Shuffleu(ff)(p)agus v2.0 – Sources say the darnedest (and most contradictory) things.

Good morning, speculators! With just over two hours to go until the show gets underway at Rideau Hall,  a few pundits have broken away from the pack to predict that Jim Prentice’s lock on Industry may not be unbreakable after all.

In its latest offering of shufflecentric conjecture, CTV News claims he’s heading to Environment, with Tony Clement tapped to take his place. That would free up John Baird to move to Transport – which seems to be a near universal prediction at this point – but it’s not clear who will get Health, although way down near the end, it appears it could go to Ablonczy.

International Trade, meanwhile, would be handed off to  – in reverse order of wild unlikelihood as far as ITQ is concerned: Peter Van Loan, Rob Nicholson or Stockwell Day. That’s in stark contrast to what was being claimed last night, and is still an article of faith elsewhere in the speculatosphere, which is that Day, like MacKay, Prentice and Flaherty, will stay exactly where he is. Moving Nicholson would be potentially problematic, given the government’s intention of making the reintroduced justice package its major legislative initiative of an abbreviated fall session – although come to think of it, that might make the perfect landing spot for ousted House Leader Peter Van Loan, since he’s had considerable practice excoriating the opposition parties for alleged crime softiness.

Other CTV last minute picks: Gail Shea gets Fisheries, but not ACOA; Gerry Ritz and Helena Geurgis get “demoted” – in the latter case, it’s not clear how much less responsibility she could have and still be in cabinet.

Meanwhile, in the Globe and Mail’s sextuple-bylined witching hour update, Jean Pierre Blackburn was reportedly “packing his boxes” at Labour last night, and is rumoured to be taking over for Gordon O’Connor at Revenue; Peter MacKay keeps Defence, ACOA and adds Newfoundland; the name of New Brunswicker Rodney Weston surfaces for the first time as a possible ministerial contender, although presumably that would be in addition, and not instead of Greg Thompson, who is expected to hold onto Veterans Affair. 

The news team has apparently also bought into the latest iteration of the Prentice-as-Everyminister meme to sweep the capital, but has him going to International Trade instead of Environment, which seems somewhat unlikely, since it would be hard to spin that as anything other than a demotion. The Toronto Star, meanwhile, maintains that Prentice, like Flaherty, is staying exactly where he is, as does CanWest, although with the caveat that he may move to Transport. On a related note, CanWest is, as yet, the only outlet touting Tony Clement for International Trade.

That’s it for now – ITQ will, of course, be heading to Rideau Hall for the pre-shuffle show on the red carpet. Check back for obsessive updates throughout the morning, or at least until my thumbs are frozen solid, starting at around 10. 

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.