"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The New Federal Cabinet - Winners and Losers

Rona Ambrose Moves from Environment to Intergovernmental Affairs - Loser

This is a bit of a downgrade for Ambrose but with here skills in this area it is actually a better fit for her. The real winner here: The environment

John Baird Moves from Treasury Board to Environment - Winner

This is an upgrade for Baird but the problem is that the CPC is in negotiations with the other parties (particularly the NDP) when it comes to environment issues. Baird is going to have to drop his "whatever the question in QP kick the shit out of the Liberals" level of partizanship and learn to work and play well with others. The real winner here: The liberal critic for the treasury board.

Rob Nicholson Moves from House Leader to Justice - Winner

This was a big surprise and a major upgrade for Rob Nicholson. Given his stance on things like capital punishment and abortion back in the Mulroney days, look for the same brand of social conservatism as Toews brought to the portfolio. The real winner here: Rob Nicholson

Monte Solberg Mooves from Immigration to Human Resources - Winner

This is a lateral transfer or perhaps an upgrade to Solberg. 'nuff said.

Vic Toews Moves from Justice to Treasury Board - Loser

Serious downgrade for Toews. And as I said earliers, probably not due to his conservative views given who the replacement was. Perhaps he just wan't a good cabinet minister? The real winner: Provincial Justice departments who repotedly hated dealing with Toews' office.

Peter van Loan Moves from Intergovernmental Affairs to House Leader - Loser

He loses a portfolio and a ministery and gains having to shepard things through a minority parliament. The real winner: Rob Nicholson

Jason Kenney as secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity

The real loser: Multiculturalism

Here's an overview of other blogger reactions:

Calgary Grit:

If you take those four spots as young MPs being groomed for future Cabinet positions then, boy, does it ever suck to be James Moore this morning. Diane Ablonczy has also got to be feeling a bit jilted that another Calgary MP got a Cabinet spot before she did.

So that brings us to the shuffle part of this Cabinet shuffle. And it's really a mulligan for Harper. Rona Ambrose's expertise made her a logical choice for Intergovernmental Affairs back in February so that's what she gets now. Not that it really matters since it appears that Harper's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has fewer responsibilities than his chauffeur. Vic Toews was also a brutal choice for Justice but now that the messy Same Sex vote is beyond him, Harper has moved in a much more competent and moderate man to the portfolio. As for Baird...well, good luck - he'll need it. I'm really not sure what to make of the Solberg/Finley moves and I suspect they'll get overshadowed quite a bit; I'd be curious to hear any theories on those ones.

Jason Kenney, former Reform Party MP and extreme right wing ideologue is the new Secretary of State for multiculturalism. His former job as CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has prepared him to be a 'fox in the hen house' and Harper is going to use those skills on multiculturalism.

My Bhlag points out the problems for those who praised Harper's small cabinet earlier

The size of cabinet has increased from 27 to 32 positions, with a smaller percentage of women on the team. So I guess, according to the right whingers, PMS' new cabinet is less effective, less efficient, doesn’t pay attention to the concerns of taxpayers and is now primed for nonsense.
Jason Cherniak

2) Jason Kenney is now in cabinet. To earn this spot he misled Parliament, fibbed in his apology and supported a terrorist organization. He might be a good Parliamentary performer, but I cannot wait for his next big mistake.

3) Dianne Abolonzy has been overlooked again. Harper should be ashamed.

4) A number of Secretaries of State have been added. Harper obviously recognizes now that it was a mistake to start with such a small cabinet. Those Conservatives who lauded him for the move at first will surely condemn him now for backtracking. Or admit that they were wrong...

5) John Baird is good at pushing just about any subject in the most partisan way possible. His selection suggests that Harper was looking for a better salesperson on the environment and not a better policy. I predict that this will not work and Baird will end up looking like a bully.
Accidental Deliberations

While John Baird will presumably hold up to questioning better than Rona Ambrose did in the Environment role, it's worth noting his own dubious record to date.

Baird's previous assignment likewise involved the Cons' signature piece of legislation for the year. But by the time the Accountability Act became law, it had been drained of many of the Cons' promises and had undergone major revisions to clean up serious drafting oversights...resulting in an awful lot of work for a very small increase in actual accountability. And while that kind of outcome may have been acceptable on a file where the Cons' main competitors genuinely preferred to see nothing done, it won't be good enough in an area where every other federal party has taken up the cause.

Moreover, it was Baird's stubborn refusal to acknowledge the realities of existing election law that exposed the Cons' convention fee scandal. And PMS surely can't relish the prospect of the Cons' similarly-flawed assumptions on the environment coming to light.
Galloping Beaver

Ambrose was made the minister of intergovernmental affairs at the morning swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. She will also be minister of western economic diversification

I'm sure she will ponder the state of Prince Rupert, unless she continues to take all her direction from the hacks in the Prime Minister's Office which would result in her doing absolutely nothing of value and blaming the previous government for any and all conditions she feels compelled not to address.

And the final word, fittingly, goes to Paul Wells:

Have you noticed that cabinet shuffles routinely get more attention than, say, cabinets do? Does it particularly matter which minister holds which portfolio if, after nearly a year, packs of trained pundits can't identify photos of some of them?