07.13.2013 10:48 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: we don’t give a rat’s ass about your stupid cabinet shuffle

Cabinet shuffles don’t matter.

Not to Joe and Jane Frontporch, they don’t. To real folks, like Joe and Jane, it’s just Ottawa talking about Ottawa.

To those who stalk the corridors of power on the Hill, peering at their BlackBerrys, nothing could be more important than a cabinet shuffle.

In fact, one CBC reporter opined last week that all the shuffle talk was “exhausting.” (That’s a quote.) Except, um, generally speaking, shuffles aren’t that important.

And, in the specific case of the Harper government, they aren’t important at all.

There are five reasons for this, all of which are (or should be) pretty obvious to denizens of Parliament Hill, even the ones with their gazes locked on their navels.

1. Cabinet shuffles don’t change government fortunes. When a regime is drifting (as the Harper government is) or looking tired and old and near the end of their usefulness (ditto), prime ministers will shuffle their cabinets.

They do it all the time, in the faint hope that it will make them more popular, or at least less unpopular. It’s a strategy that doesn’t work.

Can you picture the aforementioned Joe Frontporch at the kitchen table, hollering: “Jane, we’re going to vote Conservative again, because there’s a new minister of Veteran’s Affairs! Hallelujah!” Sounds crazy, no? That’s because it is.

2. Stephen Harper is the Control-Freak-in-Chief. Never in our history has there been a prime minister so preoccupied with micromanagement and centralization. Never has there been so little delegation as there has been under Harper, who makes Orwell’s Big Brother look like a dope-smoking slacker.

For Harper and his minions in the PMO, ministers are to be controlled, not given control. With the Control-Freak-in-Chief, who is in cabinet – and who isn’t really doesn’t matter.

3. L’etat, c’est lui. Harper isn’t just the head of the federal government, he IS the federal government. For the Conservatives, that’s been the good news: A smart, strategic leader ran the show, and helped them win power in 2006.

But, paradoxically, it’s the bad news, too. There are no viable successors waiting in the wings. And there is no minister strong enough to give cover to Harper when he stumbles, as he has indisputably in l’affaire Duffy. If you can name a dozen of his ministers and their portfolios off the top of your head, you deserve the Order of Canada.

4. A shuffle won’t change the fundamental problem. And Harper’s problem is well known and not even disputed by smart Conservatives: The governing party has lost its way. There’s no raison d’etre anymore.

There’s no mission statement. Nobody in the Conservative caucus remembers why he or she was sent to Ottawa in the first place.

A cabinet shuffle won’t change that problem, it’ll draw it into sharper focus. None of the many youngsters with “P.C.” appended to their surnames will feel powerful enough, or independent enough, to challenge the boss.

So get ready for same old, same old.

5. Nobody will notice. Forests will be felled to print opinion columns about the cosmic significance of the fashion sense of the newly minted minister of Public Safety. But Joe and Jane Frontporch won’t actually read any of those columns (which is one of the reasons broadsheet newspapers are in a spot of trouble, but that’s a lament for another day).


With tragedy striking Lac-Megantic and with flooding in Calgary and Toronto, does Official Ottawa actually believe a cabinet shuffle is even going to be noticed around the water coolers of the nation?

They do, they do. To them, shuffles are a big deal. To Mr. and Mrs. Frontporch, they aren’t. At all.

So, Canada, having trouble sleeping during the long, hot summer of 2013?

Watch some cabinet shuffle coverage. It’ll put you out like a light.


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    robin says:

    Harper’s cabinet shuffle will only replace old people with old ideas with young people with old ideas. Nothing will change except cosmetics.

    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Brian Busby says:

      Clearasil in place of Olay Total Effects.

  2. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    MCBellecourt says:

    If Pepe Le Pew gets a portfolio, it’ll make for good comedy.

  3. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    LD says:

    Nailed it.

  4. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    David_M says:

    the Harper government
    quite the branding
    good luck with that

  5. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Roger Clarke says:

    At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, which you do in such an idiosyncratic way [compliment], Warren, I will be sitting on my front porch and not bestirring myself to get up to vote in our next general election. As I don’t think my actions will be unique and indeed, even at this point, are even predictable, perhaps our illustrious PM should be considering falling on his sword right smartly like. Trouble is, who will pull it out…?

  6. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Glenna Miles says:

    Harperland is well in hand for Harper. He has used stealth to gain control of the heart of Canada. Time to put new lipstick on that ‘pig’ and sell it to people one more time. People who no longer recognise Canada will weep once more as the disengaged, disgusted, ill informed and socially irresponsible stay home. Committed Harperites will show up in droves as they anticipate another ‘win’ for the sake of ‘winning’. Splitting of the votes that are not committed to the ‘Harperland’ Express will assure he wins again. Time for a new system of government that makes people feel they are relevant and their vote counts.

    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Windsurfer says:

      So, please speculate on when proportional representation in some form or another, will be adopted by the Dominion of Canada:

      2015 __

      2017 __

      2025 __

      2060 __

      2103 __

      I feel I’m being an optimist. I cannot see any condition where a party in power would allow this. So what would it take?

      Enlightened despotism………… or divine intervention? Perhaps some kind of mass movement based on social engagement. Give us a formula.

      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        The Doctor says:

        If one party dominated for decades or something like that, there’d be more of a sustained push for PR. But just watch — when Justin Trudeau becomes PM in 2015, miraculously many of the people who have been pounding the table demanding PR will go strangely silent on the issue. Because they will be quite content with the government in power. Just as they were back when Jean Chretien was winning massive majorities with 38% of the popular vote.

  7. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Luke says:

    Not to mention that speculating about what shuffle might eventually possibly happen isn’t even news. It’s just pointless.

    Further, the commentariat has been going on each year about the amazing, profound Conservative cabinet shuffle that was supposed to happen, and…. nothing! Just minor changes that nobody really cared about. So why can’t they piss off just for one year, so I don’t have to see all these meaningless pontifications on the profundity of cabinet changes that haven’t even yet happened. Gimme a break…

  8. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ron Young says:

    Harper will likely refresh and rejuvenate his Cabinet with new young faces and even more women as his “election” team going towards October 2015.

    Now we wait for Trudeau to make good on his “generational change” promise to rebuild and revamp the stodgy Liberal party.

    Justin must give the boot to all the old veteran MPs with the title “Honourable” before their names which they inherited for their services during the Chretien-Martin era.

    About 20 old Liberal MPs must be put out to political pasture because Justin looks out of place amongst all those old dogs sitting around him in the HoCs during Question Period.

    Out with the old and in with the new!

    Justin… the ball is in your court now, and you better do something fast or else you will get blown away together with the remnants of the failed Liberal party parked in the HoCs and fattening up their gold-plated parliamentary pensions.

    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      JH says:


  9. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    davidray says:

    written monday afternoon after the shuffle. i think this is the perfect song to play as background to the inevitable photo-op:-)
    ps. i have no control over the stupid youtube ad but the song is worth it.


  10. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    jannx says:

    Mr Harper is a brilliant leader and just what Canada needs

    Problem is this is the 21st Century and there are records of everything he’s done … that’s the downside for the “Harper Government” …
    side note “pride (ie naming the government after oneself) comes before a fall”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.