Two York grads are part of Paul Martin’s cabinet

A new government, new ministers and “a new way of thinking” – all were highlighted in Paul Martin’s first throne speech yesterday as a new session of Parliament began. And among the new ministers watching Governor General Adrienne Clarkson deliver the address were two York alumni. Agriculture Minister Robert (Bob) Speller (BA ’79, MA ’83) and Minister for International Cooperation Aileen Carroll (B Ed ’89) were elevated to cabinet by Martin when he became prime minister in December. (One other cabinet member, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, also has a York connection: he holds a York honorary doctorate – LLD ’87 – which cited him as “a scholar and advocate of international stature.”)

The new ministers have a busy time ahead. Political pundits expect that in addition to the priorities outlined in the throne speech, Martin will call a federal election in the spring. Until then, Speller and Carroll will be focusing on their cabinet responsibilities. Here’s a run-down of what their daybooks will hold for the next few months.

Robert (Bob) Speller

Bob Speller (right) studied political science and Canadian studies at York, and he’ll be able to put them to good use. As minister for agriculture and agri-food, his portfolio includes handling the crisis in Canadian beef production caused by the discovery last spring of a cow in western Canada afflicted with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Since his appointment in December, Speller has collected plenty of frequent travel miles criss-crossing the globe to reassure other government officials of the safety of Canadian beef.

Speller will also serve on two key government committees – the Domestic Affairs committee and the Canada-US committee. The domestic affairs committee will examine in an integrated manner the social, economic and environmental policy issues faced by the government. The Canada-US committee will work to ensure an integrated, government-wide approach to Canada-US relations.

MP for the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant, Speller has plenty of experience to bring to his new responsibilities. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1988. Most recently, he served as a member of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, and a member of the Sub-Committee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment.

He also served as Chair of the Prime Minister’s Caucus Task Force on Future Opportunities in Farming, Chair of the Liberal Rural Caucus and Chair of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food. Speller was the parliamentary secretary to the minister for international trade, and held membership in the Parliamentary Steel Caucus and Joint Inter-Parliamentary Council. He and his wife Joan Mouland have a son and a daughter.

Aileen Carroll

As minister for international cooperation, former York education student Aileen Carroll (left) is responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which supports foreign aid projects in more than 100 of the poorest countries of the world. The agency’s stated objective is to work with developing countries and countries in transition to develop the tools to eventually meet their own needs. Its current plan is to strengthen its programming in four areas of social development: health and nutrition, basic education, HIV/AIDS, and child protection.

Carroll will also serve on the government’s Global Affairs Committee, which will ensure an integrated approach to foreign affairs, defence, international development, trade and other international issues, including the current HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa.

First elected to the House of Commons in 1997, Carroll was re-elected in the 2000 general election. She was appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs in September 2001. She has served as a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Previously, she was a member of the Standing Committees on the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Committee on Health. During her first term in Parliament, Carroll chaired the Government Caucus on the Environment and Sustainable Development, and was Vice-Chair of the non-partisan Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association.

Before her election as MP for Barrie-Simcoe-Bradford, Carroll was an alderman in Barrie and was for many years a partner in a small manufacturing business. She and her husband Kevin have two children.