Following the recent federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his new Cabinet on October 30, 2008. The Cabinet grew from 31 in 2006 to 38 members, and now contains 11 women, up from 7. In choosing his cabinet, Prime Minister Harper sought to reflect the diversity of this country and carefully balance his caucus with members coming from all parts of Canada, from Nunavut, to British Columbia to Prince Edward Island.
The focus of this new cabinet is protecting Canadians and strengthening Canada’s position during this period of global economic uncertainty. Prime Minister Harper explained "while the fundamentals of Canada’s economy remain stronger, more stable and more durable than those of many other nations, it is clear that we are not immune to what happens outside our borders," and "that is why the central responsibility of our new mandate will be to ensure that Canada’s businesses and families have the security they need to weather any global economic storm."
The composition of this second Harper Cabinet suggests that this new larger Conservative minority will depend on a mix of experienced veterans and newly elected members, coming from traditionally non-conservative parts of Canada. As part of the strong economic focus of the new Cabinet, Prime Minister Harper announced that key economic portfolios would remain in the hands of cabinet veterans to help stability: Jim Flaherty remains as Minister of Finance and Peter MacKay will remain as Minister of Defense.
Other notables continuing in their prior Cabinet positions include: Christian Paradis as Minister of Public Works, Robert Nicholson as Minister of Justice, Chuck Strahl as Minister of Indian Affairs, Vic Toews as President of the Treasury Board, Beverley J. Oda as International Co-operation Minister and Gregory Thompson as Minister of Veterans Affairs. One surprise was Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who sparked controversy over jokes he made about the listeriosis outbreak during the election, remains in his post.
The Prime Minister did shake up the group responsible for working with other parties in the House of Commons. This perhaps demonstrates the government wants to move away from the partisan and adversarial approach. Jay Hill takes over as House leader and Gordon O'Connor replaces Mr. Hill as Chief Government Whip.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made more than a dozen cabinet changes: moving Lawrence Cannon to Foreign Affairs, Tony Clement to Industry and Jim Prentice to Environment. The selection of these three veterans indicates that Prime Minister Harper wants experience for key portfolios. Minister Prentice inherits a potentially explosive portfolio that may be the most important in the next Parliament. Former Environment Minister, John Baird, takes over Transport, which was vacant with Cannon going to Foreign Affairs. Stockwell Day, who will move to International Trade from Public Safety, a post now held by Peter Van Loan. Jason Kenney, takes over Citizenship and Immigration. James Moore, the current Secretary of State for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, takes over Heritage.
Some changes were viewed by outsiders as demotions. Gary Lunn, who had been the Minister of Natural Resources will now be the Minister of State for Sport. Josée Verner, the previous Culture Minister, takes over Intergovernmental Affairs. Her program cuts prior to the elections were seen as one of the main reasons the Conservatives could not win a majority, as they could not make the desired breakthroughs in Québec.
Prime Minister Harper also welcomes several first-time Cabinet ministers who will bring a broad range of experience to the Cabinet table. Although, they have no prior experience at the federal level, but they have played roles either at the provincial or municipal level or in the private sector. Some new faces acquiring important portfolios include rookie female MPs, Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut's former health minister, who takes over the federal Health Ministry, and Lisa Raitt, the former chief executive officer of the Toronto Port Authority, who becomes the Natural Resources Minister. Also, Gail Shea, a longtime provincial minister who won a seat in P.E.I., has been given the Fisheries Ministry.
The Cabinet Committee structure has been expanded to better tackle the key questions facing this new government. The chairs of the two main committees reflect the stability that the Prime Minister is looking for in this new session of Parliament. Jim Prentice chairs the Committee on Operations, while Prime Minister Harper stays on as Chair of the Priorities and Planning Committee. The five other policy committees are Social Affairs, Economic Growth and Long-Term Prosperity, Foreign Affairs and Security, Environment and Energy Security and Afghanistan. Chuck Strahl, Tony Clement, Peter MacKay, John Baird and Stockwell Day will chair these committees respectively. Finally, Vic Toews, as President of the Treasury Board, chairs the Treasury Board Committee.
The government will resume the new session of Parliament on Nov 17th. The first order of business is to elect a Speaker. The Government will announce its priorities for the next session with a Throne Speech on Nov. 19th. The Prime Minister will meet with the Premiers to discuss the economy on November 10th followed by a trip to Washington on November 15th for a G20 summit on the global capital market crisis.
THE CANADIAN MINISTRY (in order of date appointed to the Privy Council, and first date elected to the House of Commons)
The Right Honourable Stephen Joseph Harper, Prime Minister
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)
The Honourable Gregory Francis Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs
The Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister of State (Seniors)
The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway
The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
The Honourable Vic Toews, President of the Treasury Board
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Labour
The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation
The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment
The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry
The Honourable James Michael Flaherty, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Josée Verner, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister for La Francophonie
The Honourable Jay D. Hill, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety
The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism
The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services
The Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources
The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of State (Sport)
The Honourable Gordon O’Connor, Minister of State and Chief Government Whip
The Honourable Helena Guergis, Minister of State (Status of Women)
The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism)
The Honourable Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport)
The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification)
The Honourable Steven John Fletcher, Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology)
The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)
The Honourable Keith Ashfield, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)
The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)