The cabinet shuffle: meaningful but not momentous

The key move is Peter Kent taking over as environment minister

by John Geddes

It’s a mistake to read sweeping strategy into cabinet tinkering. Today’s mini-shuffle is interesting only if you take it on its own, modest terms.

The key move is Peter Kent taking over as environment minister. That job, in Stephen Harper’s government, places two demands on the minister: 1) bat back Opposition questions about the government’s elusive climate change policy; 2) advance that policy, whatever it may be, in bilateral talks with the U.S. and ongoing international negotiations under the complex interim deal hammered out last month in Cancun, Mexico.

Kent seems nicely qualified on both fronts. He has shown himself to be splenetic figure in the House, readily angered but not easily rattled. In his former job as minister of state for the Americas, he gained experience in multilateral talks in the Organization of American States and other forums. Not a bad apprenticeship for an environment minister’s job that’s become defined mainly in terms of foreign relationships, rather than domestic policy innovation.

The next most noteworthy promotion, given the primacy of economic issues to this government, is Ted Menzies being named minister of state for finance, a notch up from his old job as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s parliamentary secretary. His congenial political persona makes Menzies conspicuous in a cabinet dominated by acerbic guys (see above). This is no small asset. Arguably the Harper government’s signature achievement in the past two years has been branding and selling “Canada’s Economic Action Plan,” and keeping up that communications effort through the coming budget season makes a bump up the pay scale for a likable salesman only sensible.

On naming Julian Fantino merely minister of state for seniors, Harper looks prudent in keeping his controversial rookie MP—the former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner who late last year narrowly won a by-election in Vaughan, just north of Toronto—away from law-and-order files. As for Diane Ablonczy filling Kent’s former slot as minister of state for foreign affairs for the Americas, with consular affairs tacked on as an added responsibility, this looks like a modest reward for long, competent service.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed that in his news conference on the shuffle Harper made glowing mention of Fantino’s “great” riding, and pointedly praised Kent for his constituency work for nearby Thornhill—prime-ministerial nods to prized Toronto-area seats. But he didn’t, as far as I heard, make similar mention of the Alberta ridings of Menzies and Ablonczy. That’s the difference, I suppose, between being in the bag for a political party and in its crosshairs.




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The cabinet shuffle: meaningful but not momentous

    • So not only is Emily coming off a stringing rebuke for falsely claiming the US has low corporate tax rates she's now predicted that unemployment is about to go up!

      Check in next jobs report everyone !

      I don't know of a single forecaster who's predicting job losses anymore.

      Emily does though! Great!

      Cats away!

      • Hairball alert, folks

        • Why keep denying you've said things i've repeatedly linked too ??

          Emily you've made demonstrably false statements on here and have a reputation for spouting off without backing it up.

          Cat food anyone ? Mirror Cats, who's the airhead now ? Peter Kent ? Nope. Nope Cats!

          • "I said it was low, and compared to most places it is. "

            Emily's latest attempt to explain away her obvious error. Its the second highest in the world !

            Palm Face Cats.

          • Twice you say stupid things on here.

            Are you TRYING to give cats a bad name?

          • I'm quoting stupid things YOU HAVE SAID.

            Mirror Cats.

  1. JG. The appropriate context to view these shuffles. You're stretching, otherwise:

    "One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two more to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle."

    • And then you can look up . . . Waaaay up, and Dmitri will find me.

      • And I'll call Rusty…….beautiful!

    • And the friendly giant still has the opposition spinning in circles.

      • Probably…he's dead after all.

  2. The envirofascists don't seem to get it. Stephen Harper does not care what you have to say. Full stop. His focus is the economy and he has been abundantly clear on that point. He will not do anything that will put the Canadian economy at a competitive disadvantage with the United States our major trading partner. That's his policy. You can harass, you can conjole, you can give him fossil awards until they come out your ying yangs, you can call him and the government names but that is the strategy. He has not bent on that focus since 2006 and that will continue to be the game plan.

    • Since Harper has totally screwed the economy, no one is buying that, hollinm.

      • You are still living in the delusional land of oz Emily. Nobody agrees with you but keep spouting the same old rhetoric if it makes you feel better. Jim Flaherty, newsmaker of the year?

        • I'm sorry, but everybody agrees with me…the fact a LOCAL CANADIAN business paper cheers Flaherty has nothing to do with the real world.

          Flaherty is simply the only name you know.

          • Who Emily agrees with you? Not the OECD. Not the IMF. Economists in general who talk about the economy. Get off the pot and talk reality here. I noticed in the last few days your credibility is under attack and you need to really think about what you are saying on this board.

          • Yes, hollinm…the OECD and the IMF….I do wish you'd get off your back porch.

            My credibility has never been under attack…there is no one here capable of doing so….so stop worrying about my remarks and learn to live with them

          • Uh what ?

            I called you out for making a mistake about the US corporate tax rate.

            You denied it. Then you said I was misquoting you. You were proven wrong.

            I'm pretty sure that counts as having your credibility come under attack lately.

            Lately Cats.

          • 3X you've been stupid now.

            Do you think a cat has credibility? LOL

          • hollinm here Emily's latest on the US corporate tax rates:

            "I said it was low, and compared to most places it is. "
            Its actually the second highest in the world. Ooops!

            I suggest just keeping a mental list of all the factually incorrect statements she's made. A greatest hits of errors.

            Its really helpful when she makes these baseless attacks on Harper to put her record in context.

            Context Cats.

          • Good gawd….4X now, you've been stupid on purpose!

          • I am currently in the States and I have been watching the media bemoaning the fact that Canada reduced its corporate taxes on Jan. 1st and the U.S. c orporate taxes are one of the highest in the world.
            Frankly I don't know where Emily gets her information sometimes.

          • She makes it up as she goes.

    • 'The envirofascists…'

      Does that include the IPCC panel? Or everyone who doesn't think exactly as you do?

    • I think it's obvious that there is a political movement in Canada that is much closer to fascism than environmentalists.

    • Everything you've stated here is just plain obvious. The, ahem, "envirofacists" certainly know this (and even perhaps some moderate average voters by gosh!) and that is one of the reasons why he will never win a majority, ever.

      • Maybe? If the libs/ndp or a coalition can get the younsters off their smart phones and into the polls.

    • 'You can harass, you can conjole, you can give him fossil awards until they come out your ying yangs, you can call him and the government names but that is the strategy. He has not bent on that focus since 2006 and that will continue to be the game plan'

      And if Obama does find a way to lift his game and institute a meaningful carbon reduction plan, and if Harper responds by raising his, you'll be happy right? Cos it's just about competitive avantage with you guys, right? In a pig's ear! You're not intellectually honest on this file!

  3. "climate change policy" is elusive?

    The sheer absurdity that any government can have a policy that affects the Earth's climate, is one thing.

    That we tut tut the fact that such a fictional process is "elusive" underscores how far down the rabbit hole we've gone.

    • Why are you investing so much effort in attempting to prove that there's nothing we can do that would have any effect on the earth's climate? If it's so self evident as you claim surely sooner or later we'll all become aware of it – meanwhile we'll have switched to a more sustainable, healthier, less polluting model for our economies, and or lives – it's gotta happen one day anyway.

      • Whether we can change the earth's climate or not, you are absolutely right. We should move quickly toward a more sustainable, healthier and less poluting life style. We should also help our third world countries accomplish this. I believe the truth of the matter is that we all will have to make sacrifices – you know, live an inconvenient life. It is really hard to be chastised by David Suzuki and Al Gori when they own multiple homes and aren't really lowering their carbon foot-prints in any appreciable way. Now, if they were to move into a 1200 sq ft house like I live in and drive only one car, etc…..

    • Priceless.

    • Interesting that adaptation was mentioned more than just a few times as the premiere/most likely method of dealing with the threat.

      • Given the dragging of feet, adaptation will probably be one of the few options left.

        But Cons are REALLY going to hate the costs of that!

    • Emily, I am sure you could dig up some current research. I saw a leading scientist and Seth Green on Bill Maher. They were discussing climate change and pointing to Mercury as an example of a place where it has occured. Although that example defeats the argument that man had any influence on the outcome, it does provide us with lots of incentive to turn things around if we can.

  4. From the documentary, some 27 years ago.
    Says Peter Kent:

    "We can't stop it, and mankind has only itself to blame for the greenhouse effect."

    "A phenomenon which will eventully cause the greatest global climactic change since prehistoric change." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFRY-uWQov0

    • So then everything Iggy's ever written/said is fair game? Excellent! Game ON!

      • It always has been…which means everything Harper has ever said is fair game.

        Which means you are in serious do-do.

      • I'm just following up on the acceptable standard. But, to be fair, this is pretty groundbreaking stuff, for the time. Much of Ignatieff's writings were slightly less groundbreaking.

  5. Operation 905:

    Flaherty — Minister of lying about Canada's $114 Billion bank bailout ($65B in mortgages bought by CMHC; $4B by CPP; $4B in "temporary liquidity facilities" financed by taxpayers) and making contradictory statements about economic growth and pension reform.
    Kent — Minister (#5 in 5 years) of reading talking points and making cooing noises in Thornhill.
    Fantino — Minister of scaring old people, ensuring that falling crime and pensions don't eat into Conservative votes.

  6. KNOW WHO ELSE SHUFFLED CABINETS?? HITLER, THAT'S WHO!!!!

    • What's up with that MT; we've just spent a thread or two castigating Fantino for that kind of bilge?

    • Hitler wore khaki.

    • Why do you hate the troops, Sourstud?

      • Clever response, idiot.

  7. So essentially, this cabinet shuffle is being used as a way to pander to Toronto, and quell any discontent that could be forming in Alberta. In other words, not much has changed in the makeup of the government. They must figure they have a winning team already. I wonder if Fantino will be allowed to speak in question period, given the gaffes he's made since his election. If he does, I imagine it will be heavily scripted.

  8. I'm surprised no pundits have mused that Menzies' promotion may be a sign of an austerity budget?

  9. Interesting, but not surprising, that Harper didn't take this opportunity to appoint a full-time Minister for Status of Women.

    • Why on earth do we need a Minister for Status of Women? So we can pay more bureaucrats? Good grief and I am a woman incidentally

      • Well for example, women in Canada earn, what, 10-20% less than men for equal work?

        This is generally seen as undesirable, and the Minister for Status of Women is tasked with addressing this, among other issues.

        You didn't mention whether you have an issue with Julian "Grandpa Simpson" Fantino and his army of bureaucrats focused on the plight of the elderly. Heck, why even have a minister for First Nations?

  10. Will the cabinet shakeup really make a difference?

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