Paradis takes over Blackburn’s ag duties, industry file

Wednesday’s post-election shuffle of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet keeps Gerry Ritz in the agriculture minister’s chair and brings back one of the portfolio’s previous backup players to assist.

Quebec MP Christian Paradis, who was minister of natural resources before the May 2 election, was shuffled Wednesday to become minister of industry as well as minister of state for agriculture, replacing fellow Quebec MP Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

Blackburn lost his seat May 2 in the NDP’s sweep of Quebec, which won the New Democrats their first-ever status as Her Majesty’s Official Opposition.

Paradis, a Thetford Mines lawyer representing the south-central riding of Megantic-L’Erable since 2006, served through 2007 and most of 2008 in the junior role of secretary of state for agriculture.

He also previously served as minister of public works and government services before being shuffled to natural resources in January last year.

Paradis was also named Wednesday to the cabinet committee on priorities and planning which, among other duties, helps direct expenditure management and approves various government appointments. He was also named to the federal treasury board subcommittee on the government’s strategic and operating review.

Ritz, a businessman and farmer and the MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster since 1997, remains as both minister of agriculture and agri-food and minister for the Canadian Wheat Board. He was named Wednesday to the cabinet committee on operations and the cabinet committee on economic prosperity and sustainable growth.

Shuffled

Cabinet appointments of interest to farmers and the ag industry will also include that of Ottawa MP John Baird. Harper shuffled him Wednesday from his post as government House leader to replace another defeated Quebec MP, Lawrence Cannon, as minister of foreign affairs.

In another portfolio of note for export-minded producers, Abbotsford, B.C. MP Ed Fast was tapped to replace Peter Van Loan as minister of international trade. Van Loan, a southern Ontario MP, replaces Baird as government House leader.

As minister of transport, overseeing the rail sector, Harper named Quebec MP Denis Lebel to replace former ag minister and B.C. MP Chuck Strahl, who didn’t seek re-election.

Other farmers and former farmers coming back to Harper’s cabinet return to the same junior roles they held before the election. They include:

  • Calgary MP Diane Ablonczy, as minister of state for foreign affairs (Americas and consular affairs);
  • Saskatoon-area MP Lynne Yelich, as minister of state for western economic diversification; and
  • southwestern Alberta MP Ted Menzies, as minister of state for finance.

Membership of the House of Commons’ standing committee on agriculture and agri-food won’t be named until sometime after the House of Commons reopens on June 2.

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