Nicholson named Opposition whip in Conservative shakeup
St. Catharines Standard – Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Niagara Falls MP Rob Nicholson is moving up the ranks in the Conservative party caucus.

Following the announced retirement of Conservative House leader John Reynolds, a shuffle of the portfolios has moved Nicholson from transport critic to chief Opposition whip.

“I’ll help out in any way I can for the party,” Nicholson said Tuesday from a Conservative caucus retreat in Victoria, B.C. “It’s a new challenge for me.

“I’ve been fortunate in our parliamentary system to take on a number of different roles.”

Nicholson said Opposition leader Stephen Harper phoned him a couple of days ago asking if he would be willing to take on the new job.

Nicholson is now responsible for communications within the caucus and ensuring members are informed of key votes.

In a party that professes the value of free votes for its members, Nicholson’s role isn’t so much making sure everybody makes the same choice, but at least ensuring they have the details of the vote and perhaps determining where they stand.

His first big test will likely come with the vote on same-sex marriages.

“Our position on that is that it’s a free vote,” he said. “Each member will decide for him or herself, and that’s the way it should be.

“My job will be to make sure they know when and where."

Reynolds, MP for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, was House leader until he announced Monday that he would not stand in the next election. He has been appointed by Harper as national chair for the Conservative election campaign.

His pending retirement has set off a chain reaction of changes within the Conservative caucus.

Jay Hill, Prince George-Peace River MP, takes over as House leader, with Nicholson filling Hill’s old role as whip.

Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis has been named deputy critic for seniors’ issues and James Moore, MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam, will assume the critic duties of transport and amateur sport on an interim basis on top of his public works critic portfolio.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Nicholson said. “It’s another expression of confidence (Harper has) shown in me and I appreciate it.

“It’s a minority Parliament, so votes are more critical than they usually are.”

Nicholson was science minister with responsibility for small business in the Kim Campbell government of 1993.