According to several media reports, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil his new cabinet sometime in the next week. The big question revolves around the vacancy at Foreign Affairs, with either Industry Minister Jim Prentice or Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon seen as the likely replacement (if Prentice goes to Foreign Affairs, some speculate that Cannon will take over at Industry). While the identity of the Industry Minister – whether new or old – matters a great deal to those following issues such as copyright, telecom, and privacy, the government should consider something much more proactive.
The not-so-secret reality of the Industry Minister portfolio is that it is simply far too large to give all the issues under its mandate the necessary attention. Manufacturing, automotive, telecom, foreign investment, competition, consumer affairs, intellectual property, scientific research and dozens of other issues all fall under the same umbrella. While this was the intention back in the early 1990s when Industry Canada was formed as a "super Ministry" that merged Consumer and Corporate Affairs with Communications, this experiment has failed. With so many issues demanding attention, it should come as little surprise that many issues either fall under the radar screen or take months to be addressed.