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Team Dion revealed 

[PoliticsWatch updated 2:30 p.m., January 18, 2007]

Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.

OTTAWA  — Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's much anticipated shadow cabinet was unveiled Thursday with key roles being filled evenly by Dion supporters and the supporters of other leadership candidates.  

> Complete list of Liberal caucus roles (PDF)


Among those MPs who are getting greater roles are Michael Ignatieff supporters David McGuinty and Denis Coderre, who become the environment and defence critics respectively.  

Dion supporters Marlene Jennings and Bonnie Brown will be critics of two major portfolios, justice and health. 

The new leader is also trying to maintain stability in the caucus by keeping Ralph Goodale as House leader and John McCallum as finance critic. 

But the biggest change is not so much one of personnel but of structure. 

Dion has created four caucus committees focusing on the key areas of the economy, "social justice," sustainability and foreign affairs. 

In addition, there is one planning and priorities committee that will be chaired by Dion and co-chaired by Ignatieff. Former prime minister Paul Martin and former interim leader Bill Graham will also sit on this committee as special advisors as will the chairs of the four caucus committees. 

"These four caucus committees will reflect my approach for the country," said Dion, who ran his campaign on the three pillars of economic development, environmental sustainability and social justice.

Among the caucus committee chairs are Dion supporter Bryon Wilfert, who will chair the foreign affairs committee, and leadership candidate Ken Dryden, who will chair the social justice committee. John McKay will chair the economic prosperity committee and John Godfrey, the former environment critic, chairs the environmental sustainability committee. 

However, the NDP quickly criticized the make up of Dion's planning and priorities committee, which it says is dominated by men.

"This is horrible," said NDP MP Paul Dewar. "This is a party that claims that wants to do something for women, to have more women represented, trying to get to 50 per cent and they have four out of 20 on priorities and planning."

Other leadership candidates were also given major critics roles. Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison will replace Jean Lapierre as the party's industry critic and Toronto MP Joe Volpe replaces McGuinty as transport critic.  

Despite reports that Dion would downsize his shadow cabinet, virtually all Liberal MPs will have some sort of role with 62 of 100 MPs being either a critic or a chair or co-chair of a caucus committee.  

Dion noted he had 70 MPs with more than a decade of service in Parliament and 29 who were once cabinet ministers. 

"We have an opportunity to work as equals with a lot of collegiality and then tap into the talent and skills of everyone, as long as we're not all over the map and we have a strong focus," he added. 

Some MPs who did not land critics jobs will continue to play a role as Dion has created nine caucus mentors who will serve as advisors at the provincial level for Liberal candidates in the upcoming election.  

Despite the announcement of what appears to be an election readiness committee, Dion repeated again on Thursday that he does not want an election any time soon. 

"My preference is not to have an election in the coming weeks or months, but we'll see," Dion said, noting that election timing was out of his hands. 

He said he is concerned that election fatigue for Canadians, who have voted in two federal elections in the last two and a half years, could have a negative impact on voter turnout. 

"I don't want an election. I don't think Canadians want an election."

Dion said, however, while he is willing to work constructively with the government in Parliament the Liberals cannot support policies and bills they think are detrimental for the country. 

Dion's whole team will get down to work together next week when the Liberals hold a national caucus in Quebec City on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

:  Related Links

> Dion's shadow cabinet questions

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