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