Thursday, January 18, 2007

Long Shadow

Given that a potential Dion Government Cabinet would look vastly different from the shadow Cabinet he announced today, I'm not sure how much we can actually read into it. But it's one of those things you sort of have to comment on so here are a few random thoughts:

-A BCer in Toronto has the demographic breakdowns. At first glance, it looks to me like there are lots of females, and lots of females in prominent positions.

-It will be interesting to see how the committees work and how much power they have. The committee heads don't have shadow Cabinet roles, so how do you divide roles up between Bryan Wilfert who chairs the foreign affairs committee and Ujjal Dosanj who is the foreign affairs critic (and how does Raymond Chan figure into all of this as critic for "foreign affairs (Asia-Pacific)"?).

-With big names Ken Dryden and John Godfrey chairing two of the committees, it was surprising to see Wilfert and John MacKay get the other two.

-I'll be very curious to see how David McGuinty handles the environment file. He's an able performer in the house which is a neccesity for the portfolio, given the media scrutiny around that file these days.

-McCallum in Finance is a sound decision given his background and experience. Given the importance of Flaherty's next budget, this is probably the most important critic portfolio.

-Irwin Cotler has been given "Human Rights". I have no idea what exactly he's responsible for since most human rights would seem to be covered by other critics.

-Brison to industry is the surest sign that there's no vindictiveness left from the leadership race. After going Rae, then Ignatieff, Dion had more reason to punish Brison than anyone else but he's instead rewarded him with a very juicy portfolio. Similarly, Dennis Coderre, who didn't sound very excited about working with Dion on December 2nd, winds up in Defence.

-In a great move, Joe Volpe got transport. After watching his leadership campaign, no one has more experience at dealing with train wrecks than Joe.

In other news, the rumour is that Martha Hall Findlay's bus driver will be getting the Ontario Desk in the PMO. No, this is not a clever satirical jab, it's an actual rumour I heard from a fairly credible source.


  • I really wish Shawn Murphy would get a spot in Shadow Cabinet; Wayne Easter has had his turn in Cabinet already, and Shawn's the only Island MP who's never had a portfolio.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 8:46 p.m.  

  • 33% had nothing to do with committee chairs.

    By Blogger Mitchell Davidson, at 9:43 p.m.  

  • Why the hell is John McKay heading up anything? The party should be doing its utmost to push the likes of Steckle, MacKay and Wappel out the door.

    By Blogger Koby, at 10:16 p.m.  

  • 33% had nothing to do with committee chairs.

    Oh, bullshit. True in a technical sense, perhaps, but if you're trying to tell me Dion is promising to run 1/3 female candidates just to wind up with none in prominent positions, then the whole promise is pretty meaningless. Women don't want 1/3 of not calling any shots.

    Now, I understand that Dion may not have the right women right now (Marlene Jennings springs to mind), and I'm happy to cut him slack on that, before the 1/3 election happens. But a "33% had nothing to do with committee chairs" is just side-stepping the truth of the matter. Either his caucus is short of capable women (which I frankly doubt) or Dion isn't serious about involving more women in politics.

    That said, 18 out of 38 is a pretty respectable number, to my mind.

    I don't know David McGuinty that well, I'm afraid - sure will be interesting to see how strongly he can fare in the role. Hope he will be good!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:44 p.m.  

  • Women in powerful roles eh? Which committee is chaired by a woman again?

    Foreign Affairs and Defence... Dosanjh and Coderre.... are you KIDDING ME? Brison and Goodale could have handled these positions hands down BETTER than these two morons.

    This shadow cabinet is brutal. It's unfocused and says absolutely nothing about where Dion wants to take his party or this country.

    Where's Belinda Stronach in all this anyway? Seems to me she got the shaft with "Competitiveness and the New Economy".... whatever that means. Cotler, Goodale, Brison, Stronach, and Dhala would be my absolute front bench if I had been Dion.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 10:54 p.m.  

  • Am I crazy or is no one covering health care?

    Shouldn't this be a huge priority given how the Tories try to avoid ever talking about it?

    What am I missing.

    By Blogger Shawn, at 12:34 a.m.  

  • Koby - John McKay is a strong fiscal conservative so I think Dion wanted the chairs for economic prosperity to be on the right of the party economically while those for social justice to be on the left. He has argued the two go together so essentially taking the best of both would be the way to achieve this.

    Finally, I would only push Wappel out the door who seems to only care about gay marriage and abortion. In the case of McKay at least his economic views are fine, while Steckle is socially conservative because he comes from a socially conservative riding. When you consider the Conservatives handidly won every neighbouring riding to his, it is probably fair to say the riding would have gone Conservative if we had a real Liberal running under our banner. I believe Paul Steckle was the only Liberal MP from a rural riding in Southern Ontario. And besides he supported Dion.

    IslandLiberal - I too think Shawn Murphy should have been given a position. Wayne Easter was given one due to his expertise in agriculture, although I would have choosen Ralph Goodale since if the Liberals want to make the Canadian Wheat Board a big issue, there are best to get someone from one of the provinces that fall under its jurisdictions that outside of it.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 1:24 a.m.  

  • There are plenty of Liberal MPs with good economic credentials. Let one of them head up the committee. Never mind the fact that McKay’s views on SSM are morally, intellectually and legally bankrupt, McKay’s social conservatism is out of step with the party, is out of step with urban Canada and completely out of step with the views of the Liberal rank and file. If that is not enough, SSM was the one issue that actually worked for the Liberals last election and an issue many Liberals came to view as defining the party. Since Trudeau and Pearson, this is a party that at is most successful is pushing the social boundaries. People who celebrate prejudice should not have a role to play in shaping the future of the Liberal party. Let Martin’s mafia team actually dispose someone worth disposing. Replace McKay and Wappel with true liberals; the Liberals will still win those seats. As for Steckle, an MP that votes the wrong way is simply not a MP worth having. Toe the line Steckle, or get out.

    Recipe for renewal: get younger and clear out the dead wood, i.e., the social conservatives.

    In fact I propose a trade: the following Liberals for the following Conservatives.

    Jim Karygiannis, Derek Lee, Thomas Wappell, Raymond Bonin, Dan McTeague, Roy Cullen, John McKay, Gurbax Singh Malhi, Paul Steckle, Alan Tonks, and Francis Scarpaleggia and Gerry Byrne

    James Moore, Peter McKay, Jim Prentice, Lawrence Cannon, David Emerson, Bill Casey, Lee Richardson, John Baird, Josee Verner, Christian Paradis, Michael Chong, Gerard Keddy and Fabian Manning

    By Blogger Koby, at 3:12 a.m.  

  • There ARE other issues aside from marriage. Taking Emerson back is absurd, even as a joke.

    In Canadian politics, marriage is a dead issue. While we might wish otherwise - I certainly do - the fact that someone voted against C38 will not count against them as long as they can state they don't see re-opening the issue - although that's a question no one but the extreme right is even going to ask.

    We no longer hear politicians
    say they support (or oppose) equality on the basis of race. Goodness knows racism still exists, but from a political point of view they've passed laws
    against it so problem solved. Same think with gay equality issues. We'll see gays and lesbians in Liberal advertising, just like other minorities, but the issue is dead.

    Sure the bigots in "REAL" Women, DefendMarriage, CampaignLife and all the other nutbar groups are going to try to keep gay issues front and centre, but no one is going to be listening, least of all the Conservatives.

    Yes, it is unfortunate that bigoted scum like John McKay will not meet the fate they deserve. But there's nothing to be done about it.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 11:12 a.m.  

  • Dan:

    Pure speculation on my part, but maybe Cotler has been given the "human rights" portfolio in order thet he might counter the Conservatives' attacks on human rights (ie. cuts to social programs, judicial reforms, criminal justice reforms...)

    Just a thought...

    By Blogger Devin Maxwell, at 11:18 a.m.  

  • As for Steckle, an MP that votes the wrong way is simply not a MP worth having. Toe the line Steckle, or get out.

    Absolutely the wrong tack to take; in the middle of a cycle of minority governments, with a distance of twenty-so seats between us. We should tailor our candidates to fit the terrain, and if a socially conservative Liberal will win us a seat that would otherwise be Tory (and it would be; the seat has existed since 1953, and Steckle's the only Liberal to ever hold it), then good strategy. The Democrats won Congress by running conservative Democrats where necessary, and having Steckle's vote on issues other than SSM is better than not having his vote at all. At this point, anyway, I think we've pretty much won the day on the subject, so we should move on.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 12:42 p.m.  

  • The SSM has been settled. That is not may concern. SSM was a litmus test. Moving forward, my concern is rather this. So long as there are a substantial number of social conservatives in and around Toronto, the party is not going to be moving forward on a social policy front. The Liberals would likely win these seats no matter who ran for them. It is time these fossilized relics of the Liberal’s 1993 landslide be pushed out.

    By Blogger Koby, at 1:40 p.m.  

  • I wouldn't be sad to see them gone, but pushing them out would run contrary to trying to unite the party. And I was specifically addressing the issue of Steckle, who holds a riding that any other type of Liberal would lose.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 1:52 p.m.  

  • Steckle's not as bad, since at least his riding is quite conservative. The Dems used taht strategy, and it won for them. As much as I'd like to see progressives everywhere, I know it's not fully feasible.

    The one we should be targetting are all the "liberals" from Scarborough, and also getting rid of our other crappier MPs from safe seats (guys like Teledgi and Scarpaleggia). Those are the type of MPs who we should be targetting for replacement.

    By Blogger UWHabs, at 2:36 p.m.  

  • uwhabs, I agree fully and completely, no question from me. Well thought/said.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 3:48 p.m.  

  • koby,
    nice post, but i dont want emerson back! perhaps we could trade for some dipper instead who doesnt have a moustache.

    By Blogger kenlister1, at 8:07 p.m.  

  • devin; It'll definitely be interesting to see where Cotler's critic portfolio takes him (focus on Canadian justice issues, first nations, foreign affairs...). If he hadn't already announced he was running again, I'd assume this was a spot for him to fill until he retired before the next election.

    UWHabs; Good point re: Steckle. I suppose if you need to run a guy like David Kilgore in Alberta to win, you do it, but it'd be nice to dump a few bad MPs in safe seats. The only problem is that those guys are usually great at winning nomination battles and, besides that, you need to protect incumbents in a minority situation.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:29 a.m.  

  • Calgary Grit
    What's this about Martha's bus driver going to the Tory PMO? Are you refering to Quitto or Elliot?
    I would say never for either but if you are referring to the OLO - Ontario Desk I heard Elliot picked that up - great choice by the way the guy is good and can stick handle with the best of them.
    On critics I see Ken Boshcoff picked up FEDNor great choice there. As a consummate practitioner of be in the constituency Ken is perfect for the role of keeping the Tories honest.

    By Blogger Browners Blog, at 5:17 p.m.  

  • IslandLiberal and UWhabs I generally concur. Although I despise social conservatives the problem we face is while the majority of ridings are socially liberal a large chunk are in Quebec where we are weak. This means if we wish to get a majority we need to win in some socially conservative ridings. The important thing is all socially conservative legislation would fail when you factor in the Bloc and NDP. In fact as IslandLiberal brings up, part of the reason the Democrats won in traditionally Republican areas is they ran more right leaning candidates.

    In the case of Toronto, I agree the so-cons need to go since we could win those seats with a real Liberal, but in the case of Paul Steckle, I am not so sure as this is generally a conservative riding.

    By Blogger Monkey Loves to Fight, at 1:56 p.m.  

  • The Health critic can report to us on the 10 new private health clinics that opened in Ontario in 2006 bringing the total in Canada to 250. Check them out at:

    Ontario, Que., and BC now lead the parade.

    By Blogger albertan, at 11:30 p.m.  

  • Wow, from what I am hearing I guess the big tent is folding. Why the angst for those in your party (at least a third and a great deal more than that for people who voted for you) who hold what you call socially conservative views? You wonder why you've lost the rural vote and are waning in the ethnic communities.
    BTW who isn't in the shadow cabinet? lol. Stephane is so worried about unity and being everybody's friend he just hired everyone! I have a feeling this would continue if he is every elected Prime Minister, God forbid the man actually make a tough decision.

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 1:07 a.m.  

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