Your new shadow cabinet

Nathan Cullen moves to finance

The NDP has announced a small shuffle of the shadow cabinet—some business that was made necessary when Olivia Chow, formerly the transport critic, left to pursue the Toronto mayoralty. Peter Julian goes from natural resources to House leader, Chris Charlton goes from industry to natural resources, Peggy Nash goes from finance to industry, Nathan Cullen goes from House leader to finance and Hoang Mai becomes the transport critic, having previously been the associate critic for transport.

I’m generally not sure how much the “team” matters as a motivator of votes, though I suppose, insofar as the NDP has never formed government, voters might be interested to see what sort of people they might be putting into power. You at least don’t want to be scaring or offending anyone with the people you surround yourself with, I suppose.

Of today’s moves, most interesting might be Mr. Cullen’s move to finance—arguably the most prominent file and probably still the file where the New Democrats most need to prove their reasonableness. Mr. Cullen came to the fore as the interesting underdog in the party’s leadership race and then took on new prominence as the House leader for an opposition that was happy for the fight. So far as QP is concerned, he’s not quite a master of the form, but he’s a willing combatant (there was that one time, presumably with the assistance of the NDP research bureau, that he got the better of Peter MacKay) and now the NDP can set him against Joe Oliver and we will get to see how well Mr. Cullen can handle policy. Mr. Cullen also apparently holds some value for the party beyond the House. “He’s a good campaigner and outreach guy,” an official in the opposition leader’s office says. “We needed to free him from the House.”

Actually, a debate between Joe Oliver, Nathan Cullen and Liberal finance critic Scott Brison could be highly entertaining (and also possibly somewhat informative).

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