Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stephen Harper is definitely not hip!

Good Day Readers:

While the Prime Minister and his Conservatives would like voters to think the recent cabinet shuffle is a rebranding for the new generation is it?

There are only 6 cabinet posts that really matter and where the vast preponderance of power resides:

Treasury Board
Foreign Affiars
Natural Resources

It's the same old, same old tired male faces who've been shuffled around these key portfolios. For the rest of the cabinet sorry but you're fringe/bit players.

Clare L. Pieuk
All change?
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
FOR A party that trumpets the virtues of small government, the governing Conservatives of Canada have trouble practising what they preach. The new cabinet Stephen Harper, the prime minister, revealed on July 15th has 39 ministers, two more than the one it replaced. And it will reach a record 40 members when the role of government leader in the Senate, which was inexplicably left vacant, is eventually filled.

The mid-summer shuffle was billed in advance as an opportunity for a government mid-way through its four-year mandate to hit the reset button. During the session of parliament that ended June 19th the Conservatives struggled with a worsening scandal that began with senators fiddling their expense accounts but ended up entangling Mr Harper’s former chief of staff, now under police investigation for helping a senator pay off his debts. Trailing the third-party Liberals in the polls and seemingly bereft of any shiny new policies to distract attention, the Conservatives badly needed to signal a new direction.

This week’s shuffle was only partly successful on that score. The prime minister did invite four new women to the cabinet table, bringing to 12 the total in his ministry. That matches the number appointed by Paul Martin, a former Liberal prime minister, in his 2003 cabinet of the same size. The fresh-faced, relatively young, female ministers underlined Mr Harper’s message of generational change, as did the elevation of several young, male backbenchers.

But the theme of renewal stopped dead at central cabinet posts that carry real power. Jim Flaherty remains finance minister, a job he has occupied since the Conservatives first came to power in 2006. Tony Clement is still president of the Treasury Board, a department that describes itself as “responsible for accountability and ethics, financial, personnel and administrative management, comptrollership, approving regulations and most Orders-in-Council”. John Baird stayed put as minister of foreign affairs, with increased power now that Canada’s overseas aid agency has been folded into his department. So too did Edward Fast, the trade minister, and Joe Oliver, minister of natural resources. And although Mr Harper talked of a new agenda prior to the shuffle, he has left the details of that for a speech in September.

The prime minister’s office made an effort to seem hip (emphasis ours) by announcing each new minister with a tweet, before giving a list of the changes to the traditional media. This innovative (at least for Canada) use of twitter extended to sending out short videos of the happy new ministers talking about their roles. It was only slightly marred by two tweets that gave the wrong handles (twitter names), one of which was quickly turned into a satirical account that started criticising the government.

Stephen Fletcher, one of three ministers dropped in the shuffle (another five took themselves out of the running earlier), might have been tempted to do the same. He used humour instead. “I am Conservative. I am a traditionalist,” he tweeted. “I wish I left Cabinet in the traditional way—with a sex scandal!”


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