Shake-up Ruffles Feathers at Indian Affairs... Meanwhile, Indian Affairs Minister Bob Nault was less than delighted to discover when the new cabinet was announced that he had himself a helper. The appointment of British Columbia up and comer Steve Owen as junior minister of Indian affairs (a newly-invented post) was not something that had previously been discussed, apparently. According to one source, the first Mr. Nault found out about it was from a staffer just before the new cabinet was revealed to the world. The scuttlebutt is that the appointment was made with no clear definition of what this role would entail and that they are still trying to work out the division of labour. On a political level, it is not surprising that Mr. Nault may feel the need to develop a set of eyes in his back. The new appointment could be seen as a lack of faith in his abilities, especially if it was planned and executed without his input. On the other hand, aboriginal affairs is a huge ministry with huge problems that no one has yet been able to fix. Giving the department two ministers might just be Jean Chrétien's way of demonstrating he is serious about making aboriginal issues a priority. Mr. Owen, a former B.C. ombudsman and widely considered a rising star to watch, is a natural choice. He can be point-man in his home province, where land claims issues are on the boil, and for western Canada as a whole. LIFE IS A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN, AND POLITICS FOOD OF LIFE Hey it was only 10 years and I have boxer shorts older than that...The fuss over the recent anniversary of Ottawa Councillor Alex Munter's decade in municipal Ottawa politics seemed a bit over the top at the time, eh? There were news stories, CBC radio specials, and a massive party with anybody who was anybody in political circles showing up to pay respects. The news coverage was understandable -- reporters and editors owe him for all those pithy quotes of outrage or whatever that he can always be relied upon to deliver. But the party was more like a hoe-down for Liberal hotshots and insiders than a local councillor's mini-milestone shindig. Certain rumours doing the rounds might help to explain the big fuss. One has the provincial Liberals courting him to run on their slate in the next election (didn't they turn him down last time around?), and the other has the federal Liberals looking to him as a potential candidate in Lanark Carleton, to the west and south of the city. The riding was Liberal until Ian Murray lost it to Scott Reid in 2000, giving the Canadian Alliance half of the two seats they won in Ontario. WORD ON THE STREET IS MINNA FELT BETRAYED BY PMO Ms. Minna's Manners Missing?... Word is Maria Minna did not go quietly into the backbenches when she was dumped as minister for International Cooperation in this month's cabinet shuffle. Ms. Minna, whom despite what other problems she may have had, always struck me as a rather good technical minister when it came to issues of overseas aid, was apparently not at all happy with her staffers and, so the story goes, spent some time berating them after Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told her on Jan. 14 that she was about to become cabinet history the next morning. It seems Ms. Minna felt she had been undermined by her staff, who earlier had agreed with the PMO that she should not put up a big public fight over that little voting irregularity thing in Toronto. Of course, she had earlier blamed her voting irregularities on faulty advice from staff, so they probably weren't in her good books to start with. The way I hear it, she felt that she was tricked into laying low because she was told it would all blow over and life would return to normal, and that her staff let her down by not telling her the PMO was singing its version of "What are we going to do about Maria?" behind her back. BROWN TO LEAVE CBC AFTER 16 YEARS, FAREWELL DEBRA Time for another CBC farewell party... CBC Television's Hill bureau has lost another familiar face. Debra Brown worked her final shift last Friday after 16 years with the Mother Corp and a total of 20 years in broadcast journalism. Ms. Brown, a mom of two, tells me she has been rethinking her life since returning from maternity leave last year and simply felt it was time for a change. Unlike some media departures we have seen of late, Ms. Brown says hers is amicable and of her own making. But she refuses to say what she is moving on to except that it will not be in journalism, or teaching, and no she will not be joining Jason Moscovitz at the BDC in Montreal. So what does that leave? Consulting? A government job? Ms. Brown says she will reveal all to friends this Friday and not before. I don't feel too bad about not being able to pry the information out of her because even her tenacious fellow CBC television reporter "Jugular Julie" Van Dusen wasn't able to squeeze the secret out of the unflappable Ms. Brown. PARTY POWERS ENAMOURED WITH LIB STEPHEN KAKFWI NWT might not be safe territory for Ethel... Talk has reached my delicate ears to the effect that N.W.T. Premier Stephen Kakfwi is considering a run at federal politics some time in the next couple of years -- and that the party powers that be are rather enamoured of the idea. Long-time Lib Lynda Sorensen, who was Mr. Kakfwi's former chief of staff, has been in town scouting things out and some are starting to talk. Of course, the lone federal seat for the N.W.T. -- Western Arctic -- is already occupied by Ethel Blondin Andrew, who escaped unscathed in the Dec. 14 cabinet bloodletting despite having struggled to make a strong impression. Her survival in large part may be due to the fact that it would not look good for a Prime Minister who is vowing to improve the lot of Canada's aboriginal peoples and it wouldn't look good if he turned around to dump the first native woman to be elected to the Commons and appointed to cabinet. Ms. Blondin Andrew is a treaty Dene and her mother tongue is Dene-Slavey. But Mr. Kakfwi, who is the former president of the Dene Nation, is said to be eyeing the nomination for the next election -- or maybe even a little earlier should a byelection be held. Interestingly, his new right hand is Melody Morrison, whom astute political watchers may recall from her time with former Ontario NDP leader and premier Bob Rae. Ms. Blondin Andrew is probably secure for another year, but after that, she might want to look around for a nice parachute -- just in case.