Abbotsford MP Ed Fast was named a member of cabinet in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority government on Wednesday morning.
Fast will serve as Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. It is his first cabinet posting.
“I’m pleased and honoured to take on a position in the prime minister’s cabinet,” Fast told The News.
He said his portfolio has two main objectives: Negotiating trade agreements and promoting Canadian business in other countries. He will immediately get to work on negotiating trade agreements with India and the European Union.
“It’s a big challenge,” he said.
Fast is Abbotsford’s only federal cabinet minister in recent memory. He was surprised when the prime minister called on him.
“There are so many eminently qualified people (MPs) in B.C. who could do this job,” he said. “It’s gratifying, but also humbling.”
Fast said his days will become a whirlwind of briefings and other activities.
“I’m getting ready to move on to this new chapter in my life.”
Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen was one of the first to acknowledge his federal counterpart.
“I want to congratulate him and wish him well. It’s great to have someone from Abbotsford in cabinet.”
He said Fast’s role in promoting trade could create some local synergies, and noted the Abbotsford International Airport and UFV are two local organizations working to create stronger international connections.
“I have worked with Ed, and he’s very thorough, very professional, and he’s done a very good job,” said van Dongen.
Fast is one of nine new faces in cabinet, and joins James Moore, John Duncan and Alice Wong as members from B.C.
“With a renewed mandate and a national majority, Canadians can count on this government to pursue measures that create jobs and growth, support seniors, protect our health-care system, fight against crime and reduce and eliminate the deficit,” said Harper in a press release.
“The new ministry is fundamentally about stability and continuity. It represents the right mix of experience and new blood. It is the right group of men and women to lead the job of keeping Canada moving forward towards greater prosperity,” added Harper.
The promotion gives Fast a raise from $158,000 per year to $233,000.