KAMLOOPS — When Prime Minister Trudeau shuffled his cabinet August 28th, much of the news centred around the creation of an extra minister involved in aboriginal affairs, and former TV host Seamus O’Reagan moved into Veterans Affairs.
The government’s move to add Jane Philpott into the mix with Carolyn Bennett was a big move toward the government’s effort to resolve many outstanding issues involving our First Nations. Veterans have long been crying out about how poorly they have been treated, and they need to have something done to relieve their needs. Whether O’Reagan is the man for the job remains to be seen.
But the gem of the entire shuffle might be the increased role to be played by Carla Qualtrough, the MP for Delta. A rookie in terms of elected service, she is no rookie when it comes to hard work, and her background gives her a lot of strength. She was first given the role of Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. A former Paralympic swimmer, an obvious choice for the portfolio, and a chance to give B.C. a third cabinet minister, along with Jody Wilson-Raybould and Harjit Sajjan. A lawyer with a great record of public service, the 44-year old Qualtrough had a pretty good gig.
Then came the wildfires, and Qualtrough was given the task of liasing with the province and other emergency groups to deal with the federal response to the wildfire crisis. So far, I believe she has done good work, largely not in the public spotlight, but behind the scenes and outside the photo ops, where the real work gets done.
Qualtrough was moved from Sport to a much tougher role in the August 28th cabinet shuffle. As Minister of Public Services and Procurement, she has a huge responsibility in many ares of government operations, far beyond the scope of her previous ministry. Essentially, there are several dozen Acts of Parliament that she is responsible for keeping track of, and is instrumental in the process of acquiring things like new Search and Rescue planes, new fighters for the Armed Forces, tendering for new projects, and a number of financial statutes that must be followed. This is a detail-oriented job that requires a steady hand and a firm grip on the rudder of Canadian finances. The fact that Qualtrough has been given this task is a testimony to the esteem she is held in by her colleagues, and the promise it holds out for her political future.
When Trudeau got elected, Wilson-Raybould and Sajjan were the two prominent cabinet ministers from B.C. chosen by the Prime Minister, but Carla Qualtrough’s star is fast-rising, and she now has a chance to have a real influence on government. The Prime Minister has put her in a tough role. Her future depends on how well she reacts to the challenge.