Today's Cabinet Shuffle, necessitated by the retirement of Jim Prentice to move on to a job at CIBC, was as minor as it could have been. A replacement had to be found for Mr. Prentice, and while there were no other important changes the strategy of wooing Greater Toronto prior to the next election continued.
Mr. Prentice's replacement at Environment is Mr. Peter Kent, whose experience in the media will undoubtedly be very useful in a position which this government uses primarily as a heat shield for criticism of the government's environmental policy. I don't envy Mr. Kent the role, though a seat at the Cabinet table is certainly a prize. In addition Mr. Julian Fantino, recent winner of the close Vaughn by-election, was appointed as Minister of State for Seniors. Mr. Kent and Mr. Fantino, a former Chief of both the Toronto and Ontario Provincial Police, are highly visible parts of the Conservative strategy of targeting Toronto seats for the next election. Putting them both in Cabinet, however minor Mr. Fantino's role, will be intended to raise their profile.
Alberta sees Mr. Prentice replaced in Cabinet, at least in theory, by the promotion of Mr. Ted Menzies from Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of State for finance. Ms. Diane Ablonczy moves sideways from the post now occupied by Mr. Fantino to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs). With a cabinet whose major figures aside from the Prime Minister are all from outside of Alberta it will be interesting to see if there will be any repercussions here in the Conservative Party's heartland.