With two weeks left before the House comes back, the Liberals shuffled their shadow cabinet. It was inevitable, with Maurizio Bevilacqua’s departure, but the shuffle was quite extensive. As far as gay MPs go, Scott Brison moves to finance critic from international trade (after his success on the Colombia free-trade agreement), and Rob Oliphant moves from veterans' affairs to multiculturalism. There wasn’t a role posted for Mario Silva, but he may have some other committee or advisory role that wasn’t listed. Brison will be one to watch in this new role, as the common criticism is that the Liberals haven’t clearly articulated their economic position, and it will be his job to do so.
There are a few other notable changes, such as the fact that Roger Cuzner is no longer the party whip (and speculation is that this is because of that vote on abortion funding that the party lost after a major screw-up in votes). Ralph Goodale is named official deputy leader, while David McGuinty is the new House leader, squaring off against John Baird – and the two can really trade heckles. Other changes include Justin Trudeau getting immigration, Marlene Jennings getting justice (which should make for some great showdowns with Rob Nicholson), and Ujjal Dosanjh getting health (which apparently also includes public health, as they no longer have it listed as a separate portfolio).
Meanwhile, Liberals Frank Valeriote and Marcel Proulx (who is the new whip, incidentally), held a press conference on the long-gun registry yesterday morning, announcing their launching of a “Save Lives, Save the Gun Registry” online campaign, which aims to target NDP MPs who would otherwise vote against it. This shortly after NDP MP Glen Thibeault held a press conference to say that he would indeed be voting to retain the registry per the compromise Layton laid out. A little unfairly, however, the Liberals spelled out an “anti-cop coalition” between Layton and Harper on the gun registry issue (and in French, they also singled out Thomas Mulcair). The upcoming vote has been declared a “nail biter,” at 148 to 149 being the latest count, minus the seven undeclared NDP MPs.
The Conservatives are starting an awareness campaign about human trafficking. Bring it on, said the Liberals at the aforementioned press conference, pointing to a bill on the subject by Joyce Murray that was voted down by the Conservatives in June of 2009, but also pointing out that the problem really isn’t Canada, but that we should be engaging the international community on the issue – something which this awareness campaign doesn’t look to do.
The ethics commissioner has cleared another Conservative MP’s fundraising activities, albeit with a warning. She wants stricter rules put into place to prevent conflicts of interest at such fundraising events where public-office holders are put into potentially compromising situations.
At a climate conference in Mexico, Stéphane Dion has been hospitalized after a particularly bad bout of food poisoning.
And in an editorial for The Globe and Mail, Carleton professor Jonathan Malloy tries to figure out what makes the Harper government tick – and comes up with few answers because they don’t do anything consistently.