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The federal cabinet stands behind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he speaks at a news conference after a swearing in ceremony, in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Prime Minister is expected to announce new cabinet appointments Wednesday after four federal ministers announced they would not be seeking re-election, on July 24 and 25.Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will unveil a major cabinet shakeup on Wednesday that will see at least seven existing ministers removed from his front bench and new faces join his key decision-making circle.

UPDATE: Trudeau unveils significant cabinet shuffle with several new ministers brought on board

Mr. Trudeau, who is now two years into his second minority mandate, is making the sweeping changes after a challenging sitting of the House of Commons that saw his government repeatedly on the defensive, including on foreign interference in Canadian politics.

The cabinet shuffle will include Defence Minister Anita Anand, seen as one of the government’s top performers, moving to an economic portfolio, according to a Liberal government source who The Globe and Mail is not identifying as they are not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations.

The source also said that Justice Minister David Lametti, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier will be leaving cabinet. Pablo Rodriguez, currently Heritage Minister, will take over the transport file, while Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge will move into heritage, according to the source.

Ahead of the shuffle, Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett also publicly announced that they will not be running in an upcoming election. Mr. Alghabra said that his decision means that he is also leaving the front bench.

The departures of the cabinet ministers mean key changes involving some high-profile and critical government files. As Public Safety Minister, for example, Mr. Mendicino was responsible for significant issues, including foreign interference, gun control and managing the invocation of the federal Emergencies Act. Mr. Alghabra juggled files including turmoil at airports after the easing of pandemic measures, as well as rewriting the rules on passenger rights. Mr. Lametti has faced scrutiny over delays in appointing judges.

Wednesday’s shuffle amounts to a massive rebuild of Mr. Trudeau’s front bench and an acknowledgement that new blood is required on his team. The Prime Minister is set to conduct his first cabinet meeting with his new ministers on Wednesday afternoon following a swearing-in ceremony in the morning at Rideau Hall.

Political insiders have underscored the need for a considerable reset now while the Liberals try to fend off support for the Conservatives under Pierre Poilievre.

A second senior government official said the Trudeau government, with its new cabinet, will put a greater emphasis on the economy, especially housing, affordability and green-energy policies. The Globe and Mail is not identifying the official who is not authorized to speak publicly.

The departures in cabinet involve some ministers with controversial tenures.

Mr. Mendicino, who is a Toronto MP, has been a major source of negative attention for the Liberals in recent weeks after it came to light last month that notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo was transferred from a maximum-security to a medium-security institution, sparking outrage from his victims’ families. Mr. Mendicino has been unable to explain why staff in his office did not inform him about the transfer, even though they were alerted by the Correctional Service of Canada about the move three months before it happened. The Conservatives have called for Mr. Mendicino to resign.

The Public Safety Minister has also faced questions in other areas of his portfolio, such as why he said the federal Emergencies Act was invoked on the advice of law enforcement while police officials said they did not make such a recommendation to the government.

Mr. Lametti, who was first elected in 2015 as the MP for LaSalle–Émard–Verdun and who has served as Justice Minister and Attorney General since 2019, has faced criticism over his failure to appoint judges to federal-appointed courts quickly enough and for the government’s delay in reforming Canada’s bail system . In June, Conservative MP Frank Caputo also accused Mr. Lametti of sending an e-mail that threatened his professional reputation.

The increase in spending on government outsourcing has been a top issue during the tenure of Ms. Jaczek, the Minister for Public Services and Procurement who represents the riding of Markham-Stouffville. The Globe and Mail reported last November that Ottawa’s annual spending on outsourcing climbed by 74 per cent since 2015, with total spending on outsourcing, which is officially described as professional and special services, reaching $14.6-billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Ms. Fortier, a Franco-Ontarian MP who represents the riding of Ottawa-Vanier, was first elected in 2017 and was appointed to cabinet in 2019. She has been a key player in Liberal circles for many years, such as when she co-chaired the national Liberal platform committee for the 2019 and 2021 campaigns. She was recently involved in acrimonious negotiations with the striking federal public service union. She is expected to run again in an upcoming election.

Speaking at news conference Tuesday in Hay River, N.W.T., NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said the cabinet shuffle is not going to undo the fact that government had had years respond to various crises, including on climate, cost of living and housing.

“What I hope to see is that Justin Trudeau starts taking these crises seriously, and starts responding with the urgency required,” he said, adding his party intends to use the “power” in its agreement with the Liberals to advance its priorities.

Robert Asselin, a senior vice-president at the Business Council of Canada who specializes in economic policy and previously served as an adviser to Prime Ministers Martin and Trudeau, said the economy remains the top priority now for almost all Canadians as they face a very difficult period of high inflation and very slow growth.

He said that beyond changes in portfolios, he will be looking for a “change of direction” and a signal from the government that it grasps the importance of long-term growth and the need to shift toward an intentional, long-term plan for growing the economy.

Sabrina Grover, a 2021 Liberal candidate in Calgary Centre and principal at Shakti Strategies, said the cabinet shuffle amounts to an opportunity for the government to home in on the affordability and housing crisis, and to put in new faces that will be able to take on the Conservative opposition in advance of the next election.

“The government has done a really good job in laying down solid policy. But I’m not sure that they have been able to necessarily launch a good counterattack on the Conservatives,” she said.

“It’s a good opportunity to do a reset and to put the right people in for what’s going to be a lift on the economic side.

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