The resignation of Maxime Bernier  as foreign affairs minister in May 2008 left Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a couple of holes in his cabinet. He filled them with a minor shuffle a month later, on June 25.

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David Emerson speaks on Parliament Hill in April 2008. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

First, he needed a steady hand to run the foreign affairs portfolio. Into that void stepped David Emerson, who moved over from international trade.

Emerson, who is already in the job in an interim basis, is probably best known for switching allegiances to the Conservative government after being elected as a Liberal in the previous election. A former industry minister in Paul Martin's Liberal government, he held the international trade post since February 2006.

He's regarded as a reliable, experienced minister and a safe choice after the Bernier affair, in which the minister resigned after admitting he'd left classified documents at the home of a former girlfriend who had past links to criminal biker gangs.

Bernier's resignation also removed a high-profile Quebec representative from the cabinet table. Before the shuffle, insiders in Ottawa said that Harper likely wanted to ensure another Quebecer was promoted to help boost support in the province.

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Christian Paradis arrives with his family to be sworn in as secretary of state for agriculture in January 2007. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

Christian Paradis, who stepped into the public works portfolio, helps to fill that gap. The secretary of state for agriculture, Paradis represents the southeastern Quebec riding of Mégantic-L'Érable on the U.S. border.

The 34-year-old was first elected to the House in January 2006, one of 10 new Conservative MPs from Quebec. In Harper's first cabinet, Paradis took on the post of parliamentary secretary to the natural resources minister, later moving to the agriculture post in January 2007.

Paradis is a trained lawyer who practised law in Thetford Mines, Que., before entering politics. He is married with three children: Charles, Gilbert and Sophie.

He will keep his agriculture post in the new cabinet.

Harper last shuffled his cabinet in August 2007, when he moved Bernier to Foreign Affairs from Industry.

Other Conservatives on the move in this shuffle include:

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Michael Fortier. (Canadian Press)

Michael Fortier, who moves from Public Works to International Trade, is a long-time Harper loyalist. He served as the Conservative campaign co-chair for the past two federal elections and co-chair of Harper's own leadership campaign. Fortier created a stir in February 2006 when he was appointed to the Senate and joined the cabinet without winning election as an MP. Fortier had a lengthy career in business and law but has also been active in politics, unsuccessfully running for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in 1998.

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James Moore. (CP)

James Moore joins cabinet as the secretary of state for official languages, the Asia-Pacific gateway and the Vancouver Olympics. At 24, he became the youngest member of Parliament ever elected in British Columbia, winning the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam as a Reform MP in 2000.

Re-elected in 2004 and 2006, he was parliamentary secretary to both the public works minister and the minister responsible for the Pacific gateway and Vancouver Olympics in Harper's government. He's regarded as a solid MP and a rising star in caucus.

Around the table

Here is the current cabinet, changes in bold:

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
  • Robert Nicholson, justice; attorney general.
  • David Emerson, foreign affairs.
  • Jean-Pierre Blackburn, labour; minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec.
  • Greg Thompson, veterans affairs.
  • Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate; secretary of state for seniors.
  • Monte Solberg, human resources and social development.
  • Gerry Ritz, agriculture and agri-food; minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.
  • Gary Lunn, natural resources.
  • Loyola Hearn, fisheries and oceans.
  • Michael Fortier, international trade.
  • Stockwell Day, public safety.
  • Gordon O'Connor, national revenue.
  • Vic Toews, Treasury Board.
  • Rona Ambrose, intergovernmental affairs; western economic diversification; president of the Privy Council.
  • Diane Finley, citizenship and immigration.
  • Peter MacKay, national defence; minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
  • Josée Verner, Canadian heritage and status of women; official languages.
  • Chuck Strahl, Indian affairs and northern development; federal interlocutor for Métis and non-status Indians.
  • Christian Paradis, public works and government services; secretary of state for agriculture.
  • John Baird, environment.
  • Jim Prentice, industry.
  • Lawrence Cannon, transport, infrastructure and communities.
  • Tony Clement, health; minister for the federal economic development initiative for northern Ontario.
  • Jim Flaherty, finance.
  • Bev Oda, international co-operation.
  • Peter Van Loan, government House leader; democratic reform.
  • Jay Hill, government whip and secretary of state.
  • Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.
  • Diane Ablonczy, secretary of state for small business and tourism.
  • Helena Guergis, secretary of state for foreign affairs and international trade; secretary of state for sport.
  • James Moore, secretary of state for official languages, the Asia-Pacific gateway and the Vancouver Olympics.