Jim Flaherty is expected to remain as Finance Minister in a new cabinet that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil Monday.
Although the shuffle will be more substantial than many observers predicted, government sources say they believe Mr. Harper has decided to keep Mr. Flaherty at his post.
The Finance Minister has said publicly that he wants to remain on the job until the budget is brought back into balance, and has suggested that he may contest the next election.
Shuffling Mr. Flaherty would signal a determination on Mr. Harper’s part to radically reshape the face of his government. But with the Conservatives’ track record on the economy their greatest political asset, such a move could be politically damaging to an already-troubled administration, and could send shockwaves through markets. Mr. Flaherty is now expected to remain where he is until the 2015 election, by which time the budget will be balanced, according to government projections, and a new round of promised tax cuts are in place.
In preparation for the shuffle, there are signs that cabinet ministers and those slated for promotion into it are being recalled from their constituencies.
Ray Novak, Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, began phoning ministers and cabinet newcomers with their new assignments on Saturday night, The Canadian Press reported.
An event that had been planned for Monday in Saskatoon involving Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was cancelled Saturday. His office said Mr. Ritz would be in Ottawa for meetings Monday. It said it had no information about whether he would be affected by any shuffle.
Manitoba MP Shelly Glover arrived in Ottawa Sunday afternoon. The retirement of Vic Toews has opened up a cabinet spot in Manitoba, and Ms. Glover is among his potential successors.
Asked about the cabinet shuffle, she said: “I don't know, but I'm here,” adding that it’s possible some MPs could return for any ceremony even if they weren't being included in cabinet.
“I did not get any calls from Mr. Novak, but as you know I'm very proud to be a part of the Conservative caucus. Whatever he decides, the Prime Minister, it’s his prerogative. And when he decides, he'll make those calls. Whatever happens, happens,” Ms. Glover said.
There is much talk of generational change as the Conservatives, now in power for more than seven years, seek to freshen up the front bench in an effort to take the bloom off Justin Trudeau’s reinvigorated Liberals and Tom Mulcair’s NDP.
What’s known is that the prime minister has some gaps to fill.
Vic Toews announced his retirement from politics last week, opening up the important public safety portfolio.
Keith Ashfield has left his post as the fisheries minister due to ill health, and Peter Kent has publicly indicated he’ll be out as environment minister — something confirmed Sunday by sources.
Harper’s popular junior finance minister, Ted Menzies, is also stepping aside, and Sen. Marjory LeBreton, the Conservative government leader in the Senate and cabinet member, is also resigning her post.
With files from the Canadian Press
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