Inside Politics

UPDATED - Del Mastro departure opens 3 possible parl sec slots

UPDATE: It seems that the PM is in the market for a new parliamentary secretary, thanks to the abrupt departure from caucus of now former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro. 

In fact, Del Mastro's exit could open up as many as three slots for ambitious backbenchers hankering for a boost to their profiles.  

Up until this afternoon, Del Mastro served as Commons backup for three separate ministers: Leona Aglukkaq (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Gary Goodyear (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario) and Greg Rickford (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario). 

In theory, that would allow the PM to promote three different MPs -- although two would have to be from Ontario. 

Of course, he could also simply redistribute those portfolios within the current roster, which would likely be the wisest choice, given the optics of adding another three names to the PS payroll. 

Meet your new parliamentary secretaries, Canada! (originally posted on September 19, 2013)

Earlier today, the prime minister unveiled the new roster of ministerial parliamentary secretaries

(For those who may have forgotten -- or possibly never bothered to find out in the first place, a parliamentary secretary is basically a  VIB (Very Important Backbencher) who, in exchange for a small salary boost and a new title, is responsible for various and sundry duties that his or her minister is either too busy or too important to do themselves, from fielding questions on behalf of their respective ministers in the House to shepherding legislation through committee -- and, with increasing frequency, doing the rounds on the evening and weekend political panel circuit, representing the government and delivering the official talking points.) 

UPDATE: It is, perhaps, worth noting that, with ascension to the storied ranks of parliamentary secretaryship come stricter ethics rules and disclosure requirements, as  parliamentary secretaries, unlike MPs, are subject to the Conflict of Interest Act. 

Among other things, that means no more support letters to the CRTC -- or any other federal tribunal -- on behalf of constituents or anyone else, as Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson made crystal clear when she chastised Eve Adams and Colin Carrie for doing just that earlier this year. 

Some highlights from today's reveal:

  • The total number of parliamentary secretaries  --  climbs from 28 to 32, which includes 12 new additions to replace the 8 former PSes who were promoted to cabinet during the mid-summer shuffle, 12 portfolio switches within the existing roster and 8 positions left unchanged.

  • Two of the newly minted are women, bringing the total to 6.

  • Finally, the Prime Minister now has not one but two parliamentary secretaries, as does Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

Here's how the list breaks down:


  • Dan Albas - Treasury Board
  • Scott Armstrong - Employment and Social Development
  • James Bezan - Defence
  • Kelly Block - Natural Resources
  • Peter Braid - Infrastructure and Communities
  • Parm Gill - Veterans Affairs
  • Roxanne James - Public Safety
  • Costas Menegakis - Citizenship and Immigration
  • Erin O'Toole - International Trade
  • Mark Strahl - Aboriginal Affairs
  • Bernard Trottier - Public Works
  • Jeff Watson - Transport


  • Eve Adams - Health (Was Veterans)
  • David Anderson - Foreign Affairs (Was Natural Resources and Canadian Wheat Board)
  • Paul Calandra - Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (Was Canadian Heritage)
  • Colin Carrie - Environment (Was Health)
  • Dean Del Mastro - Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (Was Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs)
  • Bob Dechert - Justice (Was Foreign Affairs)
  • Rick Dykstra - Canadian Heritage (Was Citizenship and Immigration)
  • Jacques Gourde - Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, for Official Languages and for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec ) (Was Public Works; Official Languages and EDAC Quebec unchanged)
  • Randy Kamp - Fisheries (Had been responsible for the Asia Pacific Gateway as well)
  • Gerald Keddy - National Revenue and ACOA (Was International Trade, ACOA and Atlantic Gateway)
  • Cathy McLeod - Labour and Western Economic Diversification (Was National Revenue)
  • Andrew Saxton - Finance (Was Treasury Board and Western Economic Diversification)


  • Lois Brown - International Cooperation
  • Robert Goguen - Justice
  • Mike Lake - Industry
  • Pierre Lemieux - Agriculture
  • Chungsen Leung - Multiculturalism
  • Tom Lukiwski - Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Deepak Obhrai - Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights (Note: International Human Rights is new)
  • Susan Truppe - Status of Women

UPDATE: According to a just-in news release from Obhrai's office, he has also been appointed to the Privy Council "in recognition of his many years of public service as an MP and in promoting the government's foreign affairs agenda internationally," according to a quote attributed to the PM. 

In fact, Harper was apparently in attendance at the swearing-in -- again, according to the release from Obhrai's office --  as was Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. 

Obhrai also shared the news on twitter:

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