If the party is big enough, earning a place on the front bench as a member of the Official Opposition’s “shadow cabinet” is a pretty good way to gage the importance of a particular politician to the party. With that mind, political observers took notice Tuesday morning when Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong was named to the Conservative’s starting line-up as the critic for Foreign Affairs.
Chong, who has represented the riding that basically surrounds Guelph for over 16 years, was one of the 40-plus Conservative politicians who were named to positions in the so-called “shadow government” by new party leader Erin O’Toole.
“Today, I am proud to present the Conservative government in waiting that will defeat Justin Trudeau’s corrupt Liberal government in the next election,” O’Toole said in a media statement. “In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a plan to put hardworking Canadians first, lead our nation out of this crisis and rebuild our great country.”
Chong served as a shadow minister under the previous Conservative leader Andew Scheer. In 2017, he was named the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Communities and Urban Affairs, which was the first time that Chong had made it to the Conservative front bench since he resigned as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for Sport in Stephen Harper’s first government. He resigned from cabinet in November 2006 on a principled stand against a motion from his own caucus to name “the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada.”
Chong ran for the Conservative leadership following Harper’s resignation after the 2015 Federal Election. Widely considered a moderate candidate, and one who went so far as to support a revenue-neutral carbon tax option to battle climate change, Chong made it to the tenth out of 13 rounds of voting at the leadership convention before falling off the ballot. He handily won re-election in 2019 with 47.4 per cent of the vote, nearly 20 points more than his Liberal competitor Dr. Lesley Barron.
“I’m excited to take on this new role, and I’m proud to be working alongside an experienced team that will continue to hold the government to account on behalf of all Canadians,” Chong said in a media release. “Foreign affairs matters. I know this because during the Second World War my Chinese father was defended by Canadian soldiers in Hong Kong and Dutch mother was liberated by them. We should never forget the sacrifices Canadians have made in defence of our values.”
The House of Commons will resume sitting on September 23 with a Speech from the Throne.