Thursday, January 04, 2007

Harper to Vic: Here's a class A kick in the nuts


That's the only possible conclusion of anyone who has a smidgen of a brain about today's federal cabinet shuffle in regards to Manitoba's favourite mustachioed MP (who's frequently mistaken for Jack Layton and the Video Professor) Vic Toews.

How else do you explain the demotion from Justice minister -- guardian of one of the Tories' five sacred priorities (the Law and Order Agenda) -- to chief accountant?

Don't believe us? Well, Manitoba's correspondents may not think so, but let's take a look a little further afield. Here's early analysis from Macleans:

And so, for this term of government at least, Toews will be judged mostly on a stint at justice that was long on rhetoric, but short on actual accomplishments.

In fact, Toews managed to steer only two minor pieces of legislation through the House of Commons before getting the hook. The first, a ban on street-racing, was supported by all three opposition parties; the other, which restricts sentences of house arrest to non-violent criminals, passed only after it was significantly altered by the opposition.

Otherwise, Toews' legislative forays have been failures ranging from the minor to the abject.

Double yowch!

Of course, in the past with Reg Alcock, TB minister has been viewed as a coup. But in the Harper world, Treasury Board is no longer an empire that doles out goodies, but a 'time out' corner with a rubber stamp for the approval orders coming from the tall foreheads in the PMO.

Toews worst crimes seem to be his unflinching attempts to influence the Conservative mandate along a socially conservative agenda, a la Reform.

Again from the Maclean's piece:

Toews' apparent Plan B revolved around a "Defense of Religions Act" that would allow public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages; his legislation would also have enshrined the right of religious leaders to criticize homosexuality and refuse to do business with gay rights groups.

Clearly, Harper is now totally uninterested in the "let's tell Canadians how to live their lives" agenda of the so cons in the Conservative caucus. Being associated with this agenda is a rap that killed Harper in the past, but also a difficult one to manage as it is one so close to the hearts of much of his politcal base in the West.

Overall, though, it may benefit Manitoba to have Toews in the TB spot, if he is able to deliver (and that might be a big if, depending on his ability to sway the boss on Manitoba priorities).

But to view it anything BUT a demotion for one who had been such a star -- especially without any advance media warning of the move -- would be naive in the extreme.