I was out of town earlier this week and did not have a chance to comment on the latest Liberal 28-member shadow cabinet drawn from interim leader Bob Rae’s much-reduced caucus—the May 2 election having cut the number of Liberal seats in the House of Commons from 77 to 34. So here goes.
“We’ve got a team of very experienced people [and] two very talented bright new MPs from Charlottetown and Kingston. We’ve got a caucus that’s extremely varied that includes experienced parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and, I might add, in the Senate.”
– Bob Rae
Rae has chosen veteran MP Ralph Goodale for the job of deputy leader—a wise choice—while Marc Garneau is the new Liberal House leader. It’ll be interesting to watch how the former astronaut handles this role as he’ll have to go head-to-head with the more aggressive/abrasive Conservative Peter Van Loan and New Democrat Thomas Mulcair. Judy Foote will be the Liberal Whip.
My favourite as a candidate for the job of permanent leader, New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, gets a key post as foreign-affairs critic. I think he’ll do just fine when up against Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
Scott Brison, one of my least favourite Liberal MPs, will act as finance critic, another key post. I find the man tedious and petty, but he’s done this job before and has experience. Human-rights expert Irwin Cotler gets the job of justice—he was justice minister in Paul Martin’s cabinet—and human-rights critic. And party veteran John McKay will handle defence as critic to Minister of Defence Peter MacKay.
Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion will take on intergovernmental affairs and democratic reform. An interesting choice given the new Quebec-first stance of the federal New Democrats and the fact that Dion is an architect of the Clarity Act. I’m expecting Dion to shine in a post with which he’s familiar.
Hedy Fry and Geoff Regan get promoted to Health Care and Industry. Carolyn Bennett gets Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, while Wayne Easter gets International Trade. John McCallum gets Treasury Board, Public Works & Government Services, Housing and Government Operations, and Judy Sgro gets Seniors, Pensions and the Status of Women, with David McGuinty getting Natural Resources. Not much to say about any of these, other than they are a bit shopworn and lackluster. No real stars here.
Liberal hope for the future, Justin Trudeau, gets what I assume is a rather junior post as critic for Post-secondary Education, Youth and Amateur Sport. Is Bob Rae sending us a message? I thought Trudeau was somewhat of a bust in the last election campaign and in campaigns prior to May 2 when he was sent out to bolster the chances of candidates in various races. My guess is that wily veteran Bob Rae sees right through this light-weight with the heavy-weight name.
With only 34 MPs to select from, Rae had his work cut out for him. I think he’s done quite well given the limited talent pool.