This new era of smaller government

Unnoticed in Mr. Harper’s shuffling of cabinet earlier this month was this: by leaving the title of minister of state for status of women with Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, the Prime Minister has opted to go with a more streamlined cabinet and ministry. Previously, when Helena Guergis held the title of minister of state for status of women, both the ministry and the cabinet numbered 38 (one short, in both cases, of the all-time highs). With Ms. Ambrose holding two titles, the cabinet and ministry number a more svelte 37, a decrease of 2.6%.

While some of his predecessors have made a distinction between the ministry and the cabinet, Mr.Harper has treated them as the same. The current cabinet includes 25 ministers (at an additional $75,516 in salary each) and 10 ministers of state (at an additional $56,637 in salary each). With Greg Rickford’s recent promotion, there are also 27 parliamentary secretaries (at an additional $15,200 in salary each).

The Liberal shadow cabinet somehow numbers 42, but only the opposition house leader ($37,500) and whip ($27,200) draw bonuses. The rest do it merely for the acclaim.

When the Liberals and NDP signed a coalition accord in December 2008, they agreed to a 25-member cabinet: the prime minister plus eighteen Liberals and six New Democrats.

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