Cabinet shuffle gives new jobs to 10 Tories
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has moved 10 Conservative members into new portfolios as part of a cabinet shuffle that comes less than three weeks after his controversial decision to prorogue Parliament.
The new face of the government was introduced at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Tuesday morning.
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief, Robert Fife, reported the changes in cabinet prior to the formal announcement in Ottawa.
In a three-way shuffle, Peter Van Loan, Vic Toews and Stockwell Day have changed positions.
Van Loan moves to International Trade, Toews takes over the Public Safety portfolio and Day becomes president of the Treasury Board.
The fact that Day is being moved to the Treasury Board portfolio is a signal that he is highly trusted by the prime minister, said Fife.
"This is a very important role for Mr. Day, who has done very well in all the portfolios he's had," said Fife, noting that the veteran cabinet member will play a major role in determining how the government controls its spending in the months and years to come.
"In the future, the government is going to be looking at restraining spending, and Mr. Day is a former Alberta finance minister," Fife said.
Speaking to CTV News Channel's Power Play, Day said Canada cannot continue to go into debt.
"We want to see a roadmap to balanced budgets," he said. "The word 'No' might have to come up from time to time."
Day said taxes will not have to be raised to return to a balanced budget, despite Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page's recent report that said Ottawa will have to either raise taxes or significantly cut spending to avoid a structural deficit.
In a second cabinet tweak involving three senior ministers, Lisa Raitt moves over to the Labour portfolio, Rona Ambrose takes charge of the Public Works portfolio and Christian Paradis takes the lead on the Natural Resources file.
Fife said the prime minister's decision to move Raitt to the Labour portfolio, suggest he is moving her out of the limelight, following her controversial tenure as Natural Resources minister.
"It is a demotion, there is no doubt about that," Fife said.
Citing the government's handling of the ongoing isotope shortage, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Raitt's departure from the Natural Resources file was justified.
"I think it's Stephen Harper admitting, you know, nine months late, that his government mishandled the isotopes file," he told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon.
Overall, Ignatieff characterized the new cabinet shuffle as cosmetic in nature.
"They've shuffled the cards, but it's the same old deck," he said.
Other changes in Harper's cabinet include making Diane Ablonczy the Minister of State for Seniors.
New Brunswick MP Rob Moore becomes the Minister of State Small Business and Tourism, replacing Ablonczy in the file.
Jean-Pierre Blackburn takes over Veterans Affairs for long-time New Brunswick MP Greg Thompson, who recently resigned from cabinet.
Thompson said he will serve his constituents until the next election, but he does not intend to run again.
New Brunswick MP Keith Ashfield becomes the new Minister of National Revenue, replacing Blackburn.
Ashfield also becomes the Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, a portfolio he picks up from Defence Minister Peter MacKay who was not involved in Tuesday's shuffle.
A government official told The Canadian Press that the cabinet shuffle gives new ministers a chance to get up to speed on their new portfolios before Parliament resumes in March.