Canada’s New Cabinet…Who’s in it?
Last Tuesday, a number of changes to the federal ministry meant some significant developments in the make of the Cabinet. The most significant came with the demotion of Gordon O’Connor as Minister of Revenue from the National Defence portfolio. Poor communication skills in Canada’s role in Afghanistan no doubt played a role in this change. Mr. O’Connor can nonetheless be satisfied he has maintained his role in the Cabinet.
Chuck Strahl has taken over the portfolio of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. This portfolio was being managed by Jim Prentice, a higher performing Minister who he himself has been promoted to the Industry portfolio. Peter MacKay, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs has taken over the Defence portfolio from embattled Gordon O’Connor. Long recognized as a strong communicator, the Prime Minister will be counting on him to better the persona of the government and better communicate Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan – a weakening aspect in the tory position in the polls.
Bev Oda has been moved from the Heritage portfolio to International Development and in her place, Josée Verner has moved in as the new Minister of Heritage.
Beginning to be recognized in a higher light of prominence in Quebec for the Conservative government, Maxime Bernier’s performance as Minister of Industry has motivated the Prime Minister to placing him in the role of Foreign Affairs. With opposition to Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan most prominent in Quebec, Prime Minister Harper is no doubt seeking a strong francophone communicator as Minister in a high profile section of where the tories seem to be losing points. With MacKay communicating Afghanistan to English Canada and Bernier communicating to French Canada, the goal of shoring up this soft point of support in advance of an election presents an interesting scenario.
The final changes in the federal ministry comes in the agriculture portfolios and at the junior ministry level. The only new additions to the cabinet came from the arrival of Gerry Ritz as the new Minister of Agriculture and Diane Ablonczy as Secretary of State for Small Business.
Many have criticized the changes as merely cosmetic. In my estimation, time will tell. It is clear however, that these changes were made to better the communicating abilities of the government as it seeks winning conditions for an eventual election call.
Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a Government Relations consultancy. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting the newsletter section of his website.