Prime Minister Paul Martin formed a new cabinet on Tuesday, appointing a list of political veterans, friends and well-known personalities.
Martin chose the cabinet ministers in the aftermath of national elections last month in which his Liberal Party lost its parliamentary majority, resulting in Canada's first minority government in 25 years.
Martin kept two key ministers in their posts: Anne McLellan as deputy prime minister and public safety minister; and Ralph Goodale as finance minister. He named Pierre Pettigrew as minister of foreign affairs, and Bill Graham, who had held the foreign affairs post, was shifted to defense minister. Pettigrew told reporters: "It's important to have an independent foreign policy. Our government is very committed to that."
Ken Dryden, a former National Hockey League goalie with the Montreal Canadiens and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was named minister of social development. Other ministers include David Emerson, who once headed one of Canada's biggest forestry companies, as minister of industry; Ujjal Dosanjh, a former premier of British Columbia, as minister of health; and Scott Brison, who switched from the Conservative Party to the Liberals before the election, as minister of public works. Martin also named Tony Valeri as House leader, giving him the task of negotiating with opposition parties.
In the June 28 vote, six of Martin's cabinet ministers were defeated in their local parliamentary races. Martin's Liberals won 135 seats in the 308-seat parliament, and now must pursue their agenda by seeking support from the smaller New Democratic Party and the separatist Bloc Quebecois. Most minority governments have not lasted more than two years, and many political observers have said they expect new elections may be held within a year.
"The recent election made it clear that Canadians expect a better government," Martin told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa. "This cabinet was created to hit the ground running, to provide dependable, spirited administration, to deliver real progress on the issues that matter most to Canadians."
Martin said the government's priority would be to improve the public health care system, establish a national child care program and improve federal government relations with aboriginal communities.