Environment Minister Peter Kent’s odd press release: Will “enthusiastically embrace” a backbench role

Andy Radia

Excuse me? What did you just say?

Those are the first two questions that came to my mind upon reading Environment Minister Peter Kent's statement, released Friday, where he said that he will "enthusiastically embrace" a "still officially hypothetical" demotion as part of the "impeding changes to cabinet."

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Here's the statement in it's entirety:

It has been an honour, since 2008, to proudly represent the GTA constituency of Thornhill in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Harper amplified that honour when he appointed me to his Cabinet, first as the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) and, since January 2011, as Minister of the Environment.

Given increasing speculation regarding the coming Cabinet shuffle, statements from a number of esteemed colleagues that they will not run in the 2015 election and should not be considered for cabinet, and, in response to concerns expressed by Thornhill constituents, I wish to clarify a number of issues.

Whatever the outcome of the impending changes to Cabinet, I firmly intend to stand for re-election in 2015.

While it has been a great honour to have served in cabinet, political service does not begin or end in that revered body.

Our Conservative caucus has an abundance of talented MPs and it is only appropriate that other, younger men and women should take a turn in cabinet. I will fully support the PM's eventual decisions.

If, in the fullness of time and the eventual shuffle, I do find myself a backbench Parliamentarian, I will enthusiastically embrace what will be, for me, exciting new challenges.

Although still officially hypothetical, I would be able to better devote myself to my Thornhill constituents, to their issues, and to the issues of the Greater Toronto Area.

Most important among those issues; growing the economy, helping job creation, protecting our environment, AND, working to ensure the re-election of a strong, stable, majority Conservative government.

As an accomplished journalist, Kent, 70, was a 'star' recruit by the Conservative Party. Since taking on the challenging role of environment minister in 2011, however, he's faced his share of criticism.

In recent months he's gone on the offensive, attacking environmental groups and reporters for their coverage of the Harper government's environmental record. And, yes, there have been rumours about him being ousted from cabinet.

[ Related: Environment Minister Peter Kent goes on the offensive against government critics ]

Regardless, political consultant Gerry Nicholls — who has been around politics a long time — says that Kent's press release is a strange one.

"It’s almost like Kent’s preparing his constituents for his demotion, which is kind of odd," Nicholls told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Either he’s partly spilling the cabinet shuffle beans, or he lacks the confidence he will keep his post. Either way, it’s an unusual communication strategy."

The Twittersphere's reaction to Kent's press release:

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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