UPDATE: Reports suggest Joe Oliver, the Natural Resources Minister, will replace Flaherty.
Jim Flaherty’s surprise resignation as Finance Minister leaves Stephen Harper with an undeniable quandary. Since the Prime Minister took power in 2006, Flaherty has been the sole constant in an ever-shifting cabinet, tabling 10 budgets over nine years. As the Conservatives prepare to run for re-election in 2015 on their fiscal record, Harper is now without the minister most closely associated with their successful stewardship of the economy. His choice for the next finance minister will be crucial. Here, a quick-and-dirty look at the likely contenders:
Current Portfolio: Industry
Why he’ll get it: Still under the age of 40, the MP from British Columbia is a trusted lieutenant to the Prime Minister. He oversaw a recent the wireless spectrum auction, which promises to achieve the government’s goal of more competition in the sector, thanks to a successful bid by Videotron outside their home market of Quebec. Meanwhile, he served as Harper’s principle combatant in the government’s ongoing war with the existing telecom providers. He has managerial competence and makes a valiant effort to maintain his credibility while pushing the partisan message.
Current Portfolio: President of the Treasury Board
Why he’ll get it: Much like Flaherty, Clement is a veteran politician with a track record of managing complex portfolios. As Treasury Board president, he’s been charged with reducing costs within the public service, reducing red tape and finding other ways to make the government itself more efficient.
Current Portfolio: Minister of Health
Why she’ll get it: Ambrose has held a series of increasingly high-profile roles in Harper’s government. She earned plaudits for her handling of the national shipbuilding strategy as public works minister.
Current Portfolio: Minister of Transport
Why she’ll get it: During her tenure as Minister of Labour, Raitt championed the government’s “the economy above all” message as she intervened in strikes at Canada Post, Air Canada and Canadian Pacific. In her tenure as transport minister, she’s been charged with the sensitive rail safety file in the wake of the Lac Megantic disaster.
Current Portfolio: Minister of state for small business and tourism
Why he’ll get it: Before suffering a fall from grace, Bernier was a champion of free enterprise during his tenure as Minister of Industry. He still maintains a loyal following among some of the party’s fiscal hawks. His appointment would signal a return to the party’s Conservative ideals.
Image Credits, from top: Kashmera (Creative Commons); Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star/Getty; Jim Wilkes/Toronto Star/Getty; Getty Images; AFP