MacKay replaces O'Connor at defence;
[PoliticsWatch updated 6:00 p.m. August 14, 2007]
|Peter MacKay is in at Defence, while Gordon
O'Connor is out. Diane Ablonczy is the only new addition to
the Harper cabinet.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled the second major retooling of
his cabinet in less than eight months on Tuesday.
In total, eight cabinet ministers were moved, one was dropped
and one added.
The primary objective of the shuffle appeared to be to move Gordon
O'Connor out of National Defence and replace him with the
high-profile Peter MacKay.
This led to a domino effect on several other cabinet ministers.
Here are the changes.
Peter MacKay -- Defence Minister
Maxime Bernier -- Foreign Affairs
Jim Prentice -- Industry Minister
Chuck Strahl -- Indian Affairs Minister
Gerry Ritz -- Agriculture Minister
Gordon O'Connor -- Revenue Minister
Bev Oda -- International Cooperation
Josée Verner -- Heritage Minister
Diane Ablonczy -- Secretary of State Small Business and Tourism
Another smaller shuffle appears to be a swap between two ministers.
Embattled minister Bev Oda becomes International Cooperation
minister and is replaced at Heritage by Josée Verner.
Diane Ablonczy, a 14-year veteran of the Reform, Alliance and
Conservative caucuses, was named a junior minister for small
business and tourism. Carol Skelton, who is not seeking
re-election, was dropped from cabinet.
"(This) broadens the experience of some capable ministers,"
said Sandra Buckler, director of communications for the prime
minister. "It's about continuity and building the team for the longer term."
The swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall ends weeks of wild
speculation from the national media.
The inclusion of Ablonczy in cabinet was one of the few
Many earlier news reports said backbenchers would not be promoted.
Ablonczy's absence from Harper's first cabinet came as a shock to
most political observers given she was one of the strongest and most
high-profile performers during her years in opposition.
O'Connor's demotion came as no surprise as all three opposition
parties had been calling for his resignation for his handling of
Canada's mission in Afghanistan for months.
Even Conservative insiders expressed frustration with O'Connor's
tendency to misspeak or wander off message.
Speaking to reporters at 24 Sussex Drive, Harper thanked O'Connor
for his service as Defence minister and credited him with having the
foresight to see Arctic sovereignty as an emerging military
Harper said the retired brigadier general was moved because he had
spent most of his time in public service in a military role.
"I think it's time for him to have some other experiences,"
The government had spent most of the spring sitting of Parliament
being hammered on the handling of Afghan detainees and the changes
to the Atlantic Accord.
MacKay is considered one of most talented communicators in the
Conservative government. Conservatives are hoping his move to
defence will help the government sell the Afghan mission and improve
his party's standing in Atlantic Canada, which has plunged in recent
It may also backfire for MacKay. The job of defence minister is one
that few of its occupants exit better off politically. This is
especially true when Canadian Forces are involved in combat
The government still only has three MPs from a region with four
provinces. The other two Conservative cabinet ministers from
Atlantic Canada -- Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson and
Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn -- were not affected by the
The opposition parties all said the changes in cabinet were nothing
more than window dressing and the government needs to change its
policies on Afghanistan and the environment.
Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe said Harper merely
performed "cosmetic changes" to his
"I think we're facing the same situation we are facing when they changed
(Rona) Ambrose for (John) Baird at environment,"
he said, noting that this did not change the government's overall
policy thrust on the environment.
Here's the updated list of members of the Harper cabinet
The Right Honourable Stephen Joseph Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
The Honourable David Emerson
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics
The Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn
Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
The Honourable Gregory Francis Thompson
Minister of Veterans Affairs
The Honourable Marjory LeBreton
Leader of the Government in the Senate and Secretary of State (Seniors)
The Honourable Monte Solberg
Minister of Human Resources and Social Development
The Honourable Chuck Strahl
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians
The Honourable Gary Lunn
Minister of Natural Resources
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay
Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
The Honourable Loyola Hearn
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
The Honourable Stockwell Day
Minister of Public Safety
The Honourable Vic Toews
President of the Treasury Board
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification
The Honourable Diane Finley
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
The Honourable Gordon O'Connor
Minister of National Revenue
The Honourable Beverley J. Oda
Minister of International Cooperation
The Honourable Jim Prentice
Minister of Industry
The Honourable John Baird
Minister of the Environment
The Honourable Maxime Bernier
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
The Honourable Tony Clement
Minister of Health and the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
The Honourable James Michael Flaherty
Minister of Finance
The Honourable Josée Verner
Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages
The Honourable Michael Fortier
Minister of Public Works and Government Services
The Honourable Peter Van Loan
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
The Honourable Gerry Ritz
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
The Honourable Jay D. Hill
Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip
The Honourable Jason Kenney
Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)
The Honourable Helena Guergis
Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) (Sport)
The Honourable Christian Paradis
Secretary of State (Agriculture)
The Honourable Diane Ablonczy
Secretary of State (Small Business and Tourism)
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