Massive Cabinet Shuffle. “Italians Out”

TORONTO – First, this was brought about by partisan political needs. We would be hard-pressed to find such a sea change in the government of Canada that was not caused by election results. Cui bono – to whose benefit? 

Seven Ministers were “swept from Cabinet”. Four of them were provided with a “diplomatic” exit – they announced beforehand they were not going to seek re-election.  Three of them were not. Of those, two of them were from the Italian Canadian community – one of them from the apex position of Justice Minister.

Virtually all other ministers experienced a re-arranging of duties, except for a select few. Among them is the sole survivor, Filomena Tassi, a talented person, like the others, in addition to being a woman.

On its face, the shuffle appears less about wanting to place the most competent, strongest individuals in key roles as it is an exercise in redistributing tasks (departments) and sprinkling responsibilities across portfolios, trusting that the eagerness of the “new ministers” would be sufficient to carry the day.

The “family” photo is most revealing. The Prime Minister insisted that this is the team best suited to deliver on the expectations of Canadians and to solve Canada’s problems. He is still the focus of attention, “the team” is little more than his choir. As he left the microphone, he motioned them to follow him. They did their best.

The “new incumbents” may succeed, if the flurry of consequent activity, that will/must surely flow, reflects focus and delivery. Only seven Ministers stayed in their previous portfolios. Neither they nor the “newbies” are expected to “freelance” or break new ground. In any case, with only one Minister of Italian background, Filomena Tassi, they must be sure they can do it without the Italian community.

In Italian politics, the popular metaphor is “Il canto del Cigno” – the demise of the swan. It is a last- gasp effort to generate enthusiasm for a government seen as having surpassed its “best before date”.

An Abacus poll, published yesterday, seems to confirm this. Ominously it reports the Liberal government at 28% popularity, currently ten percentage points behind the Conservatives at 38% nationally.

Whether the re-arranging of the chairs will help reverse this trend remains to be seen.