Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cabinet shuffle 

As most Canadians are by now well aware, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced changes to his cabinet today. The big news, of course, was Rona Ambrose being shuffled out of the Environment portfolio. However, it is usually a good idea to "look at the fine print," so to speak and see what other changes have been made that have been overshadowed by the Big Story.

It may turn out to be a very minor change, but I still think it is worth noting that Christian Paradis, MP for Mégantic—L'Érable in Quebec has been appointed Secretary of State (Agriculture). So, what does a Secretary of State do, you ask? Here's what the press release from the PMO tells us:

Each of the Secretaries of State has been given a specific area of responsibility, in order to assist one or more Ministers consistent with previous Canadian practice and the practice in other Westminster governments. Secretaries of State will discharge this role in a number of ways, including:

• representing their Minister, or the Government, at events;

• meeting with stakeholders and other groups;

• demonstrating policy leadership on one or more specific initiatives relating to their assignment, and at the direction of the responsible Minister; and

• appearing on behalf of their Minister in Parliament and before its committees as may be required.

So, even though Secretaries of State are not members of Cabinet, Mr. Paradis is not without influence with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the ministry responsible for Rural Development.

In addition to the Secretary of State, there are also two Parliamentary Secretaries for AAFC: David Anderson and Jacques Gourde. We all know Chuck Strahl is the Minister, but it is also good to be aware of some of the other less prominent but still influential leaders in our government.

I'm afraid I know very little about how the U.S. government works, but I did note that with the opening of the 110th Congress today, two new members were officially added to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.

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