Lisa Raitt ascends to leadership contender

Tease the day: The new transport minister has risen steadily since faltering years ago

Never underestimate the internet’s nooks and crannies.

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper shuffled his cabinet earlier this week, we ran a liveblog that captured some of the myriad observations of political nerds across the country. #shuffle13 was a noisy hashtag, an inescapable reality of most conversations on the internet. Among all the chatter was a tweet from Jonathan Scott, the president of the provincial Liberal riding association in York-Simcoe.

Thoughts on #shuffle13: giving Moore, Kenney & Raitt economic ministries is obviously great for their future leadership campaigns

Moore and Kenney are staples of any conversation about Conservative succession planning. But Lisa Raitt? To be sure, Raitt’s promotion to transport minister on Monday was a expression of the prime minister’s confidence in her talent. She escaped scandal during her time as labour minister, in which she took on her share of unions but never suffered publicly for it.

The MP for Halton’s time as natural resources minister, from 2008 until early 2010, was her most challenging as a cabinet minister. Raitt was lambasted by the opposition when her aide left ministerial briefing documents at CTV’s Ottawa bureau, and again when a recording of Raitt surfaced where she made comments about the sexiness—to news media—of a medical isotope shortage, as well as disparaging comments about some of her Conservative colleagues.

Those episodes led to the prime minister shuffling Raitt into her role as labour minister. At the time, Aaron Wherry noted for the record, the prime minister said Raitt had “a great future,” and the new portfolio would “give her a little more varied experience in government.” Maybe the PM was simply deflecting. Raitt’s recent promotion suggests some sincerity on Harper’s part.

Now, in mid-2013, armed with a big portfolio, Raitt’s rehabilitation is complete. But is leadership in the cards? Scott, a Liberal, mused about it. But he’s not the only one. This morning, the National Post‘s John Ivison published front-page speculation that the new transport minister, who’s 45 years old and hasn’t made a lot of enemies, could make a run if the opportunity arose.

A Conservative who hasn’t made a lot of enemies? What a rare breed.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with Canadian Pacific’s tightened rules related to unattended trains on its railways. The National Post fronts the ongoing investigation of last year’s deadly bus explosion in Bulgaria that counts a Lebanese-Canadian among the suspects. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with Toronto city council’s approval of a new suburban subway line that’s contingent on hundreds of millions of uncertain federal dollars. The Ottawa Citizen leads with city council’s hope to build two new casinos in the nation’s capital. iPolitics fronts a rebuttal of popular comparisons of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to former U.S. president Richard Nixon. leads with Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. CTV News leads with Mandela’s improving health as the world celebrates his birthday. National Newswatch showcases former cabinet minister Steven Fletcher’s surprise at being sent to the backbenches.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. EU trade. Even though Canadian and European trade negotiators couldn’t get a deal done before EU-US trade talks commenced, the Europeans remain confident a deal can be done shortly. 2. Montreal. Former interim Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum, who stands accused of 14 criminal charges, received $267,923.90 in severance due to his years of municipal service.
3. Multiculturalism. Jason Kenney, Canada’s employment minister, will remain the government’s point man on multiculturalism—not Chris Alexander, the new immigration minister. 4. Biodiversity. An internal memo warns Environment Canada’s boss that Canada’s biodiversity, responsible for 13 per cent of the country’s GDP, is at risk and needs to be protected.
5. India. Twenty-seven Indian children between the ages of five and 12 died after eating food tainted with insecticide at a school in Bihar, a state in the eastern part of the country. 6. China. Li Jianxin, 47, a Chinese whistleblower who uncovered photos of luxury cars owned by Communist officials, was attacked. He was blinded by acid and had two fingers chopped off.