will you be less partisan in your new portfolio?” Calls someone from behind the fence, but Baird walks off. Okay, so three questions each.

11:44:24 AM
Lisa Raitt, everybody! She’s wearing a very, very nonwinterized white pant suit – and no socks, from what I can tell – but is delighted with her new job, although she’s not delirious enough with joy to actually comment on specifics. Someone asks if this is the right time to be “learning on the job”, what with the crisis in the manufacturing sector, but she beams and gives her talking poiints with poise. As for Canada’s need to increase nuclear power, she’s only been on the job for thirteen minutes, so she doesn’t have anything to say about that.

11:47:22 AM
Lawrence Cannon up now – looking oddly like David Emerson, suddenly, with a quiet confidence and understated air of power. Unfortunately, he’s being questioned almost entirely in French so far, and I can barely hear his answers over the hum of the motorcade going by in the background.

And now, the English questions – David Akin wins the shout-off, and wonders what he might do differently from Emerson. Like he’d fall for that one. He wants to get to work as fast as possible, though – just like Baird.
He’s also “extremely proud” to go out there and represent the country abroad.

11:51:01 AM
Stockwell Day is next, and he gets hit with a hardball right away – what are his views on trade with China vs. Taiwan. He awkwardly tries to segue into his happy to be here speech, and notes that “no country is an island”. Except Australia, presumably. And England.

He’s asked why BC has fewer ministers this time around despite having elected more MPs, and – doesn’t really answer the question; instead, he talks about building schools in Afghanistan.

11:55:34 AM
And now, a brief pause for the family photo, which – wait, they haven’t done that yet? Anyway, we’re not sure how many more ministers will come out, but we’re hearing that Gail Shea and Tony Clement will be among them.

11:58:51 AM
And Jim Prentice, apparently. That’s as per Kory Teneycke. Man, my fingers are cold. The sun went away while I wasn’t paying attention, and it was definitely making the difference. Brrrrr. Someone needs to invent gloves that really, truly allow for fine motor skills-dependent operations.

12:04:52 PM
Jim Prentice is on his way, we’re told – but no, it’s atuallly Tony Clement, who says that as an Ontarian, he’s well aware that people – including the auto industry – is “hurting” — he won’t say whether that means he’ll go ahead with the aid package rejected by his predecessor; but he assures us that he’s “here to help.”

Kory, by the way, is looming off to the side, supervising the scene.

And that’s it for Tony. Was that worh the possible loss of two to three fingers to frostbite? Well, let’s see what Prentice has to say before we make a final ruling.

12:08:42 PM
And here he is! What pressures does he face as the guy who will be trying to bring in regulatory changes at the same time that the economy is suffering? He agrees it will be a challenge, but doesn’t give any specifics. As for regulations on greenhouse gases, and when we’ll see them, he — didn’t hear that question, but tells us that he is a “passionate outdoorsman” and – say it with me now – is “extremely excited” to have this new job.

12:12:16 PM
Okay, one more, I think – there was a brief flurry of PMO communications staffer activity there, but it’s not clear what is going on. Oh, there’s Jim Flaherty, who – isn’t going to stop to talk to us, but sdoes give us a big grin.

12:13:35 PM
And finally, Gail Shea, who is “excited” and “happy” and looking forward to being briefed by the department.

12:15:20 PM
Interesting, she gets the predictable question on women in cabinet and handles it nicely – so nicely that she gets a thumbs up from Kory, who then escorts her off.
That’s it for now, y’all. I’ll check back from the next event – the PM’s scrum on the Hilll. See you there!

12:42:38 PM
And we’re back! Did you miss me? I managed to make it out of Rideau Hall before the prime ministerial motorcade snarled traffic for the rest of the hangers-on (ministerial and otherwise) parked in the drive, and am now iin front of the House of Commons with the rest of the shufflegroupies, waiting for Stephen Harper and the rest of his cabinet to arrive. Which was supposed to happen at 12:45, but will probably be closer to 1pm at the earliest.

On the plus side, we’re inside!

12:49:43 PM
Some intense back and forthing over how the questions will be handled — is it back to the list, or has the Kory regime resulted in permanent relaxing of the rigid pre-election rules?

12:57:30 PM
You know what would be great? If just once – maybe on a special occasion, like the day he names your new cabinet – the PM would show up on time.

1:04:29 PM
Okay, we have the Couple Of Minutes Warning! I love the scientific precision.

1:06:50 PM
And – one minute! Apparently, he’ll give a statement, then take questions – questions from news outlets willing to submit to the list, that is.

Oh wow, here he is. That was quicker than I expected. Is this the first press conference he’s had since the day after the election?

1:08:48 PM
The fundamentals, you will be glad to know, are strong*er*. Wait, is that better or worse than “strong”? Anyway, his priority will be to help the economy weather the storm, but not by trading arks in midstream. (It’s possible that he didn’t say that last bit, but I bet he wanted to.) We also have to “keep our house in order” – and it takes me far too long to realize he means small-h house, and not big-H House of Commons – which is why Jim Flaherty will remain as Finance Minister.

1:11:35 PM
He’s confident that this is a good team – the cabinet, that is – although he admits that it’s always hard to choose when you have more competent people than spots to fill, and – really, isn’t that laying it on a bit thick?

More about protecting Canadians from turmoil so that this country remains the “true north strong and free”, and now it’s onto the list of authorized questions, starting with Susan Lunn, who wonders why so many of the economic portfolios went to Ontario ministers. The PM notes that he wanted to bring in his strongest ministers, and – I guess they all happened to be from Ontario.

1:14:25 PM
A nine-layered question from La Presse about the next president, and how the PM plans to address issues like Khadr, Guantanemo, and – a bunch of other hot buttons, some of which went right over my head.

The PM gives the standard answer on Khadr – serious crimes, let the process work, etc – and the reporter looks frustrated, but not surprised.

1:16:51 PM
David Akin challenges the PM over BC’s representation in cabinet, and asks him to “square the circle’ as far as appointing a rookie – Raitt – to Natural Resources; and demoting BC’s Gary Lunn to a minister of state gig. Not surprisingly, Harper doesn’t see it that way; he claims that the total number of BC ministers remains unchanged – is that right? – and praises Raitt for her qualifications as a businesswoman who “won a tough electoral battle”. So basically, if you beat a Garth Turner, you’re almost guaranteed a cabinet post. Keep that in mind for the future, y’all.

1:20:26 PM
You know the old saying, “it’s all done with mirrors”? Well, I can tell you that on the floor directly in front of the PM’s lectern are not one but two mirrors, strategically pointed to reflect the light in a flattering way. It really brings out the umber in the wood.

Meanwhile, Craig Oliver wonders why, at a time of economic crisis, the PM is moving one of his more credible ministers – Prentice, or “Jim” as the PM calls him – to Environment. “That’s a good question,” Harper begins, which makes Craig happy; he goes on to stress the importance of linking the environment with the economy, and sounds oddly like Stephane Dion for a moment.

1:24:52 PM
Oh, the deficit question. Somehow, I don’t think this one is going away any time soon, but the PM seems cautiously optimistic that they’ll stay in surplus “this year”, but admits that they’re “less certain today” than even a few weeks ago, when pretty much every single press release put out by the Conservative campaign included the word “certainty” in the headline.

From this angle, I swear it looks like he’s not that much taller than I am. It must be some sort of optical illusion – that, or I’m delirious with hunger and boredom.

1:27:02 PM
And Hot Room colleague Brian Lilley throws a curve ball – what about that Afghan journalism student thrown in jail for blasphemy, and what about the scourge of human rights commissions (note: not museums)?

Ooh.

Okay, so the PM assures him that Canada has expressed its concerns to the Afghanistan government at the “highest level” – which is good, I guess – and then notes that the human rights commission issue involves a delicate balance; the most “egregious” cases are before provincial commissions, so he can’t comment on those examples, but he thinks the Canadian Human Rights Commission may be moderating its actions.

1:31:11 PM
And – that’s it, although as usual, we won’t take no – or, in this case, a hasty departure – for an answer, and he exits pursued by questions about the auto industry. Me, I’m heading upstairs in hopes that the cafeteria is still open. This has been a surprisingly lively shuffleday, but if I don’t get some food in me, I’m liable to become cranky, and that doesn’t make for the most objective analysis.

See y’all in the next thread, everyone!


 

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