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.
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.
Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney is being touted as a serious contender for a full cabinet portfolio as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Kenney, a workhorse of the Conservative government, would retain his duties in Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity but bring these under the umbrella of CIC.
Kenney’s duties since January of 2007 when he took on the Sec. State position have been to connect new Canadians, and the various communities they populate, with the government of Canada and unofficially advocate as a Conservative ambassador to these groups on behalf of the party.
The Conservative Party has had an active strategy of reaching out to these constituencies to break what has been seen as a lock on these groups by the Liberal Party since Trudeau.
UPDATE: I have heard that Prentice is already meeting with significant stakeholders (innovative green technology firms) behind the scenes and that the Conservatives may already be developing a new green strategy (the “Green Phoenix” perhaps?). Regardless, I should mention that the following is still speculative rumour. The proceeding information is based on a few fairly good sources.
Jim Prentice moves into Environment.
Ambrose shifted to Intergovernmental Affairs replacing Van Loan.
Van Loan goes to Indian Affairs.
Prentice is considered by most insiders in official Ottawa to be the Prime Minister’s de facto deputy (even though he is not officially named as such).
Does this indicate that the Conservatives are putting increased focus on buffering themselves on the environmental file should it become a campaign issue?
Even though Dion’s record on greenhouses gases is virtually all hot air, I wonder if the polls are telling the long term strategic planners in the PMO that such a pragmatic cabinet shift is worth the nod of recognition that the Clean Air Act was widely reviewed as a lemon.
This move may have been planned to show movement on the file which may yet become a sleeper issue during the next campaign. I’m still skeptical of the notion that a significant number of voters will make green issues the deciding factors on their ballot, but internal polls may be showing an increasing trend.
Back on January 25th, I predicted that the PM-elect would name Ambrose to Intergovernmental Affairs. Prior to her election to federal office, Ambrose was the Senior Intergovernmental Officer with the International and Intergovernmental Relations department of the Government of Alberta.