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<Yahoo News Canada>

Canadian PM to Make Major Government Changes
By David Ljunggren

Click to enlarge photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien will carry out a major cabinet shuffle on Tuesday and the main beneficiary is to be Foreign Minister John Manley, who will be promoted to deputy prime minister and given responsibility for public security, officials said on Monday.

Chretien was forced to act by the surprise decision of Industry Minister Brian Tobin -- long considered a favorite to replace the 68-year-old prime minister -- to quit politics on Monday and spend more time with his family.

But officials said that rather than just replace Tobin, Chretien had decided to clear out several ministers deemed to have underperformed over the last year, especially since the Sept. 11 hijacking attacks in the United States.

"It is going to be a major shuffle, with at least a dozen ministers moving or losing their jobs," one official told Reuters, saying it would be the biggest set of changes Chretien had made to his cabinet since becoming prime minister in 1993.

Finance Minister Paul Martin, Chretien's arch-rival, will stay in his job for now.

Manley's promotion to deputy prime minister is a major promotion and further cements his position as the up-and-coming star of Canadian politics and the ruling Liberal Party, which is faced with an ineffective and fragmented opposition.

The reserved tax lawyer -- who spent seven years as industry minister before moving to foreign affairs in October 2000 -- rose to prominence after Sept. 11 when he was put in charge of a special anti-terrorism committee.

He also made his mark by insisting that Canada needed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States in its time of need and not worry about fears that this might lead to the erosion of Canadian sovereignty.


Officials said Manley -- due to make a major trip to Pakistan and India later this week -- would also be named the head of a new public security ministry, but had few precise details. Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray is set to retire.

Manley's replacement as foreign minister -- Canada's third occupant of the post in the last 16 months -- will be Bill Graham, a 62-year-old Montreal-born law professor who has been chair of parliament's foreign affairs committee for the last eight years but has never before served in government.

Another member of the cabinet changing jobs will be Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan, who has been heavily criticized for mishandling her portfolio since Sept. 11 amid U.S. complaints that Canada was not doing enough to clamp down on immigrants and refugees hostile to the United States.

Caplan will become the new minister for national revenue and will be replaced by Denis Coderre, the young and upcoming secretary of state for amateur sport. Coderre, like Chretien, is from the French-speaking province of Quebec.

There was no word on what job would be given to National Revenue Minister Martin Cauchon, like Coderre a well-regarded member of government from Quebec.

Officials speaking late on Monday said there was still no firm decision on what to do with Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano, mired in a growing scandal over allegedly demanding his friends be given jobs in government departments.

Other cabinet members set to lose their jobs are Veterans Affairs Minister Ron Duhamel, who is battling cancer, and secretary of state for multiculturalism Hedy Fry, who sparked outrage last year by falsely claiming that racists were burning crosses on the lawns of a western Canadian town.

Environment Minister David Anderson, under fire for allegedly weakening Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol on global warming, will stay in his job, the officials said.
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2002-1-15 -04:00
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