Hiebert left out of Conservative cabinet

Re-elected MP says he trusts prime minister’s judgment, looking forward to committee assignments

Newly-re-elected South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert is not expressing any disappointment at not receiving a post in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new cabinet.

B.C. MPs named to the cabinet Wednesday were James Moore (Port Moody-Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam), who retains his position as minister of Canadian heritage and languages; John Duncan (Vancouver Island North), who holds on to the renamed ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs; Alice Wong (Richmond) who was chosen minister of state for seniors; and Ed Fast (Abbotsford), picked as minister of international trade.

But Hiebert, a staunch Conservative who far outstripped local competitors at the polls on May 2, said he abides by Harper’s choices.

“I look forward to serving in any capacity I can,” Hiebert told Peace Arch News Thursday. “The prime minister had a lot of hard decisions to make and he has a number of other highly qualified candidates to consider. I trust his judgment.”

Hiebert said he is looking forward to the first week Parliament is in session, after it re-opens June 2, when he expects committee assignments to be announced.

“Because the government is so eager to pass the budget, that will probably happen fairly quickly,” Hiebert said.

Hiebert, who was first elected in the riding in 2004, has latterly served on the House of Commons Finance Committee and the International Human Rights Subcommittee.

He has previously been parliamentary secretary to the minister of National Defence, and also served on the standing committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics; and the Conservative Party task force on Safe Streets and Healthy Communities.

He continues in roles as chair of the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and as founder and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Border Caucus.

Hiebert said that in his latter role he has been heartened by announcements by Harper and US President Barack Obama that there will be greater co-operation in moving goods and people across the border while still maintaining appropriate security levels for both nations.

“You know it’s going to get top priority when both the prime minister and the president of the U.S. are speaking about it,” said Hiebert, who noted that the Pacific Highway border crossing is the largest in the west.

Hiebert said that removing obstacles to traffic between the two countries, through such initiatives as the Trusted Traveller and Nexus programs is of crucial economic importance to both.

“It’s very important to this community and to the Lower Mainland,” he added. “I think the Americans are beginning to wake up to how important this is. A total of 36 states list Canada as their number one trading partner, and any delay at the border can end up costing thousands of dollars.”