A scouting report on Team Mulcair

Here again is the roster for Thomas Mulcair’s shadow cabinet. What to make of it? Here are several observations.

-First, the obviously big promotions go to Megan Leslie (who stays with environment, but becomes a deputy leader) and Nathan Cullen (who becomes House leader). Both are confident, impressive, fresh-faced MPs who are quick on their feet and under the age of 40 (Mr. Cullen’s 40th birthday is in July). Very interesting to see them put not just in prominent positions, but positions of leadership. Your premature, baseless, futile, wild-eyed “next leader of the NDP” speculation probably starts somewhere here.

-That’s a rather large number of people with titles: 78 out of a caucus of 102. Granted, the Conservative cabinet numbers 39 and the Prime Minister named another 28 parliamentary secretaries, so the sides are somewhat close to even. Put the two teams together and they represent just less than half of the House.

-The shadow ministers of finance, justice, human resources, transport, aboriginal affairs, public works, industry, immigration and the environment—nine of the top files—are women.

-All of the elected leadership candidates—Niki Ashton, Paul Dewar, Mr. Cullen, Robert Chisholm, Romeo Saganash and Peggy Nash—were placed in prominent spots. Of the 13 NDP MPs who endorsed Brian Topp, 10 of them—Charmaine Borg, Jean Crowder, Libby Davies, Chris Charlton, Yvon Godin, Francoise Boivin, Jinny Simms, Jasbir Sandhu, Kennedy Stewart and Alexandre Boulerice—were put in critic roles.

-Peter Julian seemed to step to the fore in the wake of Mr. Mulcair’s election. The day after the budget, Mr. Julian was given five consecutive questions in QP (off the top of my head, I’m not sure that in my five years here I’ve seen anyone but an opposition leader, rising at the start of QP, afforded that many opportunities in a row). And, of course, he then dominated the budget debate. In this new shadow cabinet he moves from finance to natural resources. Which probably says something about both the prominence that file is going to take on and how much more we’ll be hearing from Mr. Julian.

-If finance is the top issue, Ms. Nash will be continue to be among the most prominent NDP MPs (she was also finance critic under Jack Layton). And presumably that means she’ll be near the forefront as the NDP tries to make an economic case for itself going forward.

-Ruth Ellen Brosseau becomes deputy critic for agriculture. Another step on the way to her becoming prime minister.

-Matthew Kellway and Christine Moore have their mandate to pester Julian Fantino renewed. Jack Harris returns to defence with the minister struggling. For at least as long as the F-35 is a matter of concern, that trio figures to be prominent.

-The English-French team of Charlie Angus and Alexandre Boulerice on ethics is also maintained.

-Two of the McGill four—Ms. Borg and Matthew Dube—land shadow cabinet spots. A third, Laurin Liu, gets a deputy post.

-And it somehow makes sense that Pat Martin is assigned the task of raging against the dying of the Canadian Wheat Board’s light.

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