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HARPER’S NEW TEAM

iPolitics.ca’s guide to the new faces of cabinet. By Kathleen Harris, Devon Black, and Jessie Willms. Photos by Kyle Hamilton, and The Canadian Press.


Will be in charge of the government’s day-to-day business in the House of Commons and speak with other parties about the procedure of bills and debates. The role is key in a minority government when negotiations are critical; less important in a majority government setting when the ruling Conservatives have more control over their agenda.

House Leader Peter van Loan His first order of business is to retable and pass a tweaked federal budget. His longer-term task is to slay the deficit – a balancing act the prime minister pledged to accelerate by one year to 2014 during the election campaign.

Finance Jim Flaherty Will oversee all files related to Canadian business in this powerful and multi-faceted economic portfolio. Lots of hot issues to deal with, including digital policy, copyright reform, and foreign ownership rules.

Industry Christian Paradis

Foreign Affairs John Baird

The coveted foreign affairs file comes with much travel, hospitality, and hob-knobbing with diplomats around the world. But the workload is heavy and serious: overseeing the transformation of Canada’s role in Afghanistan, the intervention in Libya, positioning Canada’s in the fast-changing democratic uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East are all on the agenda. After losing a bid for a seat on the powerful UN Security Council, the minister is expected to advance Canada’s position on the international stage.


Government money trickles and flows through the Treasury Board, and the president holds the purse strings. With a massive deficit-reduction in story, Clement will have to stickhandle a plan to trim about $4 billion from government spending each year without declaring war on the civil service.

Treasury Board Tony Clement The Conservatives have put great emphasis on the defence file. On the front burner: the changing mission in Afghanistan from combat to training, determining the future of Canada’s operations in Libya, pursuing military procurement such as the F-35 stealth fighter jets and defending Arctic sovereignty. The defence minister also serves as a morale-booster for the troops.

Defence Peter MacKay Will oversee important and often contentious legislation and giant caseload involving newcomers to Canada who arrive as refugees or immigrants. Kenney was also handed the powerful position as chair of cabinet’s operations committee, a publicly low-key position that yields tremendous influence on the government’s strategy and agenda.

Immigration Jason Kenney Charged with a wide area of issues from tackling climate change to expanding national parks, the environment minister must strike a delicate balance between promoting green policy without punishing the wealth-generating oil and gas sector. The portfolio also involves representing Canada at important international meetings.

Environment Peter Kent


This department directs policy that affects all modes of federal transportation in Canada, including airlines and airports, trains and ships. The portfolio also takes in Infrastructure, which means a lot of time spent negotiating with provinces and municipalities over funding for crumbling infrastructure.

Transport Denis Lebel Always a busy file, the first priority for the justice minister is to table an omnibus crime bill that takes in leftover pieces of legislation that didn’t pass before the election. During the campaign, the prime minister promised to pass the sweeping package within 100 sitting days of Parliament.

Justice and Attorney General Rob Nicholson Along with helping push Canada’s maternal health priority globally, Aglukkaq will play a pivotal role at home in crafting a renewed health care funding arrangement with the provinces and territories that will kick in after the current health accord expires in 2014.

Health Leona Aglukkaq More than 70 per cent of Canada’s trade is with the U.S., but the Conservatives have launched a robust diversification agenda to find and negotiate with new partners. One of the big pacts in the works is with the European Union. Other deals with some 50 countries are being pursued as Canada tries to capitalize on emerging markets such as China, India, and Brazil.

International Trade Ed Fast


Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney

Historically a department that catered mostly to administering pensions and commemorating world war veterans, the conflict in Afghanistan has changed the veteran population and the department’s mandate dramatically. The once sleepy file has become recently embroiled in controversy as modern-day veterans fight for improved benefits, including compensation for permanent disabilities caused by war.

The department is getting a name change, but the mandate will remain the same: to promote health, safety, and prosperity in First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and northern communities.

Aboriginal Affairs John Duncan Oversees farming and agri-food policy in Canada, the minister is also on the front lines of crises such as the listeriosis and mad cow scares. Food safety policy and reforming the Wheat Board will be among the minister’s top priorities.

Agriculture Gerry Ritz A liaison portfolio that wheels and deals with provincial and territorial governments, as well as municipalities.

Intergovernmental Affairs Peter Penashue


Serves as the go-between for MPs in the House of Commons and Senators in the red chamber. Rallies Senators to ensure government legislation gets approved in the upper chamber — though this is a less important role now that the Conservatives hold a majority in the Senate as well as the House.

Leader in the Senate Marjory LeBreton A key economic and scientific research portfolio, the natural resources file often comes becomes mired in controversy. Natural Resources regulates everything from the oil sands to nuclear plants, and plays a critical role in mapping out Canada’s claims to continental shelf boundaries in the Arctic.

Natural Resources Joe Oliver Oversees federal labour legislation in Canada, from workplace health and safety, industrial relations, and employment standards. She is also the voice for international issues such as eliminating forced or child labour and negotiates agreements at world organizations.

Labour Lisa Raitt This department funds and oversees projects that help impoverished or disaster-struck nations around the world.

International Co-operation Bev Oda


Pushes policies related to fishing and maritime hunting, from determining quotas that ensure plentiful stocks to protecting Canada’s aboriginal interests on the seal hunt and international policy-making that protect the health of ocean ecosystems.

Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield Oversees all government buying and selling, from office furniture to buildings. In the status of women portfolio, the minister is tasked with promoting policies that empower women, especially in the workplace.

Status of Women, Public Works Rona Ambrose Pushes policy and programs related to arts and culture, historical commemoration, official languages, and national identity. Also oversees the CBC. Usually a feel-good file, but occasionally handles hot potatoes like controversies over the national anthem or funding for far-out arts groups.

Heritage James Moore Oversees programs that keep help Canadians with job skills and retraining – an important file in a time of economic uncertainty and with an aging workforce. Also administers grants for projects such as homelessness to disabled and apprentice programs.

Human Resources Diane Finley


Always a busy department for the Conservatives with a high priority on law and order, this mammoth ministry oversees RCMP, CSIS, Corrections Canada, and the National Parole Board. It also plays a leading role in emergency preparedness. A hot file will be prison expansion to accommodate an expected rise in inmates from tougher crime legislation.

Public Safety Vic Toews This is the domain of the Canada Revenue Agency that collects individual and business taxes and polices charitable organizations. It also sets and enforces tax policy.

National Revenue Gail Shea This is a new portfolio that last existed in 2004. The primary focus will be to oversee military procurement, though Defence Minister Peter MacKay said he will have final say on big equipment purchases.

Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino

Harper's New Team - May 2011  

Harper's New Team - May 2011

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