Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shuffling the deck

A few notes on the Cons' cabinet shuffle:

- While John Baird will presumably hold up to questioning better than Rona Ambrose did in the Environment role, it's worth noting his own dubious record to date.

Baird's previous assignment likewise involved the Cons' signature piece of legislation for the year. But by the time the Accountability Act became law, it had been drained of many of the Cons' promises and had undergone major revisions to clean up serious drafting oversights...resulting in an awful lot of work for a very small increase in actual accountability. And while that kind of outcome may have been acceptable on a file where the Cons' main competitors genuinely preferred to see nothing done, it won't be good enough in an area where every other federal party has taken up the cause.

Moreover, it was Baird's stubborn refusal to acknowledge the realities of existing election law that exposed the Cons' convention fee scandal. And PMS surely can't relish the prospect of the Cons' similarly-flawed assumptions on the environment coming to light.

- With Wajid Khan apparently not crossing the floor (yet?), it's all the more odd that he wouldn't state any commitment to the Libs when asked about the possibility.

- But while floor-crossing may not be an issue this time out, PMS does seem to have managed to toss yet more cabinet responsibility into the Senate which he so decries - this time by making Marjory LeBreton the Secretary of State for Seniors (in addition to her previous role as Senate governent leader).

- Meanwhile, the streamlined Cabinet which Harper once boasted about seems to be expanding in a hurry with the addition of five new "secretaries of state".

- As for the ministers shuffled around within Cabinet, few of the changes appear likely to make much difference in substance. But it'll be worth keeping an eye out to see whether Rob Nicholson brings a less extreme stance to the Justice role than Vic Toews did - or whether he's simply seen as a more believable voice for the same reactionary policies.

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