Craig's Take: Jason Kenney's new gig
Craig Oliver, CTV Chief Political Correspondent
Published Sunday, May 22, 2011 2:38PM EDT
Jason Kenney does not think he should be called Deputy Prime Minister, even though the additional role given to him in the new cabinet does in a way put him in that position.
Kenney is keeping his day job as Minister of Immigration, but his added responsibility from the Prime Minister is to act as Chair of the Conservative Government operations committee. It acts within the government almost like an executive committee of cabinet and every major government initiative has to be cleared with the committee before it can happen. Kenney told Question Period this Sunday the new job will keep him Ottawa-bound more than he was in the past.
As for his role as Immigration Minister, Kenney insists he is pressing ahead with changes in that will make life a lot tougher for human smugglers and, on a broader basis, will also tighten the rules to keep illegal refugee claimants from exploiting Canada's asylum system.
Many are speculating about the future character of the majority Harper government. Kenney contends it will be a mainstream government focused on the economy and not, he seemed to indicate, on Conservative social causes. The Conservatives clearly are aware that many Canadians in the past parliament viewed the government as too driven by ideology, and that they did not elect them to carry out social experimentation.
Today's program saw a feisty debate between veteran government leader in the Senate Marjory LeBreton and NDP political battler Pat Martin over the immensely unpopular appointment of three Conservative Senators last week, rescued from joblessness after election defeats.
Backed into a corner over the Prime Minister's many promises never to appoint unelected Senators, LeBreton said the government is as determined as ever to achieve Senate reform.
As a starter, she insists they will re-introduce a law limiting senate terms to eight years, which had been blocked during the minority period by the Liberals. At the moment any Senator can stay in office without fear of losing the post until age 75.
As far as the NDP is concerned, the Conservatives are using the cover of so-called reform to use the Senate as a haven for patronage appointments more blatantly than even the Liberals did.
If the public is truly angry over the Senate gravy train for Tories they will have four years to get over it. That, critics might observe, is one of the advantages given by Canadians who elect majority governments.