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Conservatives shuffle cabinet; Nicholson to foreign affairs, Kenney to defence

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson responds during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has picked Nicholson to fill the void left in his cabinet by John Baird's surprise departure last week.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
February 09, 2015 - 2:27 PM

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has picked Rob Nicholson to fill the void left in his cabinet by John Baird's surprise departure last week.

The swift shuffle sees Nicholson take over the foreign affairs portfolio and hand over his previous job at national defence to Jason Kenney.

Kenney's role as minister for employment and social development will go to Pierre Poilievre, an Ottawa-area MP who has held several smaller cabinet roles over the years.

Poilievre will also assume responsibility for the National Capital Commission, which was previously overseen by Baird who also represented an Ottawa riding.

"Our government is delivering real results for Canadians by growing the economy, making communities safer, and standing up for Canadian values at home and abroad," Harper said in a statement Monday morning.

"The changes to the ministry announced today will help ensure that key portfolios continue to have the strong leadership required to advance Canadian priorities."

Poilievre and Kenney will do double duty.

Poilievre hangs on to his previous responsibilities as minister responsible for democratic reform while Kenney will continue to be responsible for multiculturalism.

Baird announced last week he'd decided to end his two decades-plus of political life and move to the private sector, ripping a major hole in a cabinet Harper had put in place in 2013 to see his party through to the next election.

Baird's departure also came with several pressing foreign affairs items on the agenda, including the ongoing negotiations to released a jailed Canadian journalist in Egypt and hostilities between Russia and the Ukraine.

Nicholson is likely to have his first exposure to the latter issue later Monday, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Harper meet in Ottawa.

Three federal cabinet ministers were given new responsibilities Monday, Feb. 9, 2015 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the wake of former foreign affairs minister John Baird's abrupt resignation last week. From left: Jason Kenney, Rob Nicholson and Pierre Poilievre.
Three federal cabinet ministers were given new responsibilities Monday, Feb. 9, 2015 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the wake of former foreign affairs minister John Baird's abrupt resignation last week. From left: Jason Kenney, Rob Nicholson and Pierre Poilievre.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Files

Three federal cabinet ministers were given new responsibilities Monday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the wake of former foreign affairs minister John Baird's abrupt resignation last week.

Here's a look at who they are.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson

Shuffled from: Defence, where he had been minister since July 2013.

Political pedigree: Represents the Ontario riding of Niagara Falls. Sat as a Progressive Conservative MP from 1984 to 1988 and then was elected as a Conservative in 2004. He was in charge of the justice portfolio at the height of the Conservatives' overhaul of crime legislation.

Quote: "When people find themselves oppressed, attacked, when their freedom is threatened, when people are being murdered, Canada has a record second to none to stepping up and assisting people who find themselves in that situation. If you go back over Canadian history, you'll find that we were never in the business of conquering other lands or taking lands from people, or oppressing people. We've always stepped in to assist the people whose freedom was being threatened." — Foreign Affairs committee, Sept. 9th, 2014.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney

Shuffled from: Employment and Social Development, where he had been minister since 2013. Will continue as Minister of Multiculturalism as well.

Political pedigree: represents the Alberta riding of Calgary Southeast. Has been an MP since 1997. Chairs the cabinet committee on operations and is a member of the cabinet committees for foreign affairs and security, and planning and priorities.

Quote: "I cannot think of an organization in my lifetime, or perhaps all of modern history, that represents such brazen evil, such deprivation, and it cannot be overstated." — House of Commons on the motion to engage in air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, October 6, 2014.

Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre

Shuffled from: Was minister of state for democratic reform and will keep that responsibility along with his new job and also take on responsibility for the National Capital Commission.

Political pedigree: Has represented the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean-Carleton since 2004. When the Conservatives formed government, he helped John Baird usher through the Federal Accountability Act. Was parliamentary secretary to the prime minister during the controversy over irregularities in the party's campaign finances.

Quote: "Regardless of where people come from around the world, they can cherish this democratic institution that we inherited from the British parliamentary tradition. Our success is entirely founded on all of the attributes that this system brings. It brings responsible government, common law, limited government, and economic freedom, all of the basic pillars of a free society that have allowed countries throughout our civilization to enjoy so much prosperity and well-being. " — House of Commons, Dec. 3, 2014.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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