01/23/2015 03:07 EST | Updated 03/25/2015 05:59 EDT

NDP critics, parliamentary secretaries shuffle before House returns

The NDP is shaking up its shadow cabinet as it prepares for the general election later this year.

A handful of veteran MPs have announced they will not run for re-election this year, so Tom Mulcair is moving others into higher profiles roles.

Manitoba MP, NikiAshton will take over the First Nations portfolio from Jean Crowder, who will not run again.

Although Libby Davies remains NDP deputy leader, she is giving up her health critic job to Victoria MP Murray Rankin.

Prominent Quebec MP Guy Caron will take over the important energy and natural resources file to account for the departing Chris Charlton.

Some Toronto MPs are also getting more responsibility as the fight for the Ontario seats begins in earnest.

Andrew Cash will take on consumer protection issues. This critic portfolio was part of the role played by Glenn Thibeault, who recently left to run in a provincial byelection in Sudbury for the Ontario Liberals.

Matthew Kellway will look after infrastructure.

Ontario MP Claude Gravelle will take over official languages for YvonGodin, who also is not running again.

The moves come after the NDP made significant changes to its backroom to deal with poor performance in public opinion polls and a need to better prepare for the election campaign. 

Mulcair recently replaced his chief of staff and brought back long-time Jack Laytonadvisor Brad Lavigne to help the party prepare for the election.

Parliamentary secretaries switch

Friday afternoon also saw a small shuffle of responsibilities among Stephen Harper's parliamentary secretaries.

New Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole now has a new parliamentary secretary, as the renovations continue in that department. Eastern Ontario MP and veteran parliamentary secretary Pierre Lemieux switches from agriculture to work on veterans issues.

Gerald Keddy will add the agriculture responsibilities to his other parliamentary secretary roles in revenue and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Parm Gill is now the parliamentary secretary for international trade, taking over this role from Keddy.