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Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan seen moving to cabinet to replace Judy Foote

Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan, who represents the riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, is expected to replace Ms. Foote as Newfoundland’s representative in the federal cabinet, an insider said.

Paul Daly/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to name Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan to the federal cabinet as early as Thursday to fill the post that was left vacant when Newfoundland's Judy Foote took an indefinite leave of absence as minister of public works in April.

Ms. Foote is expected to officially announce Thursday that she will be giving up her cabinet seat because of family and health issues, a Liberal Party source said.

Mr. O'Regan, who represents the riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl, is expected to replace Ms. Foote as Newfoundland's representative in the federal cabinet, an insider said.

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For subscribers: Mini cabinet shuffle looms in Ottawa ahead of bigger changes in 2018

A former host of CTV's Canada AM, Mr. O'Regan is a close personal friend of Mr. Trudeau and vacationed with the Prime Minister and his family in the Bahamas last Christmas.

Last year, Mr. O'Regan underwent treatment for alcoholism and has remained sober since his release from the 40-day program.

A government insider said the Prime Minister wanted a Newfoundland and Labrador minister in place to represent the province when the federal cabinet meets in St. John's on September 11-13 to map out the fall sitting of Parliament.

It is not known whether Mr. O'Regan will be given the public-works portfolio that was held by Ms. Foote or another post, which would require a movement of other ministers.

Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr has been filling in as public works minister during Ms. Foote's absence. The department is currently handling major files such as the beleaguered Phoenix pay system and stalled procurements such as the purchase of an interim fleet of Boeing fighter jets.

The mini-shuffle will allow the government to hold off on major changes to its ministry and its legislative agenda until 2018, when the Liberals will have finished the first half of their mandate.

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The issue of gender parity could affect the number of changes that will be required, as Mr. Trudeau has pledged to have a gender-balanced cabinet. The cabinet is currently made up of 15 female and 15 male members, including Mr. Trudeau.

Replacing Ms. Foote with Mr. O'Regan would tilt the balance toward men.

With files from Daniel Leblanc

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