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Paul Martin may dismantle HRDC: report

Martin News Staff
Updated: Wed. Nov. 26 2003 3:34 PM ET

A report out today suggests Paul Martin and his team are planning to dismantle the Department of Human Resources as part of a number of changes he and his team are working on before he is officially sworn in next month.

According to a report in the National Post, sources say the Liberal leader plans to split up HRDC and then possibly create a new agency to run the Canada Pension Plan, tax credits and Employment Insurance.

A new department will handle all social policy functions, according to the source, who also sees a new labour department.

As for the parts of HRDC that deals with grants and contributions, that could be transferred to an expanded Industry Department, headed by either current Health Minister Anne McLellan or Ralph Goodale, the Minister of Public Works.

The Human Resources department was the subject of an audit in 2000 that found $1 billion in questionable spending in Liberal-held ridings.

According to the Post, Martin is also expected to follow the lead of the United States and establish a new Homeland Security department. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

In Canada, the department would be in charge of Canada Customs, the Coast Guard, emergency preparedness, the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Services.

It might not be created until after the next election, in the spring.

Other possible changes could include creating a new urban affairs department, in charge of housing and the homeless. Martin may also eliminate the Heritage Department and bring parts of it under a more powerful Industry Department.

To pay for his agenda, the incoming PM, who will be sworn in Dec. 12, is planning a sweeping review of programs.

Martin and his transition team have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for the new government, as well as who will stay and who will go in cabinet, and how to pay for an ambitious agenda.

The technical transition team -- in charge of how the cabinet and committees will be structured and parliamentary reform -- is being headed up by Mike Robinson of Earnscliffe Consulting, former senior deputy minister Arthur Kroeger, former solicitor-general Francis Fox and Terrie O'Leary, Martin's former executive assistant.

The team in charge of arranging policy priorities, the Throne Speech and the agenda for the House of Commons is headed up by former Martin executive assistant Ruth Thorkelson, former BCE executive Peter Nicholson and Martin strategists John Duffy and Mark Resnick.

The makeup of Martin's cabinet has been a well-kept secret. So far, the only two ministers who have been suggested as keepers are McLellan and Goodale. It is expected to number between 25 and 30 members.

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