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Doing the Harper shuffle

Ordinary working people in the arts community who were miffed by the Conservative government’s $45-million cuts to a broad array of arts programs may have reason to breathe a bit easier today. Josée Verner, the Heritage Minister in place when those cuts were announced, has been bounced from her portfolio by newly re-elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who announced his new cabinet today. Verner takes over the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio, while James Moore, MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, takes over the Heritage post.

Celebrations within the arts community may prove short-lived, however. According to his official website, the only arts-related experience Moore has had comes from working as a radio broadcaster in Vancouver and Prince George, where he hosted a talk show called “Behind the Headlines.” He has held several positions in the Conservative government, including parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and, most recently, Secretary of State for the 2010 Olympics, Official Languages, and the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

His website bio reads in part:

In his first term in office, through Private Members’ bills, James proposed legislation that would offer relief to victims of the leaky condo tragedy, toughen laws against date-rape drugs, force the Prime Minister to appoint elected Senators, impose consecutive rather than concurrent sentencing for violent criminals, ban gun ownership for violent criminals, toughen penalties for the illegal trafficking of prohibited weapons and ammunition, and toughen penalties for the trafficking of child pornography online.

It remains to be seen whether this tough-on-crime crusader will be a successful advocate for Canadian arts organizations. This Quillblogger has his suspicions, but will refrain from voicing them at this time.

Also of note in Harper’s newly constituted cabinet is the presence of veteran television broadcaster Peter Kent, who takes over as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas).