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 [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

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.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

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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