Friday, August 10, 2007

A rumour to make Reformers cry...

Cabinet shuffle rumours are a dime a dozen these days. One of them involves Peter McKay going to Industry, with Maxime Bernier taking his place at Foreign Affairs. An anonymous "Tory" (I guess not senior enough to be called a senior Tory) described the scenario as a win-win:

The thinking is that rising star Maxime Bernier, the current industry minister, would raise the party’s profile in Quebec if he was moved to foreign affairs, while Mr. MacKay would have the opportunity to boost flagging Tory fortunes in Atlantic Canada by doling out Industry Department money.

It's enough to break the heart of a die-hard Reform Party loyalist. I can just imagine a single tear running down Preston Manning’s cheek. Or the cheek of Stephen Harper circa 2002:
Members of the Nova Scotia legislature voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a resolution condemning Stephen Harper, the leader of the Canadian Alliance.

The resolution was in response to Harper's comments that there is a "defeatist attitude" in Atlantic

"There is a dependence in the region that breeds a culture of defeatism," the Opposition leader said Wednesday following question period in the House.

How far Mr. Harper has come in his thinking. Anyway, more anonymous Tories expound on what would be the best portfolio for McKay to buy votes with in Atlantic Canada:
On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a good idea, since Mr. MacKay is already in charge of ACOA, which doles out economic development money in the region, and a move to Industry would be seen as a demotion.

"ACOA’s a cash cow in Atlantic Canada," said one Tory. "If they really want to win back the region, they’ve already got him holding the purse. It’s a decent portfolio and I could see them doing it, but I don’t think it helps them win back the region."

Sure, but there’s a third hand too, attached to the wrist of yet another anonymous Torry:
On the other hand, says another Tory, the industry minister controls infrastructure spending, and that means power.

"There’s a load of infrastructure money in the last budget, and the Atlantic Gateway is all about infrastructure," the Tory said. "I wouldn’t say that’s a bad move for MacKay. What kind of profile do you get with foreign affairs? You might have a profile in Britain, but it’s not doing much for him in Nova Scotia."

How best to dole out the pork, save the Cons from a wipe-out in Atlantic Canada and save McKay’s seat from Elizabeth May? Choices, choices.

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Mushroom said...

I am not so sure.

If Bernier goes to Finance you will see a more libertarian slant. Flaherty has been quite interventionist with regards to the income trusts issue and was a proponent of the Telus-BCE merger before it fell through. In Ontario, he was more interventionist than Eves as he failed to balance the budget in favour of massive tax cuts.

What you will get with Bernier is the most right wing Finance Minister since the R.B. Bennett era. Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't.

A BCer in Toronto said...

While Bernier to finance is one rumour, this rumour has Bernier going to Foreign Affairs.