Cabinet shuffle pre-shuffle information

There’s been a lot of speculation in Ottawa this week about the imminent cabinet shuffle as a number of ministers have announced their retirement from federal politics. Here’s what we know.

Shuffle date:
We’re hearing that the shuffle is now scheduled for tomorrow (Monday)

Who is out:
Confirmed retirements: Toews (Public Safety), Ablonczy (DFATD, Consular affairs), Menzies (Associate minister of finance), Ashfield (Fisheries, ACOA)

Likely retirements: Kent (Environment), Ritz (Agriculture), O’Connor (Whip)

With O’Connor retiring, we’ve independently confirmed that Pierre Poilievre is getting the promotion and will sit as the other National Capital Region minister in cabinet with John Baird.

I’ve also heard that MacKay will be shuffled in a one-for-one swap where his legal skills will be of use (likely Justice). This was a shuffle certainty a while ago but this might have changed since.

With Ashfield out, Rob Moore is his likely (but unconfirmed) replacement.

Nobody expects Jim Flaherty to be shuffled out of Finance as his intention is to balance the budget by the next election.

We’re told the Prime Minister had fireside chats with members of his cabinet and from caucus to discuss their future plans. Older ministers who are retiring have been asked to step aside for new blood. Older ministers who have not indicated an intention to retire may have been asked to do the same (Kent). The only exception to this might be Flaherty and Oliver (both are in critically important political files at key junction points — Flaherty and budget balance and Oliver on the KXL decision).

One of my sources on the cabinet shuffle told me to expect a lot of new faces in cabinet.

Shelly Glover has been spotted in Ottawa today. She is a Manitoba MP who many observers speculate will be occupying a chair at Prime Minister Harper’s cabinet table.

I will update this post as I learn more.

Liveblogging the cabinet shuffle

9:52AM: Rob Nicholson, Gail Shea, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent and Peter van Loan, Chuck Strahl show up to Rideau Hall

9:52AM: And Christian Paradis, Jim Prentice. CTV has speculated Prentice to environment.

9:54AM: John Baird has arrived.

9:55AM: Some MPs showing up in Blue Line cabs, some in airport cabs, some in their own cars.

9:55AM: Rona Ambrose shows up. Rumour is she’ll move to HRSDC.

10:00AM: Lynne Yelich is at Rideau Hall and Stockwell Day

10:01AM: James Moore arrives

10:03AM: Rahim Jaffer has shown up. Probably to support his newlywed wife Helena Guergis.

10:06AM: Jim Flaherty arrives with wife Christine Elliot.

10:08AM: The Prime Minister’s motorcade makes its way up to Rideau Hall.

10:16AM: Rumour is that Jason Kenney is moving to Citizenship and Immigration. You heard it here first.

10:25AM: Cabinet embargo about to end. Should have the list up soon.

10:31AM: Other MPs at Rideau Hall: Bev Oda, Peter MacKay, Keith Ashfield, Gary Lunn, Chuck Strahl, Gordon O’Conner, Tony Clement, Gerry Ritz, Stephen Fletcher, and Lawrence Cannon.

10:40AM: Here we go. Here comes cabinet into the hall.

10:44AM: Nicholson stays in Justice, no surprise there.

10:45AM: Greg Thompson at Veterans Affairs, Chuck Strahl at INAC, Vic Toews at Treasury Board

10:48AM: Bev Oda at CIDA, Flaherty at Finance, Gerry Ritz at Agriculture

10:50AM: Jean-Pierre Blackburn to Revenue. Aglukkaq to Health. Finley to HRSRC.

10:55AM: Raitt to NRCan, Day to International Trade and Asia-Pacific Gateway.

10:55AM: Ambrose to Labour.

10:58AM: Prentice to environment. The could be to negotiate new regs with the provinces when it comes to GHG emissions. Alberta will need to sit down with the federal government soon to finalize the new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

11:00AM: Baird goes to Transport/Infrastructure.

11:01AM: Cannon goes to Foreign Affairs.

11:02AM: Tony Clement goes to Industry.

11:05AM: Josee Verner to intergovernmental affairs.

11:05AM: Jay Hill to House Leader.

11:05AM: PVL to Public Safety.

11:07AM: Jason Kenney to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

11:08AM: Christian Paradis to Public Works.

11:09AM: James Moore to Heritage and Official Languages.

11:14AM: Gail Shea to Fisheries.

11:16AM: Gary Lunn to Sport.

11:17AM: Gordon O’Connor to Government Whip.

11:18AM: Helena Guergis to Status of Women.

11:19AM: Diane Ablonczy stays at Small Business.

11:20AM: Rob Merrifield to Minister of State (Transport).

11:22AM: Lynne Yelich to Western Economic Diversification.

11:24AM: Steven Fletcher to Democratic Reform.

11:27AM: Gary Goodyear to Minister of State for Science and Technology. Goodyear will work closely with Minister of Industry Tony Clement.

11:29AM: Denis Lebel to economic development for Quebec. Lebel will be the cash man for Quebec and this will help him electorally.

11:31AM: Keith Ashfield to ACOA.

11:32AM: Peter Kent to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).

From cold cuts to cold guts

Putin’s puppet in Moscow just handed Stephen Harper a gift which will allow him to change the channel from Ritz,

President Medvedev threatens Russian Arctic annexation

Russia triggered a fresh scramble for the oil wealth of the Arctic yesterday when President Medvedev called on his security chiefs to establish a formal border in the region.

Mr Medvedev laid claim to a vast tranche of the Arctic, telling his National Security Council that it had “strategic importance” for Russia. The US Geological Survey estimates that the region contains 90 billion barrels of oil, as well as gas reserves – all of it increasingly accessible as global warming shrinks the ice cap.

“We must wrap up all the formalities for drawing the external border in the continental shelf. This is our direct responsibility to future generations,” Mr Medvedev told the Kremlin meeting.

Since the last throne speech, Stephen Harper has been pushing arctic sovereignty as an issue and polling shows that the issue is important to Canadians. Over the past four decades, the Liberals have claimed many facets of Canadian nationalism, but the arctic and defense of our northern border has been a hallmark of Prime Minister Harper’s administration.

Flashback to the last election when Paul Martin was seen to have orchestrated a diplomatic incident with the United States over softwood lumber. In contrast, this would be an international event which Harper could react to rather than contrive. Leadership is a key theme for this election and Harper’s defense of Canada’s arctic sovereignty would underline this advantage that Harper has over the other leaders.

To paraphrase a famous person,

“It’s like a really bad Disney movie, you know. The professor, you know. ‘I’m just a professor of sociology from Montreal” and he’s the Prime Minister. And it’s like he’s facing down Vladamir Putin and using the quaint little Green Shift stuff he learned from Al Gore. It’s absurd. It’s totally absurd.”

New Cabinet

The cabinet has been shuffled.

Solberg is at Rideau Hall to accompany his good friend Chuck Strahl. Monte will not be getting a new portfolio. He will remain in HRSDC.

Monte’s pal Strahl goes to Indian Affairs. A good upgrade especially as a BC minister.

MacKay goes to defense and keeps ACOA. The higher visibility should help the Tories regain some ground in Atlantic Canada.

O’Connor to revenue. As the most obvious prediction of a portfolio change, some thought O’Connor would go to Veterens Affairs. The former defense minister now goes to a largely administrative portfolio.

Oda to international cooperation. Oda replaces Josee Verner in this portfolio. Some say she was a poor communicator in Heritage, lacking the ability to speak French, she now takes over the CIDA portfolio.

Jim Prentice goes to Industry taking over for Maxime Bernier. Prentice is said to be the hardest working minister in Harper’s cabinet and will bring his work ethic to this new portfolio.

Maxime Bernier is tapped for foreign affairs. Such a move will have both the effect of raising Bernier’s portfolio and gives Quebec a minister in a more elite department. Further, as Quebec’s Van Doos soldiers are in Afghanistan, having a good communicator in this portfolio from the province.

Josee Verner to Canadian Heritage/Women/Languages. An Oda/Vernier swap. Vernier gets promoted and Oda demoted. Verner will be well positioned to celebrate Quebec City’s 400th anniversary.

Gerry Ritz to Agriculture/Wheat Board. A promotion for the Saskatchewan MP was pretty much assured when fellow Saskatchewan MP Skelton announced her retirement. Skelton being that province’s sole representation in cabinet, her resignation created an opening for a Saskatchewan MP. I’ve heard that Ritz will press forward on market choice and fight against the Wheat Board.

And, Diane Ablonczy finally gets her due as Secretary of State for Small Business and Tourism…

…which puts a wee blotch on my cabinet prediction! I predicted that no backbencher would be promoted to cabinet. Perhaps this was an 11th hour decision?

But, as I predicted, nobody lost their job and it was a significant shuffle. Cabinet did not grow in size. Also, as predicted, Day and Baird stay in their portfolios.

Further, Bernier was shuffled, but not to defense nor finance as some predicted.

So, is this Canada’s New New Government? What are your thoughts? Does this put a new face on the Conservative government? Cheers, Jeers? Did Harper make a good shuffle today? The Globe reported that Harper would be decreasing the size of cabinet in order to prepare for an election. However, the usual knowledge is that cabinet in fact grows prior to an election to promote seats and as many faces as possible.

The Prime Minister is likely to prorogue Parliament and go ahead with a throne speech this fall. This shuffle is also timed to give ministers enough time to process their MCs and move forward before the fall. The PM will also draw thoughts from his new ministers for the expected throne speech.

Rumours and fact

Yesterday, I reported at 1:30pm that no cabmin would lose their job and that cabinet would grow. Craig Oliver broke the news in the MSM about 8.5 hours later on CTV nightly newscast.

I’ve been tapping many contacts and will confidently predict that one of my minor predictions yesterday was actually wrong. Yesterday, I predicted that there wouldn’t be any growth from Alberta in cabinet.

Today, I can confidently predict that we will see Alberta get more representation in cabinet.

The Toronto Star is reporting that Wajid Khan is going to be appointed to cabinet this morning. My friends at CTV say that they won’t touch that speculation. Good for CTV, I’ve just heard that Wajid Khan will not be joining Harper’s cabinet this morning.

UPDATE 10:22am: Ontario MP Guergis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:22am: Quebec MP Paradis in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:23am: Saskatchewan MP Ritz in cabinet.

UPDATE 10:26am: Jaffer arrived with Guergis. Speculation: Is Jaffer the the new Alberta representation?

UDPATE 10:30am: Confirmed by Ambrose. She’s out of the environment portfolio.

UPDATE: New jobs: Ambrose (intergovernmental affairs?), Baird (environment?), Solberg, Kenney (in cabinet), Toews (treasury board?), Finley, Van Loan, Jay Hill (in cabinet).

Official news: Nicholson goes to Justice and Attorney General, Lebreton gets Sec. of State (seniors), Solberg goes to Human Resources and Social Development, Toews goes to Treasury Board, Finley goes to Citizenship and Immigration, Ambrose goes to Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Privy Council, Van Loan goes to House Leader, Baird goes to Environment, Hill gets Sec. of State, Guergis gets Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade and Sport, Kenney gets Sec of State for Multiculturalism, Paradis gets Sec of State for Agriculture, Ritz gets Sec of State for Small Business and Tourism.