Stephen Harper was sworn in today as Canada's new PM. You remember Stephen, don't you? The guy who ran on a platform of accountability. The guy who--like all aspirants challenging a party that has been in power a while--made the most of the issues of government corruption and cronyism (as Cretien did so well in demolishing Mulroony's Conservatives in the 1988 campaign).
So what is the first thing he does as Canada's new head honcho? He appoints Michael Fortier Minister of Public Works, a portfolio that controls billions of dollars of Canadian taxpayers' dollars. Who is Michael Fortier, you ask? Why none other than Harper's co-chair in Quebec during his campaign to become Conservative party leader. What riding does he represent? Well, that's where Mr. Harper has some explaining to do. You see, Fortier didn't run in the last election. Our illustrious leader had to appoint him to the Senate so he could take on the porfolio. Isn't that the same Stephen Harper who said he'd never make a Senate appointment for purely political reasons?
But wait, there's more. Harper also appointed David Emerson as Minister of International Trade. At first glance, it looks like a great choice because Emerson is one of the few people in Harper's new cabinet who has any previous cabinet experience. But there's one small problem with this picture. Emerson's experience came as Minister of Industry in Paul Martin's cabinet, and last time I checked, Paul Martin was a Liberal PM. How is this possible, you ask? Simple. Emerson pulled a Stronach (in other words, he crossed the floor, defected, changed sides, turned traitor--you get the picture). Seems to me I remember a whole bunch of Conservatives making a whole lot of political hay (not to mention tasteless insults) when Belinda Stronach crossed the floor to join Martin's cabinet.
So, we have a public works minister wielding boatloads of our cash but who doesn't have to answer for it in the house because he's not elected, and we have an international trade minister who, after winning his seat as a Liberal in the last election and saying he would be a thorn in Harper's side, is now at Harper's side, but not exactly as a thorn. So much for making government more accountable and frowning on opportunism (or was that what they meant by "Standing up for Opportunity").
Throw in the fact that only six of the 27-member the cabinet are women (22 whole percent), and you have a fine first day as PM. Nice start Mr. Harper. Where do we go from here?