Prime Minister Stephen Harper shuffled his cabinet for the second time since taking office, as he tries to breathe new life into a minority government struggling to increase its popularity.
Harper made changes in eight ministries, mostly by rearranging his existing cabinet. Changes include Industry Minister Maxime Bernier leaving for foreign affairs. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty kept his portfolio.
Harper's having trouble broadening his Conservative Party's appeal beyond a rural, Western base of core supporters, in part because other voters think he's spent more time preparing for elections than dealing with issues they care about, analysts say. The government has been in power 18 months, the average lifespan for Canadian minority governments.
``Harper got himself off track when they allowed the political radar screen to get clogged with talk of imminent elections,'' said Rick Anderson, campaign director for Preston Manning when he was Canada's opposition leader between 1997 and 2000. ``He needs to get the focus off politics and on policy.''
Other changes today include Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, criticized for his handling of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan, leaving his post to become the new revenue minister. Peter MacKay leaves foreign affairs to replace O'Connor. Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice will replace Bernier at industry. Source...