Ottawa is once again a hub of activity as Members of Parliament have arrived in our capital and for a few days many departing and retiring MP’s will also be in attendance as the changeover occurs. The 42nd Parliament is so far a very demanding one on House administration as there are over 200 newly elected rookie MP’s that will require offices, staff, orientation and training that can lead to delays in getting up and running. Also occurring this week was the official swearing in ceremony for our incoming Prime Minister at Rideau Hall along with the traditional swearing in of the new cabinet.
The new Liberal cabinet at 31 members is smaller than the 39 member cabinet that was announced after the 2011 election by our former Prime Minister. The new cabinet also follows a gender parity policy mandated by the Liberals, so there are fifteen women and 15 men in the new cabinet. If you are wondering why the math does not add up to 31 members, it is due to Prime Minister Trudeau naming himself as a Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth in his cabinet.
My thoughts? While it is somewhat customary for opposition members to criticize a newly appointed cabinet, I will largely refrain. For any newly elected Premier or Prime Minister, it is always a challenging task to select a cabinet where there are so many different variables that must be taken into consideration and compromises are not always popular. On a local level I have heard some complaints that British Columbia has just three cabinet seats compared to Ontario and Quebec that have 18 seats combined; however I would caution that the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries have yet to be announced by Prime Minister Trudeau and I believe there is a good chance one or more will end up in British Columbia and may likely include our new Kelowna-Lake Country MP Steven Fuhr.
I would also like to congratulate our new Ministers who are from British Columbia that include Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough, all from the Lower Mainland. A criticism I do have of the new cabinet is that one of the portfolio’s that was eliminated to achieve a smaller cabinet means there is no longer a Minister of State for Seniors and this is also a concern I will share in Ottawa.
Finally this week the Official Opposition is currently meeting and it is expected will name a new interim leader shortly that in turn will lead to the announcement of a shadow cabinet of official critics. The third party NDP is also meeting this week and is also expected to announce its own shadow critic line up shortly. Hopefully by the time you read this week’s MP report the Liberal Government will announce the date when Parliament will be recalled for an expected throne speech. My expectation is that this will occur in early December however this date has yet to be confirmed.
I would also like to thank the many citizens who have shared comments and questions with me over the past week. This input in very valuable and I invite all citizens to take a moment to share your concerns. I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or toll free at 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.