Greg Thompson, MP for New Brunswick Southwest, has resigned as minister of Veterans Affairs and will not run in the next federal election. His departure is timely as it will give his successor in Veterans Affairs plenty of time to get up to speed on the portfolio before a new session begins.
The well-liked MP has represented his constituency since 1988, and is one of only two ministers to hold the same cabinet portfolio for the entire four years of the Stephen Harper Conservative government—Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is the other.
I believe Thompson was the only Progressive Conservative MP from Atlantic Canada to support PM Harper’s bid for leadership of the Conservative Party when it merged with the old Progressive Conservative Party.
Thompson’s resignation will, of course, lead to a cabinet shuffle of sorts and will give the PM an opportunity to “tweak” the composition of the federal cabinet. However, it doesn’t seem to offer any excuse to shuffle beleaguered Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, to some other post.
I am reminded that, but for Peter MacKay, the unite-the-right Conservative coalition may have taken much longer and Stephen Harper’s government probably would not be in office today. MacKay is not one of my favourites and, in my view, he didn’t handle the Afghan detainee file very deftly. Removing him from his current position, however, could lead to a split in the party. In such an eventuality, and with Greg Thompson’s resignation, I doubt the Conservatives would have a safe seat left in Atlantic Canada.
Greg Thompson will, I’m sure, be missed on both sides of the House.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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