Blaine Calkins
Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe

2018-07-23 (July)

Cabinet Shuffle

On July 18th Prime Minister Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in a desperate attempt to press the
reset button on his failed government before next year’s federal election. This cabinet shuffle is an admission of failure on key files, such as border security, gang violence, international trade, and natural resources.

Thousands of individuals are illegally crossing Canada’s border every month, and there is no end
in sight. A recent poll found that the majority of Canadians disapprove of the Liberal Government’s handling
the illegal border crossing crisis. After months of refusing to even acknowledge that there is a border crisis, the Liberal Government has now created a new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction portfolio. The creation of this new portfolio is an admission by the Liberal Government that their inaction on illegal border crossings has failed and that a new strategy is needed.

The Liberal Government has played up their creation of a new ministerial portfolio for Organized Crime
Reduction. Meanwhile, this same Liberal Government’s soft-on-crime “justice” bill, C-75, is reducing the criminal penalties for participating in a gang and recruiting minors to be gang members. So far the Liberal Government’s plan to combat organized crime appears to consist solely of Bill C-71, a backdoor firearms registry that targets law-abiding firearms owners while doing nothing to tackle gang violence. In fact, new Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair is a long-time
advocate for the restoration of the firearms registry. At the same time our previous Conservative Government was eliminating the wasteful firearms registry, Minister Blair warned that “we lose [the firearms
registry] at our peril”. 

Trade is yet another file where the Liberal Government has failed Canadians. Canada has been plunged into a trade war with our largest trading partner, the United States, with NAFTA hanging in the balance. Furthermore, the Liberal Government has still failed to ratify the TPP, a deal that PM Trudeau almost destroyed at the last minute by snubbing the leader’s signing meeting. It is clear that the Liberal Government’s inexcusable bungling of the trade file warrants a new minister on the file. Unfortunately, PM Trudeau has selected former Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, who has presided over the
cancellation of the Northern Gateway and Energy East pipelines, to take on this important portfolio.

Amarjeet Sohi will now be entrusted with the vitally important natural resources portfolio after a disappointing performance as Minister of Infrastructure. While heading the Infrastructure file, Minister Sohi was forced to admit that he failed to adequately inform the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) about
his ministry’s infrastructure spending. Additionally, the PBO discovered earlier this year that Minister Sohi had failed to spend about half of the designated infrastructure money. When the PBO pressed his ministry for their new plan to spend the designated $186 Billion in infrastructure money the PBO found that the plan “does not exist”. Minister Sohi’s failure to get infrastructure projects built certainly does not instill much confidence in his ability to get essential pipeline projects built. 

The Liberal Government’s response to the numerous crises of their own making is to shuffle failed ministers from one portfolio to another. This is not an adequate solution to the serious challenges facing Canadians. Canadians expect and deserve better from their government. Over the next year, I will be watching these ministers closely and demanding action to resolve these challenges. 

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Blaine Calkins - Member of Parliament for Red Deer - Lacombe