Harper Cabinet Recalibration - Will it make a difference?
After weeks of speculation the federal cabinet shuffle has finally occurred. There are a couple of issues related to the shuffle which I think are interesting. First, Rona Ambrose is being shuffled not because of any major mistake or indiscretion but basically because the Prime Minister was not satisfied with the progress being made on the environment file.
In effect, PM Harper has sent yet another clear signal to all cabinet ministers that PMO intervention will be in offing if one does not meet expectations.
This is the new standard for cabinet promotion or demotion. Baird has been working the accountability issue hard as Treasury Board President…and will now be expected to put his shoulder to the wheel on the environment.
The second important issue is the selection of a new Environment Minister from Ontario. We know from our polling that Quebecers and the Liberal Provincial Government support the environment and are not supportive of the Harper government direction on the environment. By appointing Baird to the ministry Harper has sent another message - that he wants this issue managed politically. In effect the Conservatives are boxed in - if they do an overhaul of their environmental plan it implies weakness - if they defend the plan it implies stubborness. In effect, the best strategy might be to stay quiet on the environment and get back to what voters perceive as the core Conservative strengths - ethics, fiscal management, tax relief.
For new Liberal Party Leader Stephane Dion (a former Environment Minister)…this Conservative transition on who takes point on the Environment and the voter volatility in Quebec could be an opening.
What do you think? Will the Harper cabinet recalibration make any difference on the political landscape…and if so…how?
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