Friday, December 12, 2003

DAY 1

The topic of discussion today is obviously Prime Minister Paul Martin and his new cabinet.

I spent much of the day following the coverage, on line, in the papers and on CBC Newsworld. What strikes me is that there is actaully very little to say at this point. I suppose it really shouldn't be so surprising because really all there is to talk about is who is in the cabinet and who is out. Once you've counted up how many Chretien ministers are left (15), how many women there are (11) and how they all divide regionally there is not too much left to work with. The real discussion will start when we see how these ministers and this new government perform, what actions they take, what ideas they have. Everything right now is just so much speculation, which is fine, and fun, for political junkies like me (and you, I suspect) but its mostly meaningless.

Some observations in passing from today:

Hearing the phrase, "Prime Minister Martin" sounded odd and remebering that when MPs and journalists refer to "the Prime Minister" they now mean Mr. Martin is taking some getting used to but I'm adapting.

The pundits seem divided on whether this will be the cabinet for the next few years or whether there will be a big shuffle after the next election. My thinking is that the only reason to make big changes would be if star candidates could be recruited and it seems like Martin tried to get big names from the provinces and the private sector before today and they turned him down. Unless these star individuals have a change of heart in the next four months I think we're looking at our prinicpal cabinet players for at least a couple of years.

Cabinet posts I noticed:

Irwin Cotler (Justice and Attorney General). Former McGill Law professor and internationally renowned human rights lawyer is an excellent addition and a great choice for these portfolios. First on my to-do list is to e-mail him asking for an inquiry into the Arar deportation.

Lucienne Robillard (Industry). One of the surviving Chretien ministers and a woman in the high profile normally male dominated portfolio. I worked on her campaign in Montreal in 2000, she has good connections and relevant experience, intelligent and a good organizer. I think she's a good choice.

David Pratt (National Defence). All I really know about him is that he supported sending Canadian troops to the the war in Iraq. It may be just a symbolic move for the American's but still it worries me about the direction this government will take towards the U.S.

Bill Graham (Foriegn Affairs, again). He lobbied hard to keep his job and he was successful. Some think he's been doing a good job in this portfolio, I disagree. However, this may be more a result of of the way Chretien approached foriegn policy but I'm not so sure becasue under Lloyd Axworthy we at least had a foriegn policy. Hopefully Martin can give Graham some much needed direction.

Finally, once again Paul Wells has the best commentary of the day on the new government. I suppose that's why he's getting paid to blog and I'm here.

Posted by Matthew @ 7:19 PM