In a major cabinet shuffle on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted seven rookies to his front bench, dropped seven ministers, and reassigned the majority of cabinet roles.
In a ceremony at Rideau Hall, presided over by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Trudeau orchestrated one of, if not the most consequential reconfigurations to his cabinet since 2015.
Among the highest-profile reassignments are Anita Anand being bumped from defence to become Treasury Board president. Former police chief and emergency preparedness point-man Bill Blair replaces Anand as minister of defence, taking on the high-profile international cabinet post amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and continued defence spending pressures.
Taking on the re-prioritized housing file at a time of affordability concerns is Sean Fraser, who moves from immigration to become minister of housing, infrastructure and communities.
Also picking up key economic roles are Randy Boissonnault, who is now the minister of employment, workforce development, but also official languages minister; and Mary Ng who has a similar portfolio to what she held a day ago, now formally titled as minister of export promotion, international trade and economic development.
Trudeau’s close ally and longtime friend Dominic LeBlanc becomes public safety, democratic institutions, and intergovernmental affairs minister, seeing him maintain his relationships with the provinces and the ongoing foreign interference public inquiry negotiations, while adding in responsibility for key gun control legislation and RCMP reform.
President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand takes the oath of office as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
In a move many predicted, Pablo Rodriguez becomes transport minister tasked with ensuring Canadian travellers are well-treated by Canadian air and rail services, while maintaining the Quebec lieutenant role, while Pascale St-Onge takes over the minister of Canadian heritage portfolio.
This will make the first out lesbian in cabinet Trudeau’s new lead on some hot online platform policies, including the ongoing debacle over implementing online news regulations following the passage of Bill C-18. Heritage is a file sources close to St-Onge have said she’s interested in and fits as a next step following her time overseeing the sport portfolio.
Jean-Yves Duclos becomes minister of public services and procurement, and taking over the health file is outgoing House leader Mark Holland. Karina Gould is the new leader of the government in the House of Commons, poised to lead the Liberals in the Chamber, a key role during question period.
Trudeau announced that when Gould takes parental leave this winter, given she’s expecting her second child, Chief Government Whip Steven MacKinnon will take over as House leader until she returns, and current deputy whip Ruby Sahota will fill in for MacKinnon.
Jonathan Wilkinson is now Canada’s minister of energy but maintains the natural resources portion of his title. Similarly, Seamus O’Regan maintains his minister of labour role, but has been given the additional responsibility of minister of seniors.
As for other Atlantic Canadians given new roles: Gudie Hutchings holds her role as minister of rural economic development, while adding in responsibility for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Lawrence MacAulay becomes agriculture and agri-food minister, and Ginette Petitpas Taylor takes over for MacAulay as veterans affairs minister and associate minister of national defence.
Harjit Sajjan becomes King’s Privy Council president and the minister of emergency preparedness, where his past military experience will be tapped into as Canada continues to evolve its natural disaster response plans and respond to a devastating wildfire season. He also becomes the minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.
Fellow B.C. minister and Paralympian Carla Qualtrough becomes minister of sport and physical activity, picking back up a file she’s previously held.
Close Trudeau ally Marc Miller becomes minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, after years spent building relationships with Indigenous communities. Ahmed Hussen has been dropped from housing and becomes minister of international development. Picking up the diversity, inclusion, and persons with disabilities files is Kamal Khera.
A few other ministers who have held their roles over successive previous shuffles are also on the move: Marie-Claude Bibeau becomes Canada’s minister of national revenue, aka the minister responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency.
And, former CRA minister Diane Lebouthillier is now the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian coast guard. Should there be further findings regarding the ill-fated Titan submersible, expect this francophone minister to front those questions.
SEVEN ROOKIES IN, SEVEN MINISTERS OUT
As senior government sources confirmed ahead of Wednesday’s shuffle, seven ministers are out of cabinet: Omar Alghabra, Joyce Murray, Helena Jaczek, Carolyn Bennett, Marco Mendicino, David Lametti, and Mona Fortier.
These departures have paved the way for the prime minister to promote several backbench Liberal MPs from key battleground ridings in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.
Mississauga-Streetsville MP Rechie Valdez arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, July 26, 202. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
The seven rookie MPs who have clinched cabinet posts are
- Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont. MP Gary Anandasangaree, who becomes minister of Crown-Indigenous relations after serving as a parliamentary secretary and a Liberal MP since 2015;
- Parkdale-High Park, Ont. MP Arif Virani, who was first elected in 2015, and now has a major new role: Canada’s minister of justice and attorney general, picking up several bills left by Lametti before the House;
- Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C. MP Terry Beech, who has also been in the House since 2015, now gets a brand new title, becoming the minister of citizens’ services;
- Hochelaga, Que. MP Soraya Martinez Ferrada, becomes minister of tourism and is responsible for the Quebec economic development agency. She was first elected in 2019;
- York Centre, Ont. MP Ya’ara Saks, first elected in a 2020 byelection becomes minister of mental health and addictions, holding on to a role held by a nearby former minister Bennett;
- Kanata-Carleton, Ont. MP Jenna Sudds, first elected in 2021 becomes minister of families, children and social development, picking up the Ottawa-area vacancy left by Fortier’s cabinet departure; and
- Mississauga-Streetsville, Ont. MP Rechie Valdez, first elected in 2021 as Canada’s first Filipina MP, becomes minister of small business.
While four of the outgoing ministers have announced they aren’t running again, Fortier and Lametti have yet to speak about their plans after being booted from cabinet.
In a statement posted to social media Wednesday morning, Mendicino—who was at the centre of shuffle chatter over his handling of hot files—said it had been “an honour” to serve as a minister in the immigration and public safety portfolios for nearly four years, and said he plans to stick around as the Liberal MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.
“Those who know me well know that politics is in my blood… I have every intention of continuing to serve for the remainder of this mandate, and into the next election,” Mendicino said.
“To my cabinet and caucus colleagues, it remains a privilege to work with you. The seating arrangements may move around in the House of Commons from time to time, but we are family and committed to the same cause.”
JUST 8 MINISTERS MAINTAIN ROLES
A sign of just how seismic Trudeau’s cabinet reconfiguration is, only eight ministers were left untouched:
Francois-Philippe Champagne, left to right, Chrystia Freeland and Mary Ng arrive for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
- Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland;
- Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne;
- Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly;
- Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault;
- Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu;
- Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien;
- Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal, who also oversees Prairie economic development; and
- Minister Filomena Tassi who is responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Trudeau arrived to oversee the major federal political event of the summer, calling it “a great day.”
Similarly, as Liberals arrived to a spray of television cameras and political reporters, few said much about what awaited them inside, though a few indicated that it was a good morning and were looking forward to their new roles.
Trudeau’s entire top tier was invited to attend the ceremony at the governor general’s residence, regardless of if they were on the move. The shuffle is likely to also trigger machinery of government changes such as changes to certain ministers’ titles or portfolio responsibilities, as well as a considerable staffing shakeup.
“We are ready to keep delivering on the things that matter most to you – making life more affordable, growing the economy, and creating good jobs for the middle class. We have the right team, made up of accomplished people who reflect the diversity and talent of our country. Together, we will keep building a strong future for the middle class, and for all Canadians,” Trudeau said in a statement detailing every title change.
WHY SHUFFLE NOW?
A senior government source told CTV News that Trudeau and his inner circle have looked at this shuffle as “fortifying” the prime minister’s economic team around issues such as housing affordability and the clean energy transition, to present a clear contrast to their main Conservative opponents when it comes to how they view and communicate on these issues.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
It’s also been widely discussed that elevating high-performers into key posts today may help the Liberals, after eight years in power, present a refreshed face to make the case to the Canadian public that they’re re-electable.
Wednesday’s changes have not changed the size of the cabinet, with 38 members—19 men and 19 women— in the gender-balanced cabinet, not counting the prime minister.
This shakeup is the first major change since the Liberals’ 2021 election win, and the prime minister is hoping with these changes to lock in the team he will lead into the next election, currently slated for 2025.
The prime minister will speak to media following the shuffle, at 12:15 p.m. EDT and lead a 4 p.m. EDT cabinet meeting Wednesday afternoon with the new roster, in West Block.
Then, it’ll be on the new and reassigned ministers to get down to work on the refocused promises Trudeau mandates them to prioritize, and prepare for the September return of Parliament.
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