The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada. This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.
|Prime Minister Harper shuffles cabinet
|Last week, Prime Minster Stephen Harper announced his government’s largest ever cabinet shuffle. The shuffle comes after the prime minister spent time with his ministers to determine if they intend to run in the next federal election set for October 2015; overall, three ministers were let go from cabinet, in addition to five who voluntarily stepped down over the course of the last two weeks. The shuffle also set a record for the number of women in cabinet, bringing the total to twelve, or 30 per cent of the cabinet’s overall composition.
Given the Harper government’s overarching focus on Canada’s economy, key political and policy appointments at Finance (Jim Flaherty), International Trade (Ed Fast), Treasury Board (Tony Clement) and Natural Resources (Joe Oliver), remain unchanged. The prime minister, however, made notable changes by appointing James Moore to Industry (Moore will also remain as B.C.’s political minister), Lisa Raitt to Transport, and Jason Kenney to Employment and Social Development. Denis Lebel remains Minister of Infrastructure.
Other significant cabinet moves include:
- Peter MacKay – Minister of Justice;
- Rob Nicholson – Minister of National Defense;
- Rona Ambrose – Minister of Health;
- Leona Aglukkaq – Minister of Environment;
- Julian Fantino – Minister of Veterans Affairs;
- John Duncan – Government Whip;
- Diane Finley – Minister of PWGSC;
- Gail Shea – Minister of Fisheries and Oceans;
- Steven Blaney – Minister of Public Safety; and,
- Christian Paradis – Minister of International Development.
Prime Minister Harper’s full cabinet can be found here.
|Cummins to step down as BC Conservative leader
Last week, John Cummins officially stepped down as leader of the BC Conservative Party. This decision comes in part as a result of the May 2013 provincial election, when the party failed to secure a win in any electoral district and garnered less than five per cent of the popular vote.
An annual general meeting is set for September 2013, and the party’s board is scheduled to meet next week to finalize plans for a leadership race and convention.
|Smart Meter options announced
|Last week, Bill Bennett, minister of energy and mines, announced that BC Hydro will offer new options for customers who have put their smart meters on hold.
The government will provide opt-out options with the costs borne by those customers and not subsidized by those who have a standard BC Hydro smart meter. BC Hydro customers who do not currently have a smart meter will now have three choices:
- to choose the standard smart meter at no cost;
- to accept a digital meter with the radio off, an option that will be subject to a one-time cost to modify the meter plus a monthly fee to read the meter; or
- to keep the old analog meter, which will be subject to a monthly fee that will include both the extra cost of reading the meter and the cost of instituting duplicate systems.
Costs and fees associated with the options will be established by BC Hydro but will be reviewed by the BC Utilities Commission to ensure that BC Hydro is only recovering the cost of providing and servicing the radio-off and analog options.