It’s another busy start to the week in Ottawa as the fallout of John Baird’s sudden resignation as Foreign Affairs Minister continues to affect business as usual on Parliament Hill. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, forced to fill such an important vacancy in his cabinet, shuffled some of his key advisers into different positions. But that all important news was drowned out by party politics as a controversial member of Harper’s caucus crossed the floor to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
Filling Baird’s vacancy at Foreign Affairs is Rob Nicholson. Nicholson, until yesterday, was the Minister for National Defence, a post that will now be taken up by Jason Kenney, who will be doing double duty as Minister for Multiculturalism. Pierre Poilievre, meanwhile, will take over for Kenney as Minister of Employment and Social Development, in addition to keeping his duties as Minister for Democratic Reform.
“Our Government is delivering real results for Canadians by growing the economy, making communities safer, and standing up for Canadian values at home and abroad,” said Harper in a brief statement. “The changes to the Ministry announced today will help ensure that key portfolios continue to have the strong leadership required to advance Canadian priorities.”
The priorities for Harper in this maneuver seems clear, to put people he can trust in key positions. Kenney’s been a stalwart of the Harper government since its beginning, but has been under fire lately due to the issues surrounding the temporary foreign worker program. Poilievre had his own issues as the primary pitchman of the Fair Elections Act, which put him squarely in the crosshairs of the Opposition. When it comes to the ministers in their new positions it seems like some things never change.
“[Nicholson has] never, ever wavered in any way, shape or form from strict Conservative Party dogma, and in a time like this, in a world we live in today, it is a bit surprising that we have someone who can’t reach out more than he can,” NDP leader Thomas Mulcair told the media today.
“Even his inability to say another word in Canada’s second official language, you’d expect the person in charge of your diplomacy could speak a little bit of the language of diplomacy, which happens to be Canada’s other official language, but he literally can’t say a word, nor could his parliamentary secretary.
“You’re shutting off a whole bunch of Canadians, and you’re also showing a closed-mindedness to the rest of the world.”
But the changing of the guard in various portfolios was somewhat overshadowed by another surprise announcement. Eve Adams, the beleaguered MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, announced her intention to leave the Conservative Party of Canada and join the Liberals in a joint announcement with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
“I can no longer support mean-spirited leadership that divides people instead of bringing them together,” she said in her statement to the media. “We need a kind, generous and strong leadership that champions shared vision for how to make Canada work for everyone.”
The move came as a surprise to everyone considering it was just last year that Adams was part of a contentious nomination fight in the new riding of Oakville-Burlington North. Adams behaviour forced both her and her main rival, Natalia Lishchynain, to withdraw their candidacies. Compounding the situation was that Adams’ fiance Dimitri Soudas was the Executive Director of Conservative Party at the time. Adams was a good and loyal soldier for the party, but don’t let that fool you, Trudeau is still glad to have her.
“She wanted to be her community’s voice in Ottawa, not the prime minister’s voice in her community,” he said. “She has shown passion and commitment to her constituents, both as a city councillor and as an MP, and in her work as a parliamentary secretary.”
It won’t be all a red carpet for Adams though, as she will have to make it through her own Liberal nomination fight in a riding to be named later. Milton, the riding currently represented by Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt, has been named as a potential site for her nomination.
One thing’s for sure, Adams certainly won’t be running for the Conservatives anytime soon.
“I informed her in writing on Jan. 29 that she would not be permitted to run for our party in the next election due to the misconduct from the Oakville North-Burlington nomination race,” said Conservative Party president John Walsh in a statement.
“I communicated clearly that our party takes our nomination rules and procedures seriously, and we made a commitment to run fair and open nominations, and any misconduct from candidates, including caucus members, would not be tolerated.”