The latest developments on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle
Posted Jul 26, 2023 04:10:41 PM.
OTTAWA — Here are the latest developments on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle.
The Prime Minister’s Office says in a statement to reporters that more changes are still to come, after a new cabinet was announced today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also going to announce changes to cabinet committees in the coming weeks.
His office says that will include creating a National Security Council, which it describes as a new forum for ministers to address domestic and international security concerns.
David Pratt, the first vice-chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, says outgoing Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller did a “exemplary job” on the file.
He says he hopes the new minister, Gary Anandasangaree, has the same motivation and desire to build meaningful relationships.
Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron says the same, adding that Anandasangaree is already familiar with the files because of his previous work.
Pratt and Caron both say the priority moving forward is for the new minister to dive into the files as quickly as possible, so there is no delay in efforts to make progress for Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson received a new addition to his title: minister of energy.
Wilkinson says the new title sends a message to all Canadians and underlines the critical nature of the current conversation around energy and how the government addresses climate change while building a strong economy.
Wilkinson says energy is a priority for the Liberal government and building an economy that’s going to be strong.
He says it’s an inclusive word that speaks to everything from offshore wind in Nova Scotia to battery production in Ontario to carbon capture and hydrogen in Alberta.
Canadian Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge says she will make sure the local media and cultural industry thrives.
The new minister says she will ensure people have news and journalism available so that they can be well informed, and so Canada’s democracy remains strong.
She says her predecessor Pablo Rodriguez did a great job on the file, passing both the Online News Act and the Online Streaming Act, which aim to regulate digital tech companies.
Rodriguez is now minister of transport.
Sean Fraser spoke to reporters after being sworn in as housing and infrastructure minister.
He says the new file will allow the federal government to better address housing needs by taking into consideration the infrastructure communities need as well.
Fraser, who was previously immigration minister, also spoke about the impact higher population growth is having on the housing market.
He notes the solution lies in building more housing rather than closing the door to new immigrants.
Jonathan Malloy, a political science professor at Carleton University, says it’s not unusual for a government that is halfway through its current mandate to make a big overhaul to its cabinet.
Malloy calls Trudeau’s Liberals an aging government that’s shaking in the polls, and says the prime minister is looking for fresh faces to carry its message forward.
He says that aside from the economy and housing, the shakeup also indicates a focus on national security.
Blake Brown, a historian at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, says it is likely helpful to have a public safety minister with a record of working successfully with the provinces.
Brown says LeBlanc is known for carrying files forward, and the decision to put him in the file shows the government wants a skilled hand in charge.
During an extended press conference at Rideau Hall featuring various ministers, LeBlanc dodged questions about a public inquiry on foreign interference.
He says the government will have more to say about it “at the right moment.”
Trudeau is standing at a microphone a few metres in front of his cabinet ministers, who are on the steps of Rideau Hall as the prime minister answers reporters’ questions.
He has not elaborated on why certain ministers have been dropped, despite being asked repeatedly.
Instead, he is painting his approach as a freshening of the ranks as Canadians face changing issues.
Some loud birds are repeatedly squawking, causing some ministers to giggle.
Trudeau and his new cabinet are posing for a “family photo” in the ballroom.
Reporters are waiting for the prime minister and clusters of ministers to speak with the press.
Ahmed Hussen’s new role as minister of international development comes after the Somalia-born Toronto MP made multiple visits to Africa on behalf of the Liberals government.
He made those visits while serving in largely unrelated roles as the minister for housing and the minister for immigration before that.
The Liberals have been working for more than a year on an Africa strategy, but with a focus on engaging more with the continent beyond giving aid, to increase trade and diplomatic initiatives.
The last cabinet minister, Arif Virani, was sworn in, finishing up an oath-taking process that took about an hour.
The prime minister, Governor General and Clerk of the Privy Council then signed the oath books as formal witnesses.
As the ceremony concluded, guests stood to listen to the national anthem performed in a mix of English, Ojibwa and French.
University of Ottawa adjunct professor and housing expert Carolyn Whitzman says the decision to combine housing and infrastructure into one file is a good move.
She says housing is infrastructure.
She is also praising the choice to appoint Sean Fraser to the file, noting he is a good communicator.
Whitzman says his experience on the immigration file may also help inform his new role, as record population growth puts upward pressure on housing prices.
The swearing-in ceremony continues at Rideau Hall.
Anita Anand gets roaring applause from the room as she takes on the role of president of the Treasury Board.
The current ministers receiving a new role have almost all been sworn in, while those newly joining the Privy Council about to take their oaths.
Marie-Claude Bibeau arrived to be sworn in wearing a bandage around her right knee and walking with a slight limp.
The ministers each read their oath in one or both of the official languages before shaking hands and posing for an official photo with the prime minister and Governor General. The room is silent as they walk over to a table to sign an official document, and there are often awkward chuckles.
A baby could be heard wailing at various points of the ceremony.
The swearing-in is underway, starting with Dominic LeBlanc.
There were chuckles from his fellow ministers as he ended his oath with an emphasis on the closing phrase: “so help me God.”
Most of the seven ministers keeping their portfolios are also in the room watching the ceremony.
Those hanging on to their current jobs are Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, Women and Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.
The new cabinet has entered the room and taken their seats in the front rows, and ministers’ new titles have been announced.
Arif Virani will move from the backbenches to take over as justice minister and Attorney General.
The other new ministers include Gary Anandasangaree, who takes over Crown-Indigenous Relations, Terry Beech, who is in a new portfolio called citizens’ services, and Tourism Minister Soraya Martinez Ferrada.
Ya’ara Saks joins the front benches as minister for mental health and addictions, Jenna Sudds is families minister and Rechie Valdez will head up the small business department.
There are some big changes among the remaining ministers, too, with Anita Anand becoming president of the Treasury Board and Bill Blair taking over her old job as national defence minister.
Mark Holland is health minister and Jean-Yves Duclos becomes minister of public services and procurement, while Sean Fraser is now housing minister and Marc Miller takes on the immigration file.
Dominic LeBlanc is adding public safety to his portfolios of democratic institutions and intergovernmental affairs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford and senior adviser Ben Chin have entered the ballroom.
Also present are senior PMO staff such as Brian Clow, chief of the defence staff Gen. Wayne Eyre and a number of ministerial staffers.
The room hushed for a minute before the band started to play another song. The room is now chattering and mostly full, except for the rows near the front, where seats have a blank white business card.
The ballroom at Rideau Hall is about half full with relatives and significant others of ministers and MPs who are widely expected to join cabinet imminently.
People are trickling in by the minute as a live band is heard over the chatter in the neighbouring room.
People are taking selfies in both rooms.
At the back of the ballroom, a woman is lighting a traditional Inuit lamp called a qulliq.
Trudeau has entered Rideau Hall.
A reporter asks about the significance of the shuffle for the Liberal government and the prime minister says it’s a “great day.”
Cabinet ministers who have not been spotted entering the Governor General’s residence include Justice Minister David Lametti and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, who is attending a conference.
A seventh Liberal MP who is not currently in cabinet he arrived at Rideau Hall — Gary Anandasangaree of Toronto.
Other MPs who have arrived at Rideau Hall and are not already sitting cabinet ministers include Terry Beech, Ya’ara Saks, Rechie Valdez and Arif Virani.
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan, Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser and Families Minister Karina Gould are also present.
The list of cabinet ministers who have arrived at Rideau Hall has grown, including: Anita Anand, Marc Miller, Marie-Claude Bibeau, Kamal Khera, Jonathan Wilkinson, Pablo Rodriguez, Jean-Yves Duclos, Mélanie Joly and Marci Ien.
Current government House leader Mark Holland also arrived, along with Trade Minister Mary Ng, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.
Officials say all sitting cabinet ministers have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony for new ministers, meaning not all of those arriving at Rideau Hall will be assigned new roles.
Ottawa MP Jenna Sudds and Montreal MP Soraya Martinez Ferrada, both of whom do not currently sit in cabinet, have arrived at Rideau Hall.
So have two ministers from New Brunswick — Dominic LeBlanc, who is currently in charge of intergovernmental affairs, and Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, who has the official languages file.
Sports Minister Pascal St-Onge has also arrived.
Various current ministers have arrived at Rideau Hall ahead of a cabinet shuffle that is expected to involve changes to a large proportion of Trudeau’s front bench.
Those who have arrived so far include National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair.
As is custom, many have arrived with family members.
Television cameras are set up around the front of Rideau Hall, and reporters are asking some of the arrivals to comment on their new roles, with little success.
Outgoing Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has confirmed his ouster from cabinet with a statement posted on Twitter.
Mendicino says he is proud of the work he accomplished while serving in Trudeau’s cabinet for the past four years, first on the immigration file and then on public safety.
Mendicino recently faced harsh criticism for his office’s handling of the recent prison transfer of serial killer Paul Bernardo.
He says he has every intention to run as a Liberal candidate in the next federal election.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 26, 2023.
The Canadian Press