This story should put the kibosh on all that speculation of a major cabinet shuffle in the works – one that would see Jim Prentice and Jim Flaherty switch jobs. This was always an awful idea. Flaherty’s been a big-spending mess of a Finance minister, but Prentice would almost certainly be worse: at Industry, he has taken a series of decisions at Industry that can only be described as anti-market, anti-consumer, anti-competition, and anti-trade – which makes him a favourite with the current crop of Tories, who praise his “pragmatism.”
On the other hand, there is still the matter of replacing the departed Maxime Bernier at Foreign Affairs. My suggestion: Jim Prentice. Everything that makes him wrong for an economic portfolio – the disdain for fixed principle, the concern for appearances, the reflexive triangulation – makes him the perfect diplomat. He’s a “safe pair of hands,” as they say, and is known to enjoy Harper’s confidence: Foreign capitals could be sure he spoke for the government. It would be a fitting promotion for a minister who has performed well politically, but who should be kept far, far away from the economic levers.
CODA: And for Industry? It’s obvious: chair of the Commons Industry committee, the former Conservative Industry critic, James (Jim) Rajotte.