Given Stephen Harper's desperate need to change the channel after a spring fraught with scandals – election fraud, financial fraud, senate fraud, PMO fraud – we all knew a Cabinet shuffle was coming. I took cerebral bets on the outcome and won most of them with a few glaring exceptions. Given the rules of political payback, the Prime Sinister had no choice but to keep the Mike Harrisites – Flaherty, Baird, and Clement – in the inner circle. Peter MacKay, who will eternally collect his thirty pieces of silver for turning over the Conservative name to the Reform Alliance posse, did a parallel career shift into Justice after being unable to defend his F-35 fiasco.
Another easy prediction – no senators allowed. After all, if you are going to try to toss the whole sober second chamber out, why bother. And besides, the stench of the PMO/Senate scandals did not fit with the happy tweeting about the fresh and innnocent new cabinet.
And no surprise for those who watch Power and Politics, that the young and photogenerational talking heads like Michelle Rempell and Chris Alexander will be now smiling for the camera from their new cabinet positions. Both had shown promise in the past but lately have demonstrated an inability to think – there is not much to talk about once you get past the glare of the Crest strip grin.
Now if a truly intelligent and independent thinker like Michael Chong, MP from Wellington-Halton Hills, had been appointed to the "new" Cabinet, it would have signalled genuine winds of change. Chong, however had previously supported Peter MacKay in the Conservative leadership race, went against the government's denier mentality in his support of the Kyoto Accord, and voted nay to Quebec as "a nation within Canada", all fatal flaws in the eyes of the PM.
Instead – in the first of my failed predictions – the hapless and synaptically challenged Pierre Poilievre, he of the now infamous blurt: "The root cause of terrorism is terrorists," makes it in as the Minister of State for Democratic Reform. Really? The thought of Harper's hyper-partisan yap dog trying to reform democracy is frightening indeed. This new position is a thinly disguised attempt to put Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy et al in a deep dark closet somewhere. Poilievre would best be assigned to the media room designing attack ads against anyone and anything slightly to the left of the extreme far right.
My second failure was in predicting that Peter Van Loan would be replaced. Astonishingly, he remains as Government House Leader, a continuing example of the bully-boy, bumbling brute kind of MP that Canadians have come to loathe. Sorry, Mr. Harper, nice try with the "generational change" shuffle, but you are obviously staying with the same predictable hand. And hard-working, tax-paying Canadians know your deck is marked.
Skid Crease, Caledon