Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed eight new MPs to cabinet Monday, half of them women. But some familiar faces remained, while others were on their way out. And some were back in.
Chris Alexander, Citizenship and Immigration Minister: A rising star in the Conservative caucus, Alexander takes over from Jason Kenney. Canada’s first resident ambassador in Kabul and the United Nation’s deputy special representative in Afghanistan (he wrote a book on the subject, A Long Way Back: Afghanistan’s Quest for Peace), Alexander was elected in 2011. He was one of two new ministers (along with Michelle Rempel) to take questions from the media Monday – a telltale sign he is sure to become one of the most prominent faces of the party.
Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development: The former parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister earned her political stripes through her private member’s bill to end the long-gun registry. Although the bill didn’t pass (it eventually did as a government bill), her work on the file earned Bergen street cred among the Conservative base. The mother of three has a background in the financial planning industry and worked on Harper’s leadership campaign in Manitoba in 2004. Her new job pairs her with Kenney on skills training.
Shelly Glover, Heritage Minister and Minister for Official Languages: The former Winnipeg cop gets a huge promotion from her job as parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance as she takes over for James Moore. Known for her partisan style, Glover is proficient in French and is also Metis. She has recently run into trouble with Elections Canada regarding her 2011 election spending.
Kellie Leitch, Labour Minister and Minister for Status of Women: The pediatric orthopedic surgeon (you read that right) moves up from her post as parliamentary secretary to human resources and labour. First elected in 2011, Leitch beat embattled former Conservative Helena Guergis. She is straightforward and dry – a calming presence for labour negotiations, perhaps, where tensions sometimes run high.
Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification: Rempel joins Alexander as the new face of the party – young, smart, friendly and tech-savvy (Rempel is an avid Tweeter). As parliamentary secretary to environment, the 33-year-old proved herself a confident and capable speaker in the House of Commons and political TV shows. The Calgary MP with a degree in economics worked for the University of Calgary and has a background in fostering academic and business research partnership as well as management consulting.
Greg Rickford, Minister of State for Science and Technology, and Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario: The Kenora, Ont. MP gets promoted from his post as parliamentary secretary for aboriginal affairs and now takes over from Industry Minister Tony Clement as the minister responsible for projects in Ontario’s North. Rickford has a background as a nurse and lawyer and worked in First Nations communities.
Pierre Poilievre, Minister of State for Democratic Reform: One of the more controversial appointments to cabinet, Poilievre is known for his unflinching (at times, repetitive) defence of the government. At only 34, he already has almost a decade of experience in the House of Commons, and his political partisanship is often on display. Courtesy of Canadian Press, a choice quote: “The root cause of terrorism is terrorists.” — Poilievre on CBC, responding to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s comments after the Boston bombings.
Kevin Sorensen, Minister of State for Finance: Sorensen takes over from Ted Menzies, who announced he would be stepping down in 2015 and asked to be taken out of cabinet. The Alberta backbencher was elected in 2000 and has never held a role in government.
Peter Kent: As Environment Minister, the former TV journalist (he was deputy editor at Global News) wrote a note on his Facebook page July 5 signalling his own demotion: “If, in the fullness of time and the eventual shuffle, I do find myself a backbench Parliamentarian, I will enthusiastically embrace what will be, for me, exciting new challenges.” Time, it turns out, has spoken.
Steven Fletcher: The former Minister of State for Transport is Canada’s first and only quadriplegic MP. He showed his humourous side when he was shuffled out of cabinet Monday by tweeting, “I am Conservative. I am a traditionalist. I wish I left Cabinet in the traditional way— with a sex scandal!” Perhaps we can expect more jokes now that he’s on the back bench.
Gordon O’Connor: The chief government whip, known for skillfully evading reporters’ questions, is gone. His stern demeanour was on display this sitting during the so-called “backbench rebellion” and its endless hockey metaphors, with O’Connor playing the role as coach. At 74, it’s likely he won’t run again in 2015.
What stayed the same?
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty: Harper’s only finance minister since 2006 keeps his post in the shuffle. He told the press Monday “we’ll get the budget balanced” – his goal by 2015.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird: Known as the government pit bull, the fast-tongued Baird is front and centre in question period, and stays on as Canada’s representative abroad.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver: The 73-year-old was only elected in 2011 but has been working hard to promote Canada’s oil sands.
International Trade Minister Ed Fast: Fast stays on in his role to finish up his work on a yet-unsigned Canada-EU trade deal.
House Leader Peter Van Loan: The most surprising cabinet member to stay on in light of a “significant” shuffle, Van Loan took heat this session when the caucus back bench showed signs of rebellion for the first time in Harper’s tenure. It looks like the prime minister still has faith.
Rob Moore: The New Brunswick MP becomes Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, after being bumped from his previous position in 2011 as Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism. Moore was also the MP involved in the recent Grace Foundation incident in which a seniors’ charity with Conservative ties asked Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to return his speaking fees.
John Duncan: The former aboriginal affairs minister resigned in February amid revelations he wrote a letter on behalf of a constituent to the Tax Court of Canada. But he’s been forgiven, back in cabinet as chief government whip.
© Shaw Media, 2013