Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making preparations to shuffle his cabinet, with the rejig of his front bench set to happen as early as Wednesday, senior government sources confirm to CTV News.
Trudeau is holding private meetings with ministers in Ottawa today, after rumours have swirled around the federal political scene for weeks that a summer shuffle was in the cards.
This impending shuffle is being framed as an attempt by the minority Liberals to reset their messaging on a few hot files after fall and spring sittings that saw intense political scrutiny over the government’s handling of issues such as housing affordability, public safety, and policies involving online platforms.
Over the weekend, a handful of ministerial announcements across the country scheduled for Monday were cancelled, presumably so the members of cabinet could travel back to the nation’s capital to meet with the prime minister ahead of the shuffle. Other ministers however, have maintained their Monday itineraries outside of Ottawa.
Among the ministers who called off announcements were Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen, and Minister of Official Languages and Minister Responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
One of the ministers whose event pressed ahead on Monday was Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault who, in announcing new conditions for allowing future fossil fuel subsidies, was asked how he feels about the looming shuffle.
“I serve at the pleasure of the prime minister of Canada. I’m here today making this announcement… I’m leaving for the G20. Unless my boss tells me that I’m no longer leaving for the G20, I’ll be heading there tonight to represent Canada as the environment and climate change minister for the country,” he said in response.
It is expected that ministers have communicated to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) their intentions to run again should an election be called. It’s likely that those who have signalled plans to not to re-offer will be shuffled out, opening up spots that could allow Trudeau to elevate high-performing members of his backbenches to cabinet before the next campaign, currently scheduled for 2025.
On Monday, longtime Liberal Carolyn Bennett announced that she will not be running for re-election, opening up a downtown Toronto riding for the next campaign. Bennett told reporters that she’d already met with Trudeau to tell him.
CTV News political commentator Scott Reid said this government is about midway through its current mandate, so moving to reset the deck now makes sense, and is likely to spark a knock-on effect to certain senior staffing positions.
He said barring future political shakeups, it could be the last substantial shuffle before the next vote so that ministers have some runway to make the progress the Liberals need on their outstanding commitments to the Canadian public.
“You would also expect that the prime minister probably moves some pieces around the board, tries to position himself stronger for electoral purposes,” Reid said on CTV News Channel. “Get some stronger communicators in front of the microphones and at more high-profile cabinet posts, that sort of thing is to be expected.”
The last time Trudeau made changes to his cabinet was in 2022, simply swapping the portfolios of Filomena Tassi and Helena Jaczek.
That tweak was the first time the prime minister shuffled his ministerial roster since he considerably shook up who was responsible for some key portfolios following the 2021 election that saw the Liberals hold on to power with a second minority government.
“The cabinet has been, and the government has been, under siege on a number of different files, lots of poor performing cabinet ministers that probably need some time out, and maybe an opportunity to allow for other people to step up,” said University of Windsor political science professor Lydia Miljan on CTV News Channel.
“I think that Trudeau really needs some fresh faces and some people around the table who can really sell the government because, you know, their poll numbers aren’t great. They continue to be losing at the expense of other parties, and it just feels, you know, given that they’ve been in power so long, they’re just feeling a little bit stale,” Miljan said.
There are currently 38 members in the gender-balanced cabinet, not counting the prime minister.
The timing of this expected shuffle comes ahead of an August cabinet retreat in P.E.I. and the return of Parliament in late September.
More to come…
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