Ottawa, July 16 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has brought in "younger members of parliament ready for new opportunities" while keeping "steady hands that will continue to deliver strong leadership in key portfolios" in one of the largest Cabinet shuffles he has made since taking office in 2006.
Eight new faces are part of the 39-member Cabinet. They include Chris Alexander, Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan, who becomes the country's new minister of citizenship and immigration and replaces Jason Kenney, who now becomes minister of the newly named department of employment and social development that replaces human resource and skills development department, reported Xinhua.
Half of the new appointments are women and include Shelly Glover, a 46-year-old former police officer, who will serve as minister of Canadian heritage and official languages, replacing James Moore, who is now Canada's industry minister.
Harper now has 12 women in his Cabinet, two more than he had before Monday's cabinet overhaul.
Several senior Cabinet ministers remain, although some swapped jobs.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, a former prosecutor, is now Canada's justice minister and Attorney General, a position held by Rob Nicholson, who now takes over the national defence portfolio.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver all kept their jobs.
A few Cabinet members were dropped, including Environment Minister Peter Kent, who publicly acknowledged that possibility before Monday's swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada's Governor General and representative of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's head of state.
Replacing Kent on the environment file is Leona Aglukkaq, who was the first Inuk (an indigenous person from the Arctic) in Canadian history to be appointed to a federal Cabinet when she was named minister of health in 2008.
Rona Ambrose, previously the minister of public works and government services and the youngest woman in Canadian history to be appointed a Cabinet minister (as environment minister in 2006, at the age of 36), replaces Aglukkaq in the health portfolio.
Monday's cabinet announcements also marked the first time a Canadian prime minister tweeted the appointments before the official ceremony.