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Environment at Center of Canada Cabinet Shakeup

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  • mtneuman@juno.com
    Environment at Center of Canada Cabinet Shakeup CANADA: January 5, 2007 OTTAWA - Stung by criticism of its environmental policy and preparing for a possible
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2007
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      Environment at Center of Canada Cabinet Shakeup


      CANADA: January 5, 2007


      OTTAWA - Stung by criticism of its environmental policy and preparing for
      a possible election this year, Canada's government made sweeping changes
      to its cabinet on Thursday and promised to do more to fight climate
      change.


      The environment was not one of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen
      Harper's main election priorities when he won a minority mandate a year
      ago, but a groundswell of concern, especially over global warming, has
      forced a new focus.
      Harper picked John Baird, a fiery cabinet minister who oversaw the civil
      service, to replace embattled Environment Minister Rona Ambrose. He said
      she had done more in less than a year than the outgoing Liberals had in
      12 years in power.

      "But we recognize that, particularly when it comes to clean air and
      climate change, that Canadians expect a lot more. We've put an
      experienced minister into that portfolio," he said.

      Harper addressed reporters outside his residence without an overcoat,
      rare in the world's third-coldest capital in January, as the temperature
      climbed to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit).

      He made seven cabinet changes and added six secretaries of state, junior
      ministers who are not part of the full cabinet but who sit on cabinet
      committees and give greater visibility to the Conservative team.

      Harper kept Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in his job as he drafts a
      budget, most likely to be delivered in February or March, that could
      trigger the next election.

      One of the three opposition parties must back the budget or the
      government will fall. Harper said it was important to have the right team
      "as we face the possibility of an election."

      He said he did not intend to call an election, and whether the other
      parties decide to pull the plug may depend partly on their poll
      standings.

      The Conservatives had slipped marginally behind the Liberals in public
      support, partly over the environment, but the latest survey showed them
      pulling ahead again.

      A Decima survey taken Dec. 27-30 and provided to the Canadian Press news
      agency put the Conservatives at 34 percent and the Liberals at 31
      percent. The leftist New Democrats stood at 15 percent and the separatist
      Bloc Quebecois at 10 percent.

      Newly minted Liberal leader Stephane Dion has made the environment his
      top priority and has sharpened his attack on what he says have been
      inadequate Conservative measures to arrest global warming.

      "Do they want to pretend to do something?" he asked after the shuffle.
      "What Canada needs is a major shift."

      As environment minister, Baird's task will be to put the Conservatives
      back on the offensive on environmental issues and he can be expected to
      finger the Liberals for letting emissions rise far above targets set by
      the Kyoto protocol.

      "Canada has perhaps the worst record of any developed country in the
      world," said Harper. "We have a lot of work to do and this is not an easy
      file."

      Baird is quick on his feet and is known for his aggressive attacks on the
      opposition during parliamentary debates. He takes credit for pushing
      through legislation to clean up government after the previous Liberal
      administration fell into disgrace over a corruption scandal.

      Harper made reporters chuckle when he said that Baird, who can go red in
      the face as he parries opposition attacks, had his own communications
      style. But the prime minister promised the change would be substantive
      and not just cosmetic.

      "Communications alone will not address the challenges that we face in
      terms of the environment and climate change in particular," he said.

      Ambrose moved to minister of intergovernmental affairs, which involves
      promoting Canadian unity. She replaced Peter Van Loan, who took over as
      House leader from Rob Nicholson. Nicholson became justice minister
      replacing Vic Toews, who replaced Baird at the head of the Treasury
      Board.

      David Emerson, who negotiated an end to Canada's long-standing softwood
      lumber dispute with the United States, stayed on as trade minister, while
      Peter MacKay remained foreign minister.

      (Additional reporting by Louise Egan) The environment was not one of
      Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's main election priorities
      when he won a minority mandate a year ago, but a groundswell of concern,
      especially over global warming, has forced a new focus.

      Harper picked John Baird, a fiery cabinet minister who oversaw the civil
      service, to replace embattled Environment Minister Rona Ambrose. He said
      she had done more in less than a year than the outgoing Liberals had in
      12 years in power.

      "But we recognize that, particularly when it comes to clean air and
      climate change, that Canadians expect a lot more. We've put an
      experienced minister into that portfolio," he said.

      Harper addressed reporters outside his residence without an overcoat,
      rare in the world's third-coldest capital in January, as the temperature
      climbed to 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit).

      He made seven cabinet changes and added six secretaries of state, junior
      ministers who are not part of the full cabinet but who sit on cabinet
      committees and give greater visibility to the Conservative team.

      Harper kept Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in his job as he drafts a
      budget, most likely to be delivered in February or March, that could
      trigger the next election.

      One of the three opposition parties must back the budget or the
      government will fall. Harper said it was important to have the right team
      "as we face the possibility of an election."

      He said he did not intend to call an election, and whether the other
      parties decide to pull the plug may depend partly on their poll
      standings.

      The Conservatives had slipped marginally behind the Liberals in public
      support, partly over the environment, but the latest survey showed them
      pulling ahead again.

      A Decima survey taken Dec. 27-30 and provided to the Canadian Press news
      agency put the Conservatives at 34 percent and the Liberals at 31
      percent. The leftist New Democrats stood at 15 percent and the separatist
      Bloc Quebecois at 10 percent.

      Newly minted Liberal leader Stephane Dion has made the environment his
      top priority and has sharpened his attack on what he says have been
      inadequate Conservative measures to arrest global warming.

      "Do they want to pretend to do something?" he asked after the shuffle.
      "What Canada needs is a major shift."

      As environment minister, Baird's task will be to put the Conservatives
      back on the offensive on environmental issues and he can be expected to
      finger the Liberals for letting emissions rise far above targets set by
      the Kyoto protocol.

      "Canada has perhaps the worst record of any developed country in the
      world," said Harper. "We have a lot of work to do and this is not an easy
      file."

      Baird is quick on his feet and is known for his aggressive attacks on the
      opposition during parliamentary debates. He takes credit for pushing
      through legislation to clean up government after the previous Liberal
      administration fell into disgrace over a corruption scandal.

      Harper made reporters chuckle when he said that Baird, who can go red in
      the face as he parries opposition attacks, had his own communications
      style. But the prime minister promised the change would be substantive
      and not just cosmetic.

      "Communications alone will not address the challenges that we face in
      terms of the environment and climate change in particular," he said.

      Ambrose moved to minister of intergovernmental affairs, which involves
      promoting Canadian unity. She replaced Peter Van Loan, who took over as
      House leader from Rob Nicholson. Nicholson became justice minister
      replacing Vic Toews, who replaced Baird at the head of the Treasury
      Board.

      David Emerson, who negotiated an end to Canada's long-standing softwood
      lumber dispute with the United States, stayed on as trade minister, while
      Peter MacKay remained foreign minister.

      (Additional reporting by Louise Egan)

      Story by Randall Palmer
      http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39697/story.htm
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