*New industry minister faces heavy workload
*Paradis struggles in English, has low profile
*Minister comes from Quebec, where Conservatives did badly
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, May 18 Canada's new industry minister,
Christian Paradis, is a cautious low-profile politician with
little experience handling the tricky files he will now face.
Paradis was named to his new post in a cabinet shuffle on
Wednesday. He had spent the previous 16 months as the minister
of natural resources, where he rarely made headlines.
The 37-year-old lawyer is one of only five legislators the
governing Conservatives have from the politically important,
predominantly French-speaking, province of Quebec and as such
was almost guaranteed a good job.
"Perhaps his profile in Quebec is higher, and that would be
something the government needs," said James Farney, a political
studies professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.
Paradis, who sometimes struggles with his English, now has
a heavy workload. First, he must decide whether to approve a
proposal by the London Stock Exchange (LSE.L) to buy TMX Group
(X.TO), the operator of the Toronto Stock Exchange.
If he turns it down, critics will accuse him of betraying
the government's pro-market principles. If he approves it, he
is likely to be castigated for letting a Canadian entity pass
into the hands of foreigners.
The industry minister is also responsible for reforming the
telecommunications sector. The government says it wants most of
its new policy on whether to lift foreign ownership limits in
the industry to be ready by the end of the year.
Tony Clement, who preceded Paradis in the job, said the
investment policy would have to be twinned with a decision on
how to proceed with a planned auction of wireless spectrum,
provisionally set for late next year.
Asked about foreign ownership in the telecommunications
industry, Paradis told reporters on Wednesday: "We have to keep
the direction that was taken. We have to favorize (sic) the
investment here always in the best interests of Canadians."
UBS analyst Phillip Huang said the appointment of Paradis
might delay the both the review and the spectrum auction.
"Mr. Paradis may need time to acquire up-to-date knowledge
of the sector, and may also prioritize and approach his new
files differently," he wrote in a note to clients.
Clement was a heavy hitter and he enjoyed the respect of
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is known for keeping a tight
grip on his ministers. It is unclear whether Paradis will have
the same high profile.
"Realistically, the big stories on this file will be run
out of the prime minister's office," Farney said.
Paradis ran into trouble politically last year after it
emerged that a senior aide had interfered in the release of
access to information requests to reporters. The aide resigned
and Paradis shrugged off calls to do the same.
Opposition legislators were also unhappy that when Paradis
was federal public works minister in 2009, he discussed
government business with a construction executive at a
Conservative Party fund-raising event.
Christian Paradis was born on Jan. 1, 1974. He is married
with three children.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)