Harper to announce small cabinet shuffle today; no major changes expected

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to announce a small cabinet shuffle Tuesday with no changes to major portfolios.
Sources said heavyweights such as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Defence Minister Peter MacKay will keep their jobs. MacKay is to stay despite relentless opposition attacks on his credibility for the way he handled the Afghan detainees issue.
Harper is expected to argue that the shuffle is meant to better position the government to handle the second phase of the government's economic recovery plan.
Treasury Board president Vic Toews, who is also the senior Manitoba minister, did not completely deny rumours that he is changing jobs. And speculation abounds that controversy-prone Lisa Raitt will be demoted from the natural resources portfolio.
Other rumours have the prime minister rearranging the ministers who hold regional development roles.
The shuffle follows the resignation of Greg Thompson as veterans affairs minister. Fredericton MP Keith Ashfield is widely rumoured to be in line for a promotion now that Thompson is no longer the lead New Brunswick minister. Ashfield is currently the junior minister for economic development in the Atlantic region.
Insiders say the shuffle is part of the government's broader plan to "recalibrate" now that the panic phase of the global financial crisis is over, and recovery has shown some tentative signs of taking hold.
The Conservatives want to turn their policy focus away from spending and stimulating the economy to eliminating the deficit and positioning the country for a strong recovery.
It's the same justification they gave for proroguing Parliament, suspending activity until a Throne Speech and budget in the first week of March.

Organizations: Conservatives

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Manitoba, New Brunswick Atlantic

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