Blaine Calkins
Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe

2019-11-21 (November)

Cabinet Shuffle - The Right Stuff or Lots of Fluff?

Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new Cabinet for the 43rd Parliament. The men and women sworn in and the decisions they make over the coming months will have a profound impact on Alberta. I wish to offer my sincerest congratulations to all of them on this honour; however as a Member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and the MP for Red Deer – Lacombe I will be watching their decisions carefully and speaking out to hold them accountable to Canadians. I and my Conservative colleagues will also work hard develop thoughtful policy alternatives that they will be forced to consider in this minority government situation, to ensure that our constituents are well represented, and that respect for the rule of law, fiscal responsibility and support for essential industries is kept at the forefront.

Three Ministers that I will be paying especially close attention to are Min. Seamus O’Regan (Natural Resources), Min. Jonathan Wilkinson (Environment and Climate Change) and Min. Bill Morneau (Finance). More than any of their other Cabinet colleagues, the decisions and the actions of these three Ministers will undoubtedly have the greatest impact across Central Alberta.

I sat on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans while Mr. Wilkinson was the Minister responsible for that portfolio and I have concerns over his new appointment to Environment and Climate Change. Much like his predecessor, he is beholden to Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, and his anti-industry stance as Fisheries Minister all but destroyed recreational fisheries on the West Coast. If his management of fisheries is any indication of things to come, the energy sector is even in more trouble than before.

While it is encouraging that Minister O’Regan comes from the oil producing province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that is unfortunately where the optimism ends. Mr. O’Regan has demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the profound impact that C-69 has had on the energy sector in Canada, even being criticized for making out-of-touch statements on the consequences of the Liberal policy by the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industry Association over the summer. While it is clear that Minister O’Regan has the Prime Minister’s ear, it’s unclear that he will be whispering anything into it that will be helpful to the oil and gas sector or the hundreds of thousands of people that rely on it for well-paying jobs.

With Mr. Morneau retaining his role as Minister of Finance, it appears that the Liberal government is doubling down on endless deficits, increased taxes, reckless spending and broken promises. During the last election, Canadians told us loud and clear that affordability is one of the most pressing issues, and this is the same Minister of Finance who has failed for four years to address these concerns -  it doesn’t appear as though he has any plans to do so now. Equally concerning, this is the same Minister that quietly locked in the existing equalization formula until 2024, despite the economic hard times we in Alberta have been facing for the past four years.

In the coming days I expect the Mandate Letters for these Ministers to be made public and all Canadians will have a better grasp of the Liberals’ priorities in the 43rd Parliament, and together we will find out if the Liberals received the loud and clear message that Western Canadians have sent them.

While I remain concerned with these and other Cabinet appointments, I am optimistic that with the encouragement of our strong and experienced Conservative opposition that we will be able to advance initiatives that will be of benefit to Central Alberta and the residents of Red Deer – Lacombe.
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Blaine Calkins - Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe