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Harper's cabinet casualties?

[PoliticsWatch posted 5:45 p.m. April 5, 2007]

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn and Public Works Minister Michael Fortier are among two cabinet ministers who may not be around after the next election. 

The Tories are riding high in the polls and appear to be itching for an election this spring.  

But despite the rise in the polls nationally, some cabinet ministers may have problems in local races in their own ridings. 

PoliticsWatch looks at the four Tory cabinet ministers who could not return to Ottawa after the next election. 

Loyola Hearn 

In 1997, Jean Chretien lost two Atlantic Canada cabinet ministers -- David Dingwall and Doug Young -- after miscalculating the mood in Atlantic Canada before the election.  

Newfoundland's Hearn could enter the next election campaign running against not only his riding opponents but Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams. 

Minutes after the federal budget was unveiled Williams said that the Conservatives had "completely shafted us" by unveiling a new equalization program. 

The premiers have the option to stay in the old equalization system and keep 100 per cent of their resource revenues. Newfound and Nova Scotia negotiated to have their offshore resource revenues excluded in the recent Atlantic Accord. The provinces can also enter the new equalization system and have 50 per cent of their resource revenues included in their equalization calculations. 

"What I'm saying is to the people of this province, based on the fact that they've broken their promise and broken their commitment, (Newfoundlanders) should not vote Conservative in the next federal election," Williams said. 

This would include Hearn and rookie Tory MP Fabian Manning. The only other Tory seat in the province is held by MP Norman Doyle who recently announced he was not seeking re-election. 

Whether it's simple decisions that impact the north to complicated matters impacting the future of Newfoundland critics say Hearn hasn't delivered. 

Add the Williams factor and that could pose problems for the minister who won his seat by a 4,300 vote margin in the last election. 

Michael Fortier 

Unlike most cabinet ministers, the Public Works minister is not seeking re-election. That's because he was never elected to begin with. Fortier was a controversial appointment to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper created to provide the PM with representation in Montreal.  

Fortier will be running in the suburban Montreal riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges against Bloc MP Meili Faille.  

Faille is no stranger to facing a strong challenger. In the 2006 election she handily defeated star Liberal candidate Marc Garneau by more than 9,000 votes. The third-place Conservative candidate in that riding won just 19 per cent of the vote in the riding in the 2006 election.  

David Emerson 

As a cabinet minister, International Trade Minister David Emerson has been one of Harper's success stories, especially after he helped broker a breakthrough deal to end the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. 

Emerson admits he's not a politician, and that won't help him as he likely faces voters in his riding upset with his defection from the Liberals to the Tories just weeks after the last election.  

In the last election, the Conservative candidate in Vancouver Kingsway won just 19 per cent of the vote and finished 12,000 votes behind the Liberal Emerson. The riding is traditionally Liberal or NDP. There is much speculation in Ottawa that Emerson won't run again. 

Tony Clement

Although he is a prominent cabinet minister in the Harper government, Health Minister Tony Clement won the last election in his Parry Sound-Muskoka riding after a recount by just 28 votes. 

Landslide Tony will need all the help he can get. 

Clement recently expressed his pleasure with polling numbers that showed the Tories gaining strength in Ontario. 

"You're talking to a guy who won by 28 votes. I like those odds better," he told reporters. 

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