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The Globe and Mail

Layton flexes caucus muscle in NDP shadow cabinet

NDP Leader Jack Layton arrives at a caucus meeting in Ottawa on May 25, 2011.


Jack Layton announced his shadow cabinet Thursday morning, showcasing a mix of experience and new blood to counter the large 39-member cabinet Stephen Harper named last week.

With 103 MPs to choose from, and 59 of them from Quebec, the NDP Leader had an abundance of riches - but also rookies. In addition, there are quite a few women in the shadow cabinet given the Official Opposition caucus is now 40 per cent female.

With that in mind, Mr. Layton stressed consistency and stability - as the Prime Minister did in keeping his core ministers intact.

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Windsor MP Joe Comartin remains in his post as justice critic, a demanding job given the Tory majority government's tough-on-crime policies and proposed legislation. Newfoundland MP Jack Harris retains his position as defence critic, keeping the heat on Defence Minister Peter MacKay, and Ottawa MP Paul Dewar continues as foreign affairs critic.

Libby Davies, meanwhile, takes over the health portfolio. She had served as the NDP's House Leader but will be the point person on medicare as negotiations for the 2014 health accord get underway. Thomas Mulcair, who delivered in spades for Mr. Layton in Quebec, takes over as Opposition House Leader. Toronto MP Peggy Nash takes over as finance critic from Mr. Mulcair and Halifax MP Megan Leslie moves to environment from health.

A newcomer to one of the top shadow cabinet spots is Jasbir Sandhu, who defeated Dona Cadman in Surrey North. Mr. Sandhu will take over as public safety critic; he's got some experience in that field as an instructor at a the School for Public Safety and Security at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. According to his biography, the school provides training to police officers, firefighters and taxi drivers.

Another new face, Gatineau MP Francoise Boivin, will serve as status of women critic. An effective communicator, she'll be going up against Rona Ambrose on women's issues. Ms. Boivin also has parliamentary experience, once serving as a Liberal MP before switching over to Mr. Layton's team in the 2008 election but losing her bid for a Quebec seat.

Read the full list here.

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