Halton MPs named to Conservative Shadow Cabinet

The newly minted leader of Canada’s Conservative Party, Andrew Scheer, unveiled his shadow cabinet this week, as revealed in a statement from Facebook (see below). What is noticeable is that Scheer has given some important roles to two prominent Conservative MPs from Halton Region.

Back in July Scheer appointed Milton MP Lisa Raitt as his Deputy Leader, and this week announced former fellow leadership candidate Michael Chong (who is the MP for Wellington-Halton Hills) as the “Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Communities, and Urban Affairs”. Other Greater Toronto region MPs who received prominent roles include former Environment Minister Peter Kent (from Thornhill) as Shadow Minister for Ethics; Markham MP Bob Saroya as Associate Critic for Immigration; and Durham MP John O’Toole (another former leadership contender) as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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The appointments of Raitt and Chong to rather prominent roles is indicative of Scheer’s recognition for his party to reach out to the urban population centres of Canada, in fast growing places like Milton and Halton Region, if he hopes to bring the Conservatives back into power in 2019. Raitt was one of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s more competent ministers, and one of the few GTA Tories to survive the 2015 election. While Scheer’s predecessor, Rona Ambrose, demonstrated a female leader didn’t have to leverage her gender to show that she could successfully lead a political party, it doesn’t hurt to have a female as your deputy when you’re sitting across a self-described “feminist” Prime Minister in Justin Trudeau.

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As for Michael Chong, he represents a more progressive wing of the party (during the leadership campaign he supported a carbon tax and voted in favour of Motion 103 in Parliament condemning Islamophobia). As one of the few remaining Conservative MPs to represent the GTA along with Raitt, Chong’s role as Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs would give the file on issues pertinent to Canadians in the rapidly urbanizing regions of the country…as well as the more progressive leaning.

Chong was seen clearly as a threat to the Liberals should he have become the Conservative leader, and while Scheer is more of the traditional conservative and wants to keep the party in that direction, keeping Chong in the fold at least recognizes the need to broaden the tent of the Conservative Party to win back urban ridings in Mississauga, Brampton, Halton Region and the rest of the GTA.

We will see how the narrative of the issues surrounding municipalities and urban areas is shaped as Parliament resumes this fall.

For now, at least Scheer has surrounded himself with competent, capable people from Halton.

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