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Ritz, Raitt take new posts in Conservative caucus

Former ministers all have different portfolios

After eight years as agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz has become the opposition critic on international trade. Former transport minister Lisa Raitt has moved on to the post of finance critic.

Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose announced a sweeping shuffle of the responsibilities of the Conservative MPs that seems to have left no one in the role they had before the party’s ouster from office in the Oct. 19 election.

Chris Warkentin from the Alberta Riding of Grand Prairie-Mackenzie is the new agriculture critic while Kelly Block from Carleton Trail-Eagle Creek in Saskatchewan takes over as health critic.

Kellie Leitch, the former labour minister, is now the health critic while Manitoba’s James Bezan is the national defence spokesman.

Bev Shipley, chairman of the Commons agriculture committee, will be the rural affairs critic.

A couple of prominent rural Conservative MPs — Larry Miller, former chairman of the agriculture and transport committees, and Randy Hoback — were not assigned spokesmen roles.

Among the deputy critic appointees are Ben Lobb from Huron-Bruce in Ontario for transport, Jacques Gourde in agriculture and Colin Carrie in health.

Ritz should have a relatively easy learning curve in international trade as he put a lot of work into both the tentative Canada-Europe free trade deal and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The NDP has selected Ruth Ellen Brosseau as its agriculture critic. She’s a veteran member of the Commons agriculture committee. Linda Duncan from Edmonton will be the transport spokeswoman while Don Davies has moved from international trade to health. Newcomer Tracey Ramsey will be the international trade critic.

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