That breakthrough alone clinches Ms. Shea a cabinet gig as the province's government insider. But her apparently scandal-free performance as a P.E.I. cabinet minister makes Ms. Shea the surest bet as a rookie MP becoming a minister.
Runner-up for that claim is Leona Aglukkaq, the first Conservative MP elected for Nunavut. She might not be ready for a stand-alone portfolio --a one-term cabinet-equivalent gig in the territorial government is simply not in the same league as leading a large federal department -- but she has roots in a variety of public service roles that appear solid enough to rate being tested in a junior job.
It sounds about right. After Ms Aglukkaq came to our office for her "over the satellite" interview with one of our anchors, I used the chance to get in a personal message.
When you get to Ottawa look up Gail Shea.
Both of you are women coming from areas without strong Tory history, and are the only person in the party to represent a large group, Northerners for Leona and PEImiut for Gail, and both have served in a cabinet.
The other reason I suggested it, is because I know both of them professionally. I worked in Western PEI before coming here, and reported extensively on Ms Shea. The two have many personaility traits in common (both positive and negative, but they do match up nicely).
Turns out, the two know each other already, from Status of Women meetings. Ms Aglukkaq was quite pleased when she heard that Gail had won. Gail was also the only person I knew who had been to Nunavut before I moved here, and was effusive in her praise of -- as the Premier is wont to say -- "the good people of Nunavut".
The description of Gail as "scandal free" has at least one newspaper editor I know jumping up and down in rage... see, there was this thing called Polar Foods, where a bunch of fish plant owners collapsed the lobster processing industry on PEI, and ripped off the government for more than $20 million.
It hurt Gail's riding pretty badly. Some would call it a scandal. I would have at the time. Upon reflection, I feel more like all Islanders got mugged by some fish plant owners, due to a pretty lax loan guarantee system on PEI. She has to wear at least some of it, her government guaranteed the loans.
Watch me drop a name here. When I was travelling to Alert with Def. Min. Peter McKay, I interviewed him in front of the weather station up there. We are doing the bit where you take a long shot of the two people talking, for cutaways -- a two shot for TV geeks. McKay was the Minister responsible for PEI, since they didn't elect any Torys.
I usually make small talk, or crack a joke. For McKay, I simply said, "Do you think Gail has a shot in Egmont?" I figured a PEI Inside Baseball question would be a good way to break the ice.
He did laugh, and told a great story about driving through snowstorm from Pictou to Tignish for a fundraiser, going to the Legion in Tignish, and ending up on stage with Ms Shea in some sort of skit, where she was in costume and cracking jokes.
I thoguht to myself, "Wow, you really have been to Tignish."
I hope they both get into cabinet, mostly because I don't perceive either of them as being Reform Party based right wing lunatics. They may just be sneaking two Progressive Conservatives into cabinet... couldn't hurt.