Was shuffle good idea?

This week, the prime minister shuffled his cabinet.

Although media often portray cabinet shuffles as a type of crisis-level event, there are many reasons why a shuffle occurs and, in this case, I believe the Liberals are refocusing in several key areas.

Most important is the decision to divide the current ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs into two new and separate departments.
One of the new departments will be Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, headed up by Minister Carolyn Bennett and the other will be the Department of Indigenous Services with former Health Minister Jane Philpott in charge.
What will these two new departments do?

In essence, one will focus entirely on the relationship between government and Aboriginal leadership, while the other will focus on delivery of services to First Nations communities.
The Liberal government said the former ministry had become too large, delivered far too many services with an equally large mandate to be truly effective. The Liberals believe that having two ministries with different mandates will be a more effective solution.
My thoughts?

I believe few would suggest that the status quo was not in need of improvement. However, there are also concerns with this particular decision.
One aspect of governance that I have come across that applies at all levels, is that joint accountability can often lead to no accountability.

In this case, there will be a strong requirement for these two ministries to work together while avoiding overlaps and missing gaps, all at the same time.
Another concern is creating another department with yet another minister adds even more bureaucracy to a system that is already considered by many to be administratively overburdened.  

The time line for First Nation communities needing decisions or approvals from Ottawa on important projects, delays and hurdles can be significant. Adding another department and minister to the fold is unlikely to help the process. 

What would have been an alternative?
This Liberal government has had one minister for the ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Perhaps a shuffle with a new and different minister may have been a prudent course of action before engaging in the costly split and creation of an entirely new department.
As an example of this, it is not a secret that the former Conservative government had some struggles with the department of Veterans Affairs.

Fortunately, a shuffle and the introduction of a new face with extensive experience, Minister Erin O’Toole, made a significant positive change of direction in getting the department back on track.

Ironically, Prime Minister Trudeau also just shuffled a new minister of Veteran Affairs into this portfolio for similar reasons as Seamus O’Regan takes over from Kent Hehr.
Ultimately, how a minister runs a department from my experience can make a significant difference.

My question this week:  

  • Do you support the splitting of the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs into two different ministries or should there have first been a change in minister?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

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About the Author

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola which include the communities of Kelowna (specific boundaries), West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton and Merritt.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best. For his work on child safety and awareness, Dan was the recipient Penticton’s ‘2005 Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ award. Dan served as campaign chair for the United Way of the South Okanagan-Similkameen in 2006-7 and 2010-11, both times surpassing their fundraising goals.

On June 28 of 2012 Dan became one of the first MP’s in recent history to have a Private Members Bill (Bill 311) C-311 become law with the unanimous all party support of both the House of Commons and the Canadian Senate.  Bill C-311 “An Act to amend the importation of intoxicating liquors Act” amended a prohibition era law to prevented the free trade of wine over provincial borders.

Dan’s parliamentary record includes being recognized by the Ottawa Citizen in 2015 as one of only five Members of Parliament in Canada with a 100% voting attendance record.  Locally in British Columbia,  MP Dan Albas has been consistently one of the lowest spending Members of Parliament on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

 MP Dan Albas is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top ten most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

In October of 2015 MP Dan Albas was re-elected to Parliament representing the new riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola.  Dan is currently the Deputy Finance Critic, serving with Finance Critic, MP Gerard Deltell and sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.

Dan is honoured to serve the residents of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola as their Member of Parliament.

MP Dan Albas welcomes your input, so please contact him by e-mail, phone or mail.

He can be reached at:

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola's MP office
2562-B Main Street
West Kelowna, B.C. V4T 2N5
Email: dan.albas@parl.gc.ca
Phone toll free: 1.800.665.8711
Fax: 250.707.2153

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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