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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Harper's Cabinet Looks Good!

I like the Harper Party Cabinet. It has the trappings of an activitist government with his best people in portfolios that are key policy issues. There will be the usual scorecard calculations of winners and losers but I would rather focus on the good things I see in the new Cabinet.

First is Flaherty remaining in Finance is very important for continuity in these turbulent times. Next best move is Prentice to Environment. This is a critical issue for Harper and he obviously recognizes it with the appointment of his resident “Fixer” into this very contentious portfolio.

Alberta is already suspicious of Harper’s inclination to interfere in natural resources jurisdiction with his bitumen export remarks. Prentice will have to work with the amalgam of the environment and the economy as a whole systems approach. If anyone can do this, Prentice can and with a weak player like Clement in Industry, Prentice will be able to do what is needed without much push-back internally.

Next smart move is James Moore to Heritage. Verner was a dud and this guy has talent and is a quick study. He will not be a strong voice for arts and culture per se but he will be a champion for cultural industries going forward.

Baird is a doer and will have his hands full in Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Likely to be the busiest guy in Cabinet as the economy turns down and public works project gear up in response. He is a great choice and he leaves some good feelings behind in Environment especially around parks policy.

Lisa Raitt in Natural Resources and Leona Aqlukkaq in Health are bold moves that deserve to be applauded…and not because they are women. Key portfolios to two newbie’s augers well for some chances for more openness and perhaps real participation by Cabinet members in policy beyond Harper as the one-man show. Time will tell.

Other clever moves are in the Minister of State functions like Rob Merrifield in Transportation, Fletcher in Democratic Reform – whatever that is, and Peter Kent in Foreign Affairs concentrating on the Americas.

Disappointments are Ablonczy not getting a promotion and James Rajotte still on the outside. Gerry Ritz is a survivor and Peter Van Loan replacing Stockwell Day in Public Safety is not encouraging…Peter is a pit bull in a china shop.

Big losers are Lunn and Verner, Clement. O’Connor, Guergis – all well deserved demotions.