It was announced yesterday that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has shuffled his shadow cabinet in advance of the return of Parliament. Not a lot of time for the new critics to get briefed up on their portfolios before the first Question Period of the new session, but that’s the name of the game sometimes.
There were really two big reasons for this shuffle to happen. The first is that none of the leadership candidates were given portfolios during the aborted race, so Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, now powerhouses in their own right, had no jobs – and you can bet that there was demand that they get something high profile. The second reason, of course, is that this is Ignatieff’s stamp on the party’s front bench in the Commons. This is no longer the party of Stéphane Dion.
So what did Rae and LeBlanc get? Foreign Affairs, and Justice respectively. Both are posts they held in the last Parliament, and Rae certainly has gravitas and statesmanlike qualities to do Foreign Affairs justice.
There are a few other interesting changes. For one, Denis Coderre is back in Defence, but he’s also been named the party’s Québec Lieutenant. This is significant because he has a large organisation in the province, which has been lacking for a few years now, when Dion botched the lieutenant appointment process, and wound up with a Senator who, while a total diva, had spent too many years alienating members of her own party to be effective as an organiser.
For gay favourites, Carolyn Bennett remains the Health critic, while Hedy Fry is no longer in the shadow cabinet, her portfolio of Heritage critic going to Pablo Rodriguez.
In terms of queer Liberals, Marion Silva lost his associate critic post when Ignatieff contracted the size of the shadow cabinet. Scott Brison also changed portfolios, from Finance critic to International Trade. Finance went to John McCallum, which is no big surprise given his credentials as a former chief economist of the Royal Bank, but McCallum’s former post of Chairman of the Leader’s Advisory Committee on Economic Strategy has gone to Brison. This means that Brison will remain a key spokesperson on economic issues for the party.
It’s certainly going to be interesting watching some of the new face-offs across the aisle. But first, it’s back to the pomp and circumstance of a Speech From the Throne on Monday. I can’t wait for the show to get started once again.