Thursday, May 26, 2011

On shadows

A couple of quick notes on the NDP's shadow cabinet announced today...

The most intriguing set of announcements comes in the form of several up-and-coming MPs assigned to a counterintuitive set of roles. Indeed, if one had to guess on the placement of Linda Duncan, Megan Leslie and Romeo Saganash among Environment, Aboriginal Affairs and Natural Resources, one might have wondered what link Leslie had to Natural Resources before guessing wrong at all three.

But as a matter of strengthening the NDP's front benches for years to come, it makes plenty of sense to ensure that a number of its strongest MPs get exposed to multiple different portfolios - making the superficially surprising shifts look to have plenty of potential to help the party's future growth.

That said, there is one slightly worrisome side to the new strategy. Rather than including positions to address issues like poverty, child care, Crown corporations and (particularly surprisingly) youth which have been mentioned in past critic assignments, the new shadow cabinet effectively sticks to the Cons' definitions of the role of government - which has the unfortunate effect of giving no direct critic profile to some of the causes where the NDP's efforts will be most important in highlighting issues the Cons would like to ignore.

Of course, the fact that the NDP hasn't set up critic roles doesn't mean that it can't still raise those issues. But it's still worth being careful about allowing the Cons to define which subject are to be taken off the table for the next four years.

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