However, an opposition must prove it is ready to govern and the first thing a prime minister has to do is name a cabinet. If the leader of the opposition cannot take on that task, I think it makes him look weak and Dion has made a tactical error.
In all, there are 53 of 100 MPs with critic or caucus leadership roles. Why not give all 100 roles if you are going to give that many? You end up insulting the rest of the bunch.
Denis Coderre, who is the last remaining face of the "corruption wing" of the Liberal Party of Quebec and "genius" behind the nation policy in Ignatieff's platform gets the high profile position of defence critic. In my mind, Coderre shouldn't even be getting his nomination papers signed, let alone a senior critic role. He is a slimey and arrogant character who does the party a disservice every time he opens his mouth.
I am also annoyed by the inclusion of John McCallum as finance critic. McCallum has a finance background and served for a time as junior finance minister under Chrétien, however he has served in this role since February and has not impressed me. His arrogance and condecending nature towards other MPs and journalists on television programs make the Liberal Party look arrogant and condecending. Moreover, he is not effective in question period. A good job for John, who I like, would be chair of the Public Accounts Committee, allowing him to use his expertise to hold the government's books accountable.
It is interesting to look at New Brunswick where former cabinet minister Andy Scott has really been left out. Of the six New Brunswick Liberals, 3 of them are given critic roles and Scott is not one of them.
- Jean-Claude D'Amours of Madawaska-Restigouche is ACOA critic
- Charlie Hubbard of Miramichi is Rural Affairs critic
- Paul Zed of Saint John is Cities & Communities critic
In addition to critics, the caucus will have 5 committees. Four policy committees which are Economic Prosperity, Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability and Canada and the World. Essentially Dion's "three pillars" + foreign affairs. The fifth committee is the aforementioned Priorities and Planning Committee which will be made up of the caucus leadership and chairs and vice-chairs of these committees.
Andy Scott is vice-chair of the Committee on Social Justice.
Dominic LeBlanc gets a seat on Priorities and Planning due to his recently announced role as vice-chair of the party's (not caucus) policy committee.
Brian Murphy is a member of the Committee on Social Justice.
Also named are "caucus mentors", Lawrence MacAulay of PEI gets oversight over NB and NS as well as his home province. Not entirely sure what this role is, but it seems to be comparable to a political minister, I am not sure how keen the NBLA and NSLP will be if this is the case. Their specified role is to mentor new candidates, so I guess it makes sense to have just one for the Martimes as there are only a few unheld seats. Ironically, they are being given this role due to "their wealth of knowledge and experience", yet the mentor for Newfoundland (sic) is Labrador MP Todd Russell who is the newest member of the Atlantic Caucus having been elected in a 2005 by-election.
This is not how I would have done it, but it has potential, so we shall see.
ADDENDUM - Where did the leadership candidates end up?
- Carolyn Bennett is critic for Seniors, the Disabled and the Social Economy.
- Maurizio Bevilacqua is critic for Science & Research.
- Scott Brison is the Industry critic and co-chair of the party (not caucus) Platform Committee.
- Stéphane Dion is the leader of the opposition and chair of the committee on Priorities and Planning.
- Ken Dryden is the chair of the committee on Social Justice.
- Hedy Fry is critic for Sport and the Vancouver Olympics (which I guess doesn't involve sports?).
- Martha Hall Findlay is the policy outreach chair (not caucus).
- Michael Ignatieff is deputy leader of the opposition, vice-chair of the committee on Priorities and Planning and an ex-officio member of all other committees.
- Gerard Kennedy is the special advisor to the leader on Election Readiness and Renewal.
- Bob Rae is co-chair of the party (not caucus) Platform Committee.
- Joe Volpe is Transport critic.
I was shocked to find that some of my predictions were actually close. Though I misjudged the general structure of the shadow cabinet/caucus roles, I did get 7/28 (9/30 if I count Dion and Ignatieff) of the people I named matched up to the right portfolios. Three others were in similar portfolios to what I predicted.
Where I went right
Ray Bonin - Caucus Chair
Bonnie Brown - Health
Wayne Easter - Agriculture
Hedy Fry - Sport
Tina Keeper - Canadian Heritage
Anita Neville - Indian Affairs
Karen Redman - Whip
Where I came close
Navdeep Bains - International Trade (I predicted International Cooperation)
Sue Barnes - Public Safety (I predicted Justice)
Marlene Jennings - Justice (I predicted Public Safety)