A couple of hours ago, just as we were starting to have some fun speculating on what the Liberals' shadow-cabinet shuffle meant, a small bombshell landed in our little media world here in Ottawa. Tom Clark, after four decades with CTV, is leaving the network, and also as host of one of the nightly politics shows in the capital.
Though I've been more associated with CBC over the years, especially with Don Newman's old show (less so with its replacement), I had enormous respect for Tom Clark as a political-show host. His questions were smart and he managed to be pleasantly curt with politicos who were trying to use their time on his show to repeat talking points. Most of all, Clark restored credibility to a show that had devolved into a long, job-application process for the Senate under previous host Mike Duffy. (Hey, say what you like about that comedy show. It got Mike the job he wanted.) I'm hoping that Clark lands somewhere soon where we can continue to enjoy his professionalism and hard-earned political insights. They were much needed around here and will be missed each evening between 5 and 6.
At any rate, it all means that Parliament Hill is suddenly VERY interesting after a sleepy old summer. On the shadow-cabinet shuffle, David Akin had a neat idea -- pairing the new critics with the cabinet ministers they're up against. Take a look at Akin's fast work here.
As noted in the previous post, the pairing to watch, in my view, is new Government House leader John Baird against new Liberal House leader David McGuinty. They're both Ottawa politicians -- which makes sense, since the House leader has to spend a lot of time around the capital. But their antagonism (and I believe it's real) also has roots at Queen's Park, where McGuinty's brother, the premier, worked on the other side of the Legislature from Baird. I think there's lots of history there.
Also interesting -- Rodger Cuzner, out as whip. You'll remember that there was lots of speculation about this after the Liberals lost that crucial vote they provoked on abortion and foreign aid last winter. I don't think Cuzner's in the dog house with the leader, though. Out in Baddeck, Ignatieff went out of his way a couple of times to single out Cuzner for special mention and apparently (I'd have to double check this), Cuzner was the first MP to publicly sign on to Ignatieff's leadership bid back in 2006.
Interesting also to see Denis Coderre back in the fold as Natural Resources critic after his public spat with Ignatieff last fall, and I'll be intrigued to see what Scott Brison does with the Finance portfolio, which may be all-important this fall.