Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gordon says hells no, he won’t go

Which means of course that Gordon O’Connor’s days as Deceivin’ Steven’s minister of defence are numbered (a shuffle is rumoured to be imminent). And while as a Liberal I’m tempted to say keep him in there, as a Canadian I’d rather see someone competent in the rather important portfolio.

So, rather than re-cap the incompetent boobery of O’Connor in the defence portfolio, except to say I told you so, let’s turn instead to the matter of who replaces O’Connor at DND as Rick Hiller’s 2iC boss.

The Globe today has the official speculation:

Two senior cabinet members, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, have been touted as the most likely successors to Mr. O'Connor at Defence.

Mr. Bernier's name has been cited by Conservatives who believe a Quebec minister would make the best spokesman for the mission when the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment deploys to Kandahar.

Mr. Day, meanwhile, is seen by many Tories as a surprise success because he has avoided major public pitfalls in a portfolio plagued with tricky issues and bad news, including a spate of RCMP controversies.

My eyes bulged a bit at seeing Stock’s name on the list. I’d just assume keep Day away from anything to do with guns myself. Granted, he hasn’t made a total ass of himself in his current portfolio. But then again, given the job performance of some of his cabinet colleagues, as long as he didn’t start flinging around his own droppings he’d look good by comparison. He hasn’t exactly excelled either though.

Then there’s Maxime Bernier. What is there you can say about Bernier? Well, he’s not Michael Fortier, so that’s a positive. He’s been low profile, hasn’t garnered much attention that I can recall. He did fight Fortier on the pork-barreling regional plums related to the Boeing contract; I give him points for that.

Why would Bernier want the job though? With the Vandoos on their way to Afghanistan a mission already unpopular in Quebec is going to become even more unpopular there. Why would you want to tar an as yet unblemished Quebec minister with this one? He would become the focal point for all the anger with the mission in the province, and he needs to not only get re-elected there, but have some coattails too.

So, who would I give the job to? Since I’m guessing I have to pick from the CPC caucus that’s though. Unless I can dangle the job to a floor crosser? Nah. Hmm, that’s tough then.

I’ve always felt young James Moore was deserving of a cabinet seat, but he should start smaller. While he hasn’t wowed in agriculture, Chuck Strahl is a decent, competent guy and is at least somewhat familiar with defence issues (the closed CFB Chilliwack was in his riding). Jim Prentice is another good performer but you probably want to keep him where he is right now, in Indian Affairs. Maybe it’s time to give Monte Solberg a bigger platform to sink or swim on; he’s been invisible in human resources.

I think Strahl would be an interesting choice though.

P.S. Might be a good time to name a new Liberal defence critic too. Just sayin'.

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Graves said...

Day believes the earth to be 6000yrs old. He should be selling decorative "Science is the Devil" pencils on the street, not commanding the military.

Jason Hickman said...

Now that's more like it (and I'm ref'g to Jeff's post, not Graves's dumb as rocks comment. Tell me Graves, would you DQ anyone from Cabinet who believes in (a) the Virgin Birth, or (b) the Resurrection, or (c) that a guy named Mohammed was spoken to, personally, by God? 'Cos if so, you've just DQ'd most, if not all, Christians and Muslems in Canada. Idiot.).

Anyway, Moore crossed my mind too, but going from "not in cabinet" to "Min of Defence" at this point in time just wouldn't be wise.

From what I'm told, Maxime B is seen as highly competent and this would elevate his profile both i/s and o/s Quebec. And he hasn't shown a fear of going after touchy subjects in his current portfolio. But Industry seems to fit him quite well. Same with Prentice in Indian Affairs, if not more so.

So I dunno. I think Day's done a good job, but I'm kind of a biased audience, and I suspect the public-at-large may still be gunshy (if you'll pardon the expression) given his tenure as the CA leader. Still, if you're going to make a move ...

Strahl would be a good choice, if his French has improved; given that the BQ is going to try and play this one up (I mean honestly, what else have they got?), I think the Tories will want someone who is at least functionally bilingual.

On the whole, it'll be Bernier, I think. And while no seat is completely safe, it's worth noting that Bernier won his own seat by a big margin last time, so he may be able to take some heat w/o being personally at risk.

Oh, and if Coderre goes anywhere, I say, as a Tory: have him shadow Finance. Or if Dion's feeling especially clever, make him critic for amateur sport, with special oversight for Team Canada hockey ;)

Mushroom said...

This is my assessment.

James Moore - Too much of a jump.

Maxime Bernier - Need him in the Expenditures Cabinet Committee, as a foil to Flaherty.

Jim Prentice - Taking an international post means he quits as Chair of Operations Committee, not good for Harper's part.

Stock - Who takes over Public Safety if he moves? I suspect it may be Jason Kenney.

Chiliwack Chuck - Not sure if his health can withstand the air travel.

There is always the temptation to move Loverboy Pete from DFAIT to the DND. This will boost his flagging career as Foreign Affairs.

I would love for Harper to go mental and appoint Rahim Jaffer. We need visible minorities in the armed forces (a hell of a lot more). But then I am a card carrying liberal. My preference is Jay Hill. He deserves a promotion from Government Whip.

About Shadow Defence Minister, I tend to favour Coderre there. Not too bright with the Doan affair, but deserves credit for claiming a major political scalp in the last Parliamentary session. While Coderre gets my kudos for destroying O'Connor's political career, I am more concerned with the potential damage he can inflict on Dion's leadership. So he stays there. Note that Rae will be coming into Parliament soon and he will try to take the shine out of Coderre's rat pack tactics somewhat.

Jason Hickman said...

Thankfully, I think Strahl's health is ok these days (on a day-to-day basis, I mean)...