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Key players on Harper's team, and why he chose them

Wednesday's shuffle keeps the Prime Minister's most trusted allies in place and positions his team to help push his priority of balancing the books

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JIM FLAHERTY, FINANCE MINISTER Having campaigned on the theme of economic stability, the Prime Minister could hardly yank the Finance Minister. Mr. Flaherty has earned a solid reputation internationally during the international economic crisis. Soon he’ll introduce a slightly modified version of his March budget.

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TONY CLEMENT, TREASURY BOARD He built a huge profile as the populist industry minister: protecting Canadian firms from multinational takeovers and consumers from excessive Internet bills. Now Mr. Popularity becomes Dr. No. He must squeeze cuts from all departments, but he has the political skills to pull it off with the least amount of controversy.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

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CHRISTIAN PARADIS, MINISTER OF INDUSTRY A solid performer in the House of Commons, he avoided trouble at Natural Resources even as some wondered how the Quebecker would manage the oil-sands file. Now he heads straight into the divisive issue of copyright reform as the government tries to pass legislation that bogged down in previous minority Parliaments.

Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

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JOE OLIVER, MINISTER OF NATURAL RESOURCES The hottest file waiting on the desk of the Natural Resources Minister is Ottawa’s plan to sell-off Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. With an extensive background as a senior Toronto investment banker, this rookie MP is well placed to shepherd these negotiations with private bidders. The new MP defeated Liberal veteran Joe Volpe in Toronto. The Harvard MBA graduate most recently was head of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada, the voice of the stock brokerage industry.

J. P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

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ED FAST, MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE The departure of senior B.C. cabinet ministers Stockwell Day and Chuck Strahl created openings for two little-known MPs to move up. Abbotsford lawyer Ed Fast, first elected in 2006, jumps into the trade portfolio at a time when Canada is negotiating a sweeping trade deal with the European Union and is looking at new border measures with the United States. Almost always smiling, Mr. Fast quietly became a popular MP on Parliament Hill.

Ed Fast

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ALICE WONG, MINISTER OF STATE FOR SENIORS One of 10 women in cabinet (a number unchanged from before the election), the Richmond MP kept a low profile in Ottawa but now she’s in charge of a very active file. Ottawa and the provinces are in the midst of negotiations to reform Canada’s pension system. Ms. Wong isn’t on her own however, as these negotiations are largely handled by finance ministers. As the former parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, the Vancouver-area MP, a business instructor and former talk-show host, was first elected in 2008.

Handout

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PETER KENT, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT Peter Kent moved to the environment post earlier this year and quickly raised eyebrows by describing Alberta’s oil sands as an “ethical” source of energy. Many eyes will be on Mr. Kent to see whether that means he’ll go easy on the industry or deliver long-promised rules to curb industrial emissions. The clock is ticking. The Harper government’s 2020 targets for greenhouse-gas emission reductions are slipping out of reach.

Dave Chan

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MAXIME BERNIER, MINISTER OF STATE FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND TOURISM Max is back. Mr. Bernier’s free-spirited antics meant his first run at the federal cabinet table was a short one. Thanks to the fact that the Conservatives only held five Quebec seats, he’s getting another chance. This portfolio will allow him to keep speaking about small-government and libertarian values, without the burden of responsibility to make big government decisions.

Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

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JOHN BAIRD, FOREIGN AFFAIRS It’s been one thankless job after another for John Baird. The Prime Minister made him environment minister when much of the world was criticizing Canada’s environmental record. He was put in charge of pushing stimulus cash out the door with a minimum of controversy and he was named House leader to stare down an unruly minority Parliament. Foreign affairs is his reward, but he will have to be a quick learner amid spreading turmoil in the Middle East and talk of new arrangements with the United States.

Henry Romero/Reuters

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DENIS LEBEL, TRANSPORT MINISTER The former mayor of Roberval is a quick climber. First elected in a 2007 by-election, Mr. Lebel has impressed. Transport is a big department full of potential crises. His appointment is a signal to Quebeckers that the province is in charge of big portfolios. The question will be whether Mr. Lebel can handle it.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

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LISA RAITT, LABOUR After a controversy-filled run at Natural Resources, Lisa Raitt’s 2010 demotion to the much smaller Labour portfolio was seen as temporary. After Wednesday’s shuffle, she’s still there. Ms. Raitt arrived in Ottawa as a rising star but now she is one of several Toronto-area Conservatives with solid backgrounds who could move up in the future.

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JASON KENNEY, IMMIGRATION The Prime Minister owes a great deal – if not his majority – to Jason Kenney. His tireless work in ethnic communities helped put the Conservatives over the top in areas like Brampton and Mississauga. He may simply have made himself irreplaceable in the job. He now has major new responsibilities as chair of the cabinet committee on operations, essentially the senior manager for Parliament, communications and the myriad issues that can pop up at any time.

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PETER MacKAY, DEFENCE His future in this post seemed in doubt late last year as he was overheard fuming on the steps of Parliament: Mr. MacKay didn’t like the way his government handled its relations with the United Arab Emirates. His decision to proudly wear a Fly Emirates baseball cap was a not-so-subtle act of insubordination as he reportedly criticized his cabinet colleague John Baird’s decisions on aviation policy. The Prime Minister is willing to overlook that indiscretion. Also, the troops seem to like him.

FRED CHARTRAND

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PETER PENASHUE, INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS The newly elected MP is the first Conservative to win in Newfoundland and Labrador since the Tories lost seats there in 2008. The aboriginal leader is best known for his work negotiating land claims for the Innu of Labrador, including a place at the table in nickel and hydroelectric developments.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

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PETER VAN LOAN To Government House Leader from International Trade. First elected in 2004 in the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, Mr. Van Loan has held the portfolios of Public Safety, Sport, Intergovernmental Affairs and Democratic Reform. He also previously served as Government House Leader in 2007-08.

Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press

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STEVEN BLANEY To Veterans Affairs from the backbenches. The Quebec City MP was first elected in 2006.

Mathieu Belanger/Reuters

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BERNARD VALCOURT To Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The bilingual Mulroney-era minister from New Brunswick just returned to Ottawa, 18 years after he was last defeated. The professional politician held four separate cabinet posts in the Mulroney government, including immigration and labour. Mr. Valcourt later moved onto New Brunswick's Legislative Assembly, where he was opposition leader.

Bernard Valcourt

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TIM UPPAL To Minister of State for Democratic Reform from the backbenches. The Edmonton-area MP was first elected in 2008.

Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press

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BAL GOSAL To Minister of State for Sport. The newly elected MP represents the Ontario riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

Handout

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JULIAN FANTINO To Associate Minister of Defence from Seniors. The MP is a former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner and Toronto Police chief. He won the Toronto-area riding of Vaughan for the Tories in a by-election in November.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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GAIL SHEA To Revenue from Fisheries. The PEI MP was first elected in 2008 and is a former provincial cabinet minister.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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KEITH ASHFIELD To Fisheries from Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The New Brunswick MP was first elected in 2008 and is a former provincial cabinet minister.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

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