Broadcaster Chosen as new Environment Minister
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bolstered his cabinet presence from Toronto — where he hopes to make a breakthrough in the next election — by promoting Peter Kent to the environment portfolio and bringing Julian Fantino into the inner circle as a junior minister responsible for seniors.
But within minutes of the minor shuffle Tuesday which featured the two Toronto MPs and two others from Alberta, Harper denied he wants an election any time soon and is trying instead to govern with an emphasis on economic management.
"I don't think now is the time for big changes or for elections," Harper told a news conference.
But opposition parties said the shuffle is designed purely for the Conservatives' own political benefit, that Harper missed an opportunity to demote some of his cabinet's under-performers, and that Kent will do little more for the environment than recite the cautious script prepared for him by the Prime Minister's Office.
Kent, a former journalist and broadcaster for Global TV, represents the riding of Thornhill and is considered a strong communicator — a skill he will need to help sell the Conservative government's position on issues such as climate change.
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