Steger: How does Canada’s foreign policy team stack up after today’s cabinet shuffle?
These choices reinforce the prime minister’s policy emphasis on the economy. Ministers Baird and Fast have only been in their posts for two years, and the PM clearly wants to “stay the course” by keeping the two of them at the helm of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, respectively. Keeping Fast in the International Trade portfolio, in particular, is critical if the Canada-EU CETA is to be concluded within the short term. There are only a few issues remaining – all difficult issues requiring political decisions. Bringing in a new Minister at this stage in these negotiations would have been a colossal mistake, especially when the CETA is a policy priority for Harper. Moving Paradis into International Development is an interesting decision – it is consistent with Harper’s focus on economic policy, and it also demonstrates that this portfolio is important to the prime minister. Paradis is the senior Minister from Quebec. This is not a demotion for him, it is a signal that International Development is going to be taken seriously by this government, while at the same time Paradis’ appointment appears to be consistent with recent policy initiatives to involve the private sector in the delivery of development projects.