Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cabinet Wishes & Cabinet Predictions:

So, after my half-hearted effort last week, I thought I'd design the strongest Cabinet available to the Conservatives. Then, I decided what would actually happen. You'll find a few of the titles have changed to a more dignified form.

The Perfect Cabinet:

Prime Minister: Stephen Harper
Deputy Prime Minister
& Domestic Security: Lawrence Cannon
Finance: Monte Solberg
Foreign Affairs: Stockwell Day
Secretary of State for International Trade: Garth Turner
Secretary of State for International Cooperation: Diane Finley
Justice & Attorney-General: Peter MacKay
War: Jim Flaherty
Health: Tony Clement
Secretary of State for Public Health & Sport: Stephen Fletcher
National Revenue: Jason Kenney
President of the Queen's Privy Council: Peter Van Loan
Constitutional Relations: Rona Ambrose
Immigration: Diane Ablonczy
Agriculture: Gerry Ritz
Indian Affairs: Jim Prentice
The Natural Patrimony: Gary Lunn
Natural Resources: Jay Hill
Industry: Maxime Bernier
Transportation: Carol Skelton
Heritage: Bev Oda
Public Works: John Baird
Fisheries: Loyola Hearn
Rural Development & ACOA: Greg Thompson
Human Resources: Rob Nicholson
Social Development: Josée Verner
Veterans' Affairs: Gordon O'Connor
Housing & Labour: Vic Toews
Leader of the Government in The Commons: Chuck Strahl
Leader of the Government In The Senate
& President of the Treasury Board: Hugh Segal

General justification for all of this? Firstly, the obvious: Bev Oda for Canadian Heritage; Loyola Hearn for Fisheries; Jim Prentice for Indian Affairs and Hugh Segal for Senate Leader. Counting votes, it would seem that one is best off keeping Milliken as Speaker, so there needs to be a role for Chuck Strahl, but preferably one that is not too demanding due to his health. House Leader fits his capabilities well, and should mean his days aren't as long as his Cabinet colleagues. That means Jay Hill really ought to get into Cabinet.

For Finance, I've heard four names mentioned: Solberg, the current critic, Flaherty, former Finance Minister under Mike Harris, Maxime Bernier, an economic whiz from Quebec, and Rob Nicholson, a well-respected Ontario MP. It's hard to see Nicholson sneaking in, as he has the drawbacks of both Bernier and Flaherty without the positives. A budget has to be delivered in a few months, so experience is needed, ruling out Bernier. Solberg is from Alberta, which is a detraction, but Flaherty isn't nearly as familiar with federal finances as Solberg, so Solberg gets the nod. Maxime Bernier needs something economic, both because his talents lie there and because I've given non-economic posts to the other Quebec Ministers, so he fits into Industry, from whence he can move into Finance if the wind so blows.

Vic Toews hasn't impressed me as Justice critic, and there needs to be found a prominent place for the current Deputy Leader, so Peter MacKay, a former prosecutor gets Justice. Vic Toews, a former provincial Labour Minister, fits into Housing & Labour. Stockwell Day needs to be in one of the top slots, and the obvious one is Foreign Affairs, where he's done an excellent job as critic, and proven himself able to function within the team, rather than as leader. Can Stockwell restrain his enthousiasm for our Southern neighbours sufficiently? I'm betting so.
Where to put the Ontarians? Jim Flaherty and Tony Clement both merit and will prove boons in senior Cabinet roles. Clement seems to be tipped for Health all over the place, and I concur. Stephen Fletcher gets the junior portfolio. As for Flaherty, National Defence would appear apt, as we've already filled the senior economic portfolios. Lawrence Cannon needs a role as well as Deputy PM, and Public Safety makes a good deal of sense.

The Tory position on Child Care faces its toughest challenge and greatest opportunity in Quebec, so Josée Verner gets the job- it also helps that she's a mother of three children. Rona Ambrose was an Intergovernmental civil servant in Alberta, and will step into that role in an inexperienced Government. Diane Ablonczy steps Cabinet in the same role she played in Shadow Cabinet, while Jason Kenney needs to find something respectable, without much prominance so he can continue to be one of the chief intellectuals on the right of the party; a Minister-Without-Portfolio slot with a portfolio. So he gets Revenue, while Peter Van Loan, PC organizer extraordinaire needs a similar position, and so takes the Queen's Privy Council position.

We've still got Environment open, and Bob Mills is one of the victims of the surfeit of Alberta talent. Trouble is, there's nobody obvious to take the role. While I thought briefly on Clement landing here, I've decided to give it to Gary Lunn, an extremely able fellow and charming; both qualities needed to be Environment Minister in a Tory administration. He also comes from the BC Coast, where Environmentalism is strongest, and his riding contains the greatest concentration of Greens in Canada. Jay Hill from Prince George reflects the other side of BC, the resource industry side, and so gets Natural Resources.

As another blogger pointed out, the new Government is going to need someone intimately familiar with the workings of the Federal Government to oversee the Treasury Board and help implement Gomery's recommendations, and so Hugh Segal gets a portfolio to go with his leadership in the Senate. O'Connor ends up in Veteran's affairs, while Garth Turner goes to International Trade, where his financial background will suit and he can act as a counterbalance to Stockwell in the senior position. Saskatchewan gets Agriculture via Gerry Ritz, which leaves a Baird, Finley, Skelton and Greg Thompson without portfolios; and only three obvious portfolios to be had. So I've created a portfolio for Thompson, which is basically ACOA with a slightly broader theme. Assigning the last portfolios between Finley, Skelton and Baird was essentially arbitrary. Purposefully out of Cabinet: James Moore who gets displaced by the lower-profile but more admirable Gary Lunn.

As for the Cabinet I'll bet Harper will actually choose, I'll take my advice as above, with a few changes: Jason Kenney takes over Treasury Board, which allows James Moore to take charge of Revenue. Flaherty to Finance, Solberg to Foreign Affairs, Day to National Defence. Greg Thompson takes the Environment Ministry while Gary Lunn fails to make it into Cabinet and the Rural Dev/ACOA Ministerial responsibilities no longer stand alone.


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