Monday, January 08, 2007

Ambrose Survives Cabinet Shuffle Smelling Like a Rose

For those who think Rona Ambrose was benched or even marginalized in the recent Harper Cabinet shuffle, should think again. Sure she is no longer on the short leash she suffered as Environment Minister. That issue is becoming the “hot button” political and policy area leading up to the next election and the jury is out on John Baird . I am still optimistic he will get enough latitude to change things in the Harper government culture.

Intergovernmental Affairs is a brain trust portfolio with lot of interesting issues and complexity. This is a perfect place for someone like Ambrose who loves a challenge with interesting issues and moving targets and drama. I have noted in earlier postings I expect Ambrose to flourish in this arena.

The equally, if not more interesting development coming out of the Cabinet shuffle for Ambrose are the side bars to her appointment. As head of Western Economic Diversification I expect she will become very activitist as the face of the Harper government in the WED primary areas community development, innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the west. This should help assure her re-election and allow her to do some good too.

The other very interesting sidebar is her influence as President of the Queen’s Privy Council and her committee assignments. She sits on three of the seven key Cabinet committees and two of them are chaired by Jim Prentice the de facto Deputy Prime Minister. Prentice, by the way, sits or chairs a full five committees and takes care of a full portfolio as well as being the political Minister for Alberta. Jim Prentice has to be the hardest working guy on the Hill.

Ambrose sits on Prentice’s Operations Committee that does the day-to-day coordination of the government agenda, issues management, legislation, house planning and communications. All of it is critical stuff for the continuing success of the Harper government going into the next election.

The next Ambrose committee is Social Affairs that deals with issues around health care, justice, aboriginal, training and skills development, culture and immigration policy issues. Again we see a plethora of critical issues and concern to Canadians.

Finally she sits on the new Environment and Energy Security Committee that is chaired again by Prentice. Here is the place where the environment and the economy will be balanced with concerns over energy security ad related policy issues.

Anyone who thinks Ambrose is out of the loop in this Cabinet shuffle is not looking at the devil in the details and the fine print behind the press releases. To focus on the typical personality driven news noise coverage of who is in, who is out, who is a comer and who is falling from grace is to miss a great deal of the import and impact of the shuffle. By any objective measure Ambrose has done very well through it all.