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Late yesterday morning, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced his cabinet. His choice for Foreign Minister was not ours. Of course, a Cabinet is a lot more than a Foreign Minister, but the new Harper team gives this quarter more reason for concern than celebration. The new government will, as all governments are, be judged more on its policies than its personnel, but for the most part, Harper started on the wrong foot.
Here are the highlights and lowlights of the new Canadian Cabinet.
Public Safety - Stockwell Day: This is obviously not where we wanted Mr. Day to land, but this post is hardly inconsequential. In fact, the ministry includes both the Mounties and CSIS, the intelligence agency that requested, and the spiked, Brian McAdam's investigation in Communist espionage in North America (expect to hear more for Mr. McAdam in the future; he's the head of China Support Network's Canada branch). Minister Day's views on Communist China (Epoch Times, Hansard) were one of the reasons this quarter endorsed his party in the first place. If he can expose and uproot the Communist espionage network, not only will he justify that endorsement, but he will also make North America and the world at large infinitely safer.
Foreign Affairs - Peter MacKay: There is reason to be concerned about Mr. MacKay, but the basis for that ties into his personal life, which makes me uneasy (for those interested in said info, here it is, via the Shotgun). As for MacKay's public record, he did make a mention of the espionage (Hansard), and his record beyond that is sparse.
International Trade - David Emerson: This is the one that turns the stomach. As an American, I am far less concerned that the Prime Minister took an opportunity to poach the Liberal benches, but did it have to be a member of Paul Martin's Cabinet? The former Industry Minister with such a blasé attitude toward the Communist appetite for Canada's natural resources (Wall Street Journal via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)? In International Trade?!?!
Natural Resources - Gary Lunn: Speaking of resources, there isn't much on Minister Lunn, except for his insistence that a boat full of escapees from Communist China be sent back (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). Yes, he made the statement in 1999; yes, he was focusing on immigration. However, if he was unwilling to recognize Communist China as an exceptional case then, is he willing to see it as such, now?
Industry - Maxime Bernier: An unknown at present. Yes, his father has a long political history, but I know from experience: like father, like son does not necessarily hold when it comes to political views.
International Cooperation - Josée Verner: Another unknown. This was unfortunate as the former critic on this file, Helena Guergis, was so vocal in demanding foreign aid to Communist China come to a halt (CBC). It should be noted that Mme Verner is also the Minister for La Francophonie, which would at least mean she'd be more interested in sending aid to Haiti, Equitorial Guinea, etc. So long as the aid amount to Communist China is zero, we're happy. Yes, I'm grasping at straws here, but at least there is a straw.
House leader/Democratic Reform - Bob Nicholson: The posts have nothing to do with foreign policy, but Nicholson is still the fellow who called for an end to all aid and trade with Communist China (before backing away from the latter - Hansard). Perhaps another straw, but still . . .
FROZEN OUT - Jason Kenney: Yes, he is Harper's Parliamentary Secretary, but unless that's as powerful as White House Chief of Staff (memo to the Canadian readership: I have my doubts, am I right?) this is a snub, and snubbing the only elected official to pay his condolences to the family of Zhao Ziyang (Western Standard) is a terrible message to send.
All in all, the Cabinet leaves a lot to be desired, but there is still potential here. The issues of espionage (if uprooted) and funding (if eliminated) are still more than enough for anti-Communists to support this government. However, if the funding is preserved, even at a reduced level, and/or Day is either undermined in or dissuaded from catching Communist spies, all the hopes of the last few years will go to naught. Mr. Harper, you have been warned: there is no reason for us to automatically believe blue and red are more than colors in a rainbow- just ask Taiwan.