Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put new people in charge of virtually every ministry critical to his government’s agenda on Tuesday, changing the leadership at Defence, Environment, Health, Indigenous Services and Global Affairs, where Mélanie Joly got one of the more significant cabinet promotions.
Mr. Trudeau also chose to replace the leader of the government’s most difficult file in the past year: the Canadian Armed Forces.
By demoting Harjit Sajjan from Defence to International Development, Mr. Trudeau for the first time acknowledged that change was needed – something opposition parties have been calling for since the spring. The move follows nine months of chaos within the senior ranks of the Forces, with several in the top brass investigated for sexual misconduct.
A cabinet for a prime minister taking risks on his legacy
New faces in cabinet include six women and an MP from Alberta
In his place will be Anita Anand, who was in charge of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines in her previous role as minister of public services and procurement.
The Forces face a “crisis” in its culture, Mr. Trudeau told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday. “The women and men who serve in the Armed Forces deserve better support, deserve a shift in the kind of governance that they have.”
On key issues such as climate change and reconciliation, the government will take a more aggressive approach, the Prime Minister said.
Three ministers were moved out of cabinet: Marc Garneau, who had held the foreign-affairs portfolio; Bardish Chagger, who was the minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth; and Jim Carr, the former special representative for the Prairies.
Mr. Trudeau did not explain why he chose to drop those ministers, but acknowledged he had to make “difficult choices” to craft a “refreshed and reinvigorated team.”
Amid the multiple senior changes to the Liberal cabinet, Mr. Trudeau cemented Ms. Joly’s political comeback by putting her in one of the most senior posts in government. She is the government’s fifth Foreign Affairs Minister in six years.
The Liberals had high expectations for Ms. Joly when she was first elected in 2015 but she stumbled in her first portfolio at Heritage and was demoted to Tourism in 2018. Since then, she has been climbing back up the ranks, taking on economic development in 2019 and serving as the Liberal Party’s national campaign co-chair in the most recent election.
On some of the most important and contentious policy areas, Mr. Trudeau chose to promote from within cabinet.
He moved Steven Guilbeault from Heritage to Environment and Climate Change, Karina Gould from International Development to Families and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos from Treasury Board to Health, and Pablo Rodriguez from House Leader to Heritage. That department is responsible for proposed new laws covering the internet and social-media giants. Mr. Guilbeault struggled at times to defend the government’s contentious proposals in this area during the previous Parliament.
Mr. Guilbeault was a contender for the environment file after the 2019 election. However, as a staunch climate activist, Liberals viewed him as too divisive given the party’s losses in Alberta and Saskatchewan and national-unity concerns. Instead, Jonathan Wilkinson was appointed environment minister in Mr. Trudeau’s first minority government. In his new position as Natural Resources Minister, Mr. Wilkinson will stay active on the climate file.
Canadians can expect the government to “step up even more and faster on the fight against climate change,” the Prime Minister said Tuesday. Mr. Trudeau is heading to international climate talks in Glasgow later this week, where Mr. Guilbeault and Mr. Wilkinson will also attend. Among the top priorities is implementing the Liberal election promise to cap greenhouse-gas emissions from the oil-and-gas sector, Mr. Trudeau said.
The opposition Conservatives quickly jumped on Mr. Guilbeault’s appointment with MP Pierre Poilievre calling him a “looney-left Environment Minister.” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a “problematic” assignment and said the new minister’s track record suggests he is “more of an absolutist than a pragmatist.”
“We have constantly been surprised by ever more ambitious federal targets and prejudicial policies, which seem to be directed at impeding Alberta’s natural resource development,” Mr. Kenney said.
In his new file, Mr. Wilkinson is expected to work closely with the oil-and-gas sector and be responsible for key policy areas tied to the transition to a low-carbon economy, including electrifying critical industries and helping workers shift to new jobs.
The Prime Minister chose to keep his core economic team relatively stable, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Carla Qualtrough remains as Employment Minister, where she will oversee the government’s promised overhaul of the Employment Insurance system. Omar Alghabra is also staying at Transport, François-Philippe Champagne remains Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and Diane Lebouthillier continues as Revenue Minister.
Mona Fortier was promoted to Treasury Board President from her last role as minister of middle-class prosperity – a portfolio that was erased in the cabinet shuffle.
Ms. Freeland is expected to work closely with Mr. Duclos, as the two tackle the thorny issue of health care funding negotiations with the premiers. The pair also worked jointly in Mr. Duclos’ previous role as treasury board president and both were on the COVID-19 cabinet subcommittee created at the beginning of the pandemic.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole criticized the Prime Minister’s cabinet choices, saying in a statement that it shows the government is “not serious about addressing Canada’s economic challenges.”
“At a time when Canadians are looking for a serious plan to secure Canada’s economic future and address the inflation crisis, the Prime Minister appointed a group of largely inexperienced and ideologically driven individuals who represent a real risk to our economic prosperity and our national unity. This is yet another example of Justin Trudeau’s record of style over substance.” he said.
Outgoing health minister Patty Hajdu is taking over at Indigenous Services from Marc Miller who is replacing veteran MP Carolyn Bennett at Crown-Indigenous Relations. Ms. Bennett has been an MP since 1997 and faced calls to resign before the past election over a disparaging text message she sent to former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. She was shifted to a new cabinet post, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he wants to see “concrete actions” from the government on addressing issues such as sexual misconduct in the military and focusing on Indigenous priorities.
The Liberal government “must move past the empty words and symbolic gestures and get to work helping people. As a start, Justin Trudeau can drop the appeal against Indigenous kids, take bolder action on climate change and make sure Canadians have the pandemic supports they need – for as long as they need them.”
Mr. Trudeau added a number of new faces to his cabinet, including six women: Helena Jaczek, Kamal Khera, Gudie Hutchings, Pascale St-Onge, Marci Ien, and Ginette Petitpas Taylor. Government whip Mark Holland was promoted to House Leader and Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser is also a new face around the cabinet table as Immigration Minister. He is replacing Marco Mendicino who was shifted to Public Safety.
Randy Boissonnault, one of only two Liberals from Alberta and one of only a handful of MPs from the LGBTQ community, is the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance.
With reports from James Keller, Menaka Raman-Wilms and Kristy Kirkup.
The full list of cabinet appointments, according to a news release from the Prime Minister’s Office:
- Chrystia Freeland remains Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
- Omar Alghabra remains Minister of Transport
- Anita Anand becomes Minister of National Defence
- Carolyn Bennett becomes Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
- Marie-Claude Bibeau remains Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
- Bill Blair becomes President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
- Randy Boissonnault becomes Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
- François-Philippe Champagne becomes Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
- Jean-Yves Duclos becomes Minister of Health
- Mona Fortier becomes President of the Treasury Board
- Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
- Karina Gould becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
- Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- Patty Hajdu becomes Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
- Mark Holland becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
- Ahmed Hussen becomes Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
- Gudie Hutchings becomes Minister of Rural Economic Development
- Marci Ien becomes Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
- Helena Jaczek becomes Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
- Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Kamal Khera becomes Minister of Seniors
- David Lametti remains Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- Dominic LeBlanc becomes Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
- Diane Lebouthillier remains Minister of National Revenue
- Lawrence MacAulay remains Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
- Marco E.L. Mendicino becomes Minister of Public Safety
- Marc Miller becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
- Joyce Murray becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- Mary Ng becomes Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
- Seamus O’Regan Jr. becomes Minister of Labour
- Ginette Petitpas Taylor becomes Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Carla Qualtrough remains Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
- Pablo Rodriguez becomes Minister of Canadian Heritage and remains Quebec Lieutenant
- Harjit S. Sajjan becomes Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
- Pascale St-Onge becomes Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
- Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement
- Dan Vandal becomes Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
- Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Natural Resources
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