While my headline doesn't have Rob's flair it does offer a few different thoughts. Before getting into my observations, let me say it is hard to get worked up one way or the other about a cabinet shuffle as it fails in magnitude of importance when compared to the stories from Haiti.
Work Hard and You Will Benefit - Rona Ambrose, Rob Moore and Keith Ashfield all fit the bill.
After the time she had in Environment, Rona put her head down and worked her butt off. She never complained and she found her groove. She did a wonderful job recently as Minister of Labour, bringing resolution to the significant CN rail dispute just before Christmas. The lessons she has learned should serve her well in the thankless Ministry of Public Works where she will have to oversee and explain government contracting.
The boys from New Brunswick are also proof that solid toil offers increased responsibility. Rob Moore has gone from staffer, to MP, to parliamentary secretary, to minister of state. He puts his head down, doesn't seek attention and gets the job done. Keith Ashfield a new MP and minister in 2008, has shown he can handle himself. The addition of full ACOA responsibility to his job title and the continuance of two cabinet spots for New Brunswick signals the ongoing importance of Conservative fortunes in that region to the maintenance of the Harper government.
Remember Those Fiscal Conservative Bona Fides - Stockwell Day going to the important though not publicly glamorous portfolio of Treasury Board sends a strong message to the party's fiscal conservative base. Day has solid credentials with them earned while he had a senior fiscal portfolio in Alberta. Not every Tory has been happy that the government has had to spend the way it has to battle the recession, so putting Day in the Ministry of Saying No will give them and certain opinion leaders comfort that Harper is serious about getting out of the deficit.
The Quebec Puzzle - building on Rob's interpretation of Christian Paradis' appointment as Minister of Natural Resources, I think it is symbolically valuable and may prove tougher than being the Captain of Montreal Canadians in a bad year. Having one of the government's most senior Quebec ministers take on this energy-and-environmental portfolio when these areas are key irritants in the Quebec-Ottawa relationship shows a willingness of the Prime Minister's part to confront the differences head on. It demonstrates a seriousness on the federal government's part to do that. Paradis, a capable fellow, will be judged in his own province by how he moves the yardsticks. I don't think he would have agreed to take the job if it was a kamikaze mission. One word of advice, though, to the new minister: be careful how you handle the NB-QC power deal or you may get to know my Premier more intimately than you'd like.
The Long Arm of the Law - Vic Toews is seen as a law and order guy; Public Safety is a natural fit for him. Viewed as solid and steady performer, he'll have his hands full managing many things - not the least of which will be the future direction of the RCMP. With debates about the force's leadership and representation system coming to the forefront, Toews will be tasked with finding solutions for a force he understands better than his predecessor. This is an important constituency and having a minister from a province with a long history with the Mounties does send a signal. Contract policing deals are up in 2012. One of the first jobs for him though will be to ensure a safe and secure Olympics. He'll be out to win the gold for getting it right.