Mulroney's Cabinet Shuffle Aims for Unity

By Fred Langan, | The Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 1991 | Go to article overview

Mulroney's Cabinet Shuffle Aims for Unity


Fred Langan,, The Christian Science Monitor


PRIME Minister Brian Mulroney has shuffled his Cabinet in a fresh bid to keep Quebec a part of Canada - and to bolster his own falling popularity.

Mr. Mulroney's most significant change, analysts say, was to move a former rival, Canada's Minister of External Affairs Joe Clark, to a new post in charge of national unity. Mr. Clark's previous post was the Canadian equivalent of the United States secretary of state.

The changes, announced April 21, amounted to one of the biggest Cabinet shuffles since Mulroney came to power in September 1984 and follows the rise of separatist feeling in Quebec and a hardening of anti-Quebec sentiment in English Canada. The task faced by Clark is to bring English and French Canada together.

"It's Brian Mulroney's last chance," says William Johnson, a political analyst in Ottawa. "If he doesn't succeed in a year at most, members of his Cabinet from Ontario and western Canada will resign and force him to call an election."

A poll issued this week shows support for an independent Quebec at 58 percent in Quebec - if a solution cannot be found to Canada's constitutional impasse. But English and French Canadians see the problem from opposite poles.

The opinion poll shows that to stay within Canada, 72 percent of Quebeckers want larger powers for their province, while 76 percent of English-speaking Canadians said "no" to more powers for Quebec.

"Joe Clark is no miracle worker," Mr. Johnson says. "He is mildly respected in Quebec as a Albertan who took the time to learn French, but he is not highly regarded in Alberta."

Mulroney's new finance minister is Donald Mazankowski of Alberta. …

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