Monday, September 26, 2005

Exit John Efford

There are a lot of reasons for getting rid of a cabinet minister. Good ones: he's incompetent / corrupt / stupid. Bad ones: he's a whistleblower / he's upset the prime minister / he's too much in love with the media. And ugly ones: he slept with an intern / he spent $1000 on lap dances / he punched out a reporter.

Lost among all these, though, are the sad ones. Case in point: the Honorable Mr. John Efford, the Liberal MP for Avalon and now-former Minister of Natural Resources:

CTV News has learned that [current revenue minister] John McCallum is temporarily taking on the duties of Natural Resources Minister John Efford, as Efford continues to struggle with health issues.

Efford has been ill of late because of diabetes and has had to cancel a number of trips and engagements as he undergoes treatment.

He recently was forced to skip a key meeting of provincial energy ministers in St. Andrews, N.B. Deputy Minister Richard Fadden, a bureaucrat who had joined the Natural Resources department only two weeks before, had to take his place.

You'll recall that, two weeks ago, I mentioned that Mr. Fadden was going to be busy. He'll be more so because gas prices are now on the public agenda and McCallum's appointment is meant to be temporary:

McCallum will take on the new job as well as continuing in his duties as minister of national revenue. He will not be formally sworn in as natural resources minister.

There's no point in swearing McCallum in because of Martin's promise to call an election after the release of the Gomery report; McCallum simply won't have time to settle into the position. (There's also the possibility of the government falling on a non-confidence motion; Efford may still be well enough to attend and vote in Parliament, so while the changes are pretty tight, it's also pretty remote.)

Will he be back? That depends on whether he can manage his condition. Changes in diet and lifestyle will normally help, but if some of the complications have set in (such as heart disease) the odds are against it.

Good luck, Mr. Efford. You're going to need it.