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Who's in the Harper cabinet?  

[PoliticsWatch updated 9:45 a.m January 31, 2006]

Many members of the Conservative shadow cabinet could find themselves out of the shadows in a few weeks. 

With an election victory under his belt, Prime Minister designate Stephen Harper now has to get down to work. 

First order of business will be creating a cabinet, something known as  appointing and disappointing.

In the final days of the campaign, Harper was still saying he had not even considered who to put in his cabinet. . 

Harper will face a lot of tough choices. 

The problem boils down to Alberta. 

Not only does Harper have to reward his loyal and long-time supporters from Alberta, most of his young talent and experienced critics are from the province. 

Harper must either give a disproportional number of cabinet posts to MPs from Alberta and potentially alienate old school former Progressive Conservatives from other parts of the country. 

Or Harper can play the regional balance game and leave out rising stars such as Rona Ambrose and Rahim Jaffer from cabinet. 

The money would be on Harper going with the first option.

Going heavy on Alberta plays to his base and it would be hard to argue leaving so many experienced MPs and rising young players out of cabinet. 

Trying to find enough representation from central Canada and having to tell so many long-time supporters from the West that they didn't make the cut will make Harper's task unenviable. 

So if he wins the election, Harper should take a word of advice from, Paul Martin.

"Anybody who thinks making a cabinet is something easy is kidding themselves," said Martin after unveiling his first cabinet in December 2003. 

Politicswatch.com presents its predictions for the make up of a Harper cabinet. 

Hugh Segal -- Government Leader in the Senate

Red Tory, former Mulroney aide and Harper campaign advisor Hugh Segal was recently appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin. He is PoliticsWatch's pick to lead the Conservatives in the Senate if Harper wins. 

Peter MacKay -- Justice Minister

MacKay is currently the party's deputy leader, having been the former leader of the now defunct Progressive Conservative Party. First elected in 1997, MacKay is a former Crown prosecutor who will have a top cabinet post in a Harper government. MacKay would be a good pick for Justice Minister, which has been the main portfolio for party leaders in waiting in the past, including Pierre Trudeau and Kim Campbell. 

Jay Hill -- Government House Leader

Hill is a veteran Reformer and was given the ultimate vote of confidence by Harper when he selected him as John Reynolds' replacement as Opposition House Leader. Hill is an easy pick for Government House Leader. 

Rob Nicholson -- Transport Minister

Can you name the only current opposition MP to ever be in cabinet? If you guessed Rob Nicholson then you know way too much about politics. Nonetheless, Nicholson, who served very briefly as a cabinet minister in Kim Campbell's summer of '93 government, is PoliticsWatch's pick for Transport Minister. 

Updated January 24: Nicholson's names are now among those being floated around Ottawa for finance minister.

Monte Solberg -- Finance Minister

Solberg has spent over a decade on the opposition benches in high-profile critic positions. Incredibly witty and a media favourite, the current finance critic could end up as Finance minister -- a good position to launch a long and covert leadership bid. He will also be Canada's first finance minister with a blog.

Updated January 25: CanWest News reports Solberg may not end up with finance, but his name is being mentioned for foreign affairs.

Diane Ablonczy -- Deputy PM

After a decade in the House of Commons, Ablonczy is a shoo-in for cabinet if the Conservatives come to power. This former Alliance leadership candidate has held a number of critics positions, including health and citizenship and immigration. She is also PoliticsWatch's pick for Deputy PM.

Guy Lauzon -- Intergovernmental Affairs Minister

A low-profile rookie MP from Ontario and former public servant Lauzon is a francophone and from Ontario. He has handled his portfolio as Treasury Board and Official Languages critic well and is a possible intergovernmental affairs minister.

Bob Mills -- Environment

Mills has been an MP since 1993 and the Conservatives' environment critic since 2001 and knows his file well. Mills has a Science BA and was once a biology teacher. PoliticsWatch predicts Harper will opt for experience and choose yet another veteran Alberta MP for cabinet. 

Stockwell Day -- Foreign Affairs

While not a great prime ministerial candidate, Day has proven over the past two years that he is a more than able foreign affairs critic. Day still has his supporters in the party and that, coupled with his performance as foreign affairs critic, should land him the same cabinet post, no matter what the Toronto Star says. Day also has provincial cabinet experience having served in Ralph Klein's cabinet. 

Jim Prentice -- Indian Affairs

One of the few Alberta MPs from the PC-wing of the party, Prentice is the current Conservative Indian Affairs critic. According to Prentice's biography, he "served as a Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission of Canada for 10 years and is recognized as an expert in land claims negotiations." He will likely be Harper's pick for Indian Affairs minister. 

Conservative MP Rona Ambrose is a likely contender for a job in the Harper cabinet. 

Rona Ambrose -- International Trade

Yet another Alberta MP, but Harper would be foolish not to include Ambrose in his cabinet. A rising star in the Conservative Party, rookie MP Ambrose will be given a high-profile cabinet job, possibly International Trade. Ambrose can save translation money on foreign junkets as she speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and intermediate French.

Diane Finley -- Agriculture

Finley is the party's agriculture critic and was one of four Tory MPs to seek intervenor status in a Montana court case hearing arguments for and against the reopening of the U.S. border to Canadian cattle. She is the front-runner to be the party's Agriculture Minister. 

Gordon O'Connor-- Defence

A former army Brigadier General and a former military lobbyist, O'Connor reportedly desires and expects to be Canada's next Defence Minister. PoliticsWatch thinks this is likely and could be a good fit. 

Loyola Hearn -- Fisheries

Hearn is considered a Red Tory and supported Belinda Stronach in the Conservative leadership race. Elected in a by-election in 2000, Hearn has previous government experience, as he served as Newfoundland's education minister for four years in the 1980s. Hearn is a possible Fisheries minister. 

Conservative MP James Rajotte a possible Industry Minister. 

James Rajotte -- Industry Minister

A thirty something MP, Rajotte is considered one of the rising stars in the Conservative Party and is a Harper loyalist. Even though there are more experienced MPs on the Conservative benches, he's probable cabinet material and a possible Industry Minister.

John Duncan -- Natural Resources

Duncan should be among the four Tories from B.C. to make it in cabinet. Duncan has served as the party's natural resources critic and could step into that role in cabinet. He has some work experience as his bio says he worked as a divisional forester and contract supervisor for the forest industry.

Updated January 24: Duncan was defeated on election night.

Bev Oda -- Heritage

Another rookie MP, Oda is the first Japanese Canadian elected to Parliament. She has 25 years broadcasting experience including stints at TVO, CTV and sitting as a CRTC commissioner.  Oda will likely become Heritage minister. 

Stephen Fletcher -- Health

The first permanently disabled Canadian elected to Parliament, PoliticsWatch predicts Fletcher will also move from health critic to health minister if the Tories win. 

Senator Pierre Claude Nolin

Even if the Conservatives win seats in Quebec, expect Senator Pierre Claude Nolin to play a role in cabinet. Nolin was appointed to the Senate in 1993 by Brian Mulroney. A possible portfolio would be economic development minister for Quebec. 

Updated January 24: The victory of 10 Tories in Quebec makes it unlikely that Harper will have to resort to appointing a senator from Quebec to cabinet.

Rahim Jaffer -- Infrastructure and Cities

Jaffer is young, handsome, bilingual, a visible minority, pretty good in question period and has been an MP for nine years. He is the ideal person to have in cabinet if the Conservatives want to broaden their appeal. Like Rajotte, Jaffer could land in cabinet ahead of several more seasoned former Reformers. PoliticsWatch picks Jaffer for the Infrastructure and Cities portfolio. 

Possible cabinet ministers who have to get elected first

Conservative candidate Garth Turner was a prominent minister in Kim Campbell's government. 

Garth Turner -- Treasury Board

Turner also served briefly in as Revenue Minister in Kim Campbell's government. He is currently running in Halton Ontario, one of the ridings the Tories need to win if they are to win government. Turner is PoliticsWatch's pick for Treasury Board President. 

Updated January 24: Turner won in Halton on election night.

Jim Flaherty -- Public Security

This former Ontario cabinet minister in the Harris and Eves governments will likely be given a post if he wins in Whitby. PoliticsWatch projects Flaherty to land either Public Security or Solicitor General. 

Updated January 31: The Globe and Mail reports Conservatives say Flaherty the "leading contender" for finance. 

Regional Round Up

Here are other possible Harper cabinet picks by region. 

Atlantic Canada

In addition to MacKay and Hearn, Tory MP Greg Thompson will likely be given a cabinet slot for New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, Harper can pick and choose another Tory MP, possibily  Bill Casey. The Conservatives are not likely to pick up a seat in Prince Edward Island unless a large Tory blue wave sweeps the nation in the coming week.

Quebec

The Tories have no seats in Quebec as it stands now. But the party could possibly squeak by in three ridings and two of those MPs - Lawrence Cannon and Josee Verner -- would be guaranteed spots in a Harper cabinet. Cannon has been Harper's Quebec advisor and Verner was included in his shadow cabinet, even though she did not win a seat in the 2004 election.

Updated January 24: Both Cannon and Verner were among the 10 Quebec Tories to win on election night. Harper has already said publicly he wants Cannon in cabinet.

Ontario

In addition to the seven MPs and one senator listed above from Ontario, PoliticsWatch thinks Harper could have five more MPs from Ontario in his cabinet. They include veteran MP and Harper friend Scott Reid, rookie MPs Helena Guergis, Michael Chong and Peter Van Loan. Former Ontario cabinet minister John Baird is also likely to make a Harper cabinet if he wins, as is expected, in Ottawa West Nepean. 

Updated January 24: Baird won his riding on election night. 

Western Canada

Harper will fill out his cabinet in Manitoba with Vic Toews. In Saskatchewan MP Carol Skelton will be the lone representative in cabinet. Jason Kenney would bring to nine the number of ministers from Alberta. And look for young James Moore to land a junior cabinet spot and be the cabinet's representative for Vancouver. 

Based on this model, Harper's cabinet would break down this way. A total of 35 cabinet ministers, including seven women. Thirteen ministers from Ontario, nine from Alberta, four from B.C., three (if possible) from Quebec, two each from Manitoba and Nova Scotia, and one each from Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. 

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