Harper: Expect major cabinet shuffle, agenda change in "mid-term"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the tiniest of tweaks to his cabinet yesterday, moving Julian Fantino from his job as Associate Minister of Defence (procurement) to Minister of International Co-Operation, a job that came open with Bev Oda quit. Bernard Valcourt will move into Fantino’s old defence spot while holding on to his previous duties as minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Plenty of us here in the Ottawa press gallery thought Harper would do something much more radical to his cabinet. Today, in Calgary, Harper spoke to talk radio host Dave Rutherford about his cabinet shuffle and prorogation plans. (Transcript courtesy of the PMO)

DAVE RUTHERFORD: So there won’t be a… there’s been some rumour about, you know, proroguing everything, starting fresh. Are you going to do that, or are you just continue on with this session?
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Yeah, I thought, you know, to be honest, I thought about doing that, but some time ago I made a decision that I probably wouldn’t do it. I didn’t see any reason to do it right now. We’ve still got a number of pieces of legislation we do want to pass, and I think what I’m more likely to do, Dave, is probably in mid-term we’ll probably have a new session mid-term when we’ll make… you know, we’ll take a look at how everybody’s performing and make some major changes at that point, but I think between now and then, let’s keep everybody focused on the job we got elected to do, and the tasks I gave them to do last year.
DAVE RUTHERFORD: Ok, you’re talking about “they” and staying focused. I’m going to have to ask you about cabinet, because clearly you’ve had a change with Bev Oda resigning, not just cabinet, but as an MP, and replacing that minister with Fantino, who is accepting his full cabinet position in replacing her. It did not lead to a full cabinet shuffle. The pundits in Ottawa are just… they don’t know what to do today, because they were telling you what to do all this time, and you didn’t do it. You’ve not changed your cabinet. Are you going to?
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: No, we’ve said repeatedly, Dave, we have no plans of making big changes right now. Obviously when, as we had to do yesterday, we had to make a change, because of the resignation. When those things happen, we’ll do them, but as I say, I’m more likely to look at a big change around the mid-term of this government rather than a whole bunch of little changes in between.
DAVE RUTHERFORD: And so going forward, some of the ministers with which you’ve given great jobs, Peter MacKay and Vic Toews and Nicholson, the Minister of Justice, these guys are going to continue on and keep doing what they’re doing.
RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: I say we’re right in the middle of a whole lot of important initiatives that we launched right after the campaign, and I want to see our ministers focused on those things and carrying them through, you know, whether it’s re-equipping the military or completing our criminal justice public safety agenda, all those ministers have pretty busy workloads.

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