SWEARING IN: Newly-crowned Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks on as Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon is sworn into Parliament. Harper's Conservatives now form a minority government.Photo by Canadian Press
OTTAWA, Ont. – Lawrence Cannon a 58-year-old MP from Pontiac, Quebec has been sworn in as the new federal minister of transport joining Stephen Harper’s Cabinet.
Of French-Irish lineage, and born to a prominent Quebec family in 1947, Cannon, a former provincial Liberal, served as chief organizer and official spokesperson for the Conservative Party in Quebec during this election.
Cannon is credited with helping Prime Minister Harper shape the policy announcement before Christmas 2005 in which the Conservatives promised to respect provincial autonomy, make a place for Quebec in international institutions and correct the fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces.
He will head a Transport, Infrastructure and Communities portfolio created to “better link urban, interprovincial and international infrastructure development,” said the new government.
The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities will be responsible for the Office of Infrastructure Canada, as well as the National Capital Commission. A number of Crown corporations, including the Canada Lands Company and Canada Post, have also been transferred to this portfolio.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance said it looks forward to working with the government and its ministers in the upcoming Parliament.
“It seems like a good idea that Infrastructure was brought in under Transport,” said CTA CEO David Bradley.
“And we are encouraged by the government’s election platform which promises a national highway and border infrastructure plan. We are eager to learn more and to work with the new government and ministers.”
During the election campaign, Conservative leader Stephen Harper indicated he was aware that as far back as 1998, there was an estimated investment gap for the national highways system of $17-billion, and indicated interest in further dialogue with the provinces on development of a multi-modal, pan-Canadian transportation strategy.
Bob Ballantyne, president, Canadian Industrial Transportation Association, said the CITA was willing to work with the Minister’s office and will provide the views of the shipper community on the important transportation issues facing Canadian industry as the new government develops its transportation and infrastructure program.
“In a country as large as Canada, a safe, efficient, low-cost, and environmentally sustainable transportation system is a necessity for the export success of Canadian industry,” he said.
“Canada also faces major hurdles in renewing transportation and other infrastructure across the country. In each of these Departments, the Minister will have no shortage of challenges ahead of him,” said Ballantyne.
Whatever the challenge, it appears that Cannon, as a 30-year veteran of public service, will be amply prepared for the political process.
He was first elected as Councillor for the town of Cap-Rouge (Quebec region) in 1979, holding that post until 1985 when he was elected to Quebec’s National Assembly.
Re-elected in 1989, Cannon was appointed Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and, in 1991, he was named Minister of Communications by Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa.
In this role, Cannon steered the adoption of Quebec’s Access to Information legislation and chaired the Information Technology and Media cluster established by the Quebec government, which brought together government and industry leaders in a cooperative approach to economic development.
In 2001, Cannon became Councillor in the City of Gatineau and Chairman of the Outaouais Urban Transit Corporation (STO).
In his business career Cannon was founding partner of Group Cannon and Associates and a senior consultant with GPC International, where he specialized in advising private sector clients in the area of communications and public affairs.
In 1994 he was appointed vice-president of Unitel (now Primus Canada).
Lawrence holds a Masters in Business Administration (M.B.A.) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
He has been on a number of regional, national and international boards and organizations, including a member of the Board and general manager of the Hull Bicentennial Corporation, member of the Hull Economic Development Corporation and is president of the Quebec Association of Urban Transit.
Internationally, Cannon was appointed to the Board of the World Commerce Institute and was president and general manager of AmeriContact 2001 for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.
As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of External Trade, he was involved in the bilateral trade negotiations with the United States.
As a MNA, he initiated Quebec’s joining American parliamentary associations, developing discussion groups for subjects such as the sale of electricity in the New England States and cross-border commerce.