Economy ‘job number one’ of Canada’s new government

October 31st, 2008 - 9:25 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Oct 31 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party was returned to power in the Oct 14 elections, Thursday appointed a new cabinet, entrusting economy-related portfolios to veterans amid global economic turmoil.Harper, who sought an early mandate from Canadians because of his minority government, will have a 38-member cabinet against 31 ministers last time. The number of women ministers has also gone up from seven to 11.

Lawrence Cannon, transport minister in the outgoing cabinet, will be Canada’s new foreign affairs minister. Peter MacKay, who had contested against the prime minister for the leadership of the Conservative Party, will retain the defence portfolio.

Jim Flaherty will stay as finance minister as the prime minister said the economy was his “job number one” in the second term.

“While the fundamentals of Canada’s economy remain stronger, more stable and more durable than those of many other nations, it is clear that we are not immune to what happens outside our borders,” the prime minister said after his new team was sworn in by Governor General Michaelle Jean in Ottawa.

“That is why the central responsibility of our new mandate will be to ensure that Canada’s businesses and families have the security they need to weather any global economic storm,” he said. As part of his government’s strong economic focus, the prime minister said the key economic portfolios would remain in the hands of cabinet veterans, led by finance minister Jim Flaherty.

“This will be an experienced, economically focused ministry that is prepared to immediately get to work in the interests of Canadians,” said Harper.

“This is the right team for these times. We will build a foundation of strength that will protect the earnings, savings and financial security of Canadians and ensure that Canada emerges from this time of global turmoil stronger than ever before,” the Canadian prime minister added.

Five-time Indo-Canadian MP and parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai, who was expected to be elevated this time, doesn’t figure in the new cabinet.

He didn’t respond to calls from IANS for his reaction to his omission.

In the 308-member House of Commons, the ruling Conservative party still misses the simple majority mark of 155 by 12 seats.

There are a record nine Indo-Canadian MPs in the new House - four from the ruling party and five from the opposition Liberal Party.

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