Justin Trudeau would be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland if he was unable to do his job, according to an official order released amid questions about how the government would respond if the Prime Minister were to contract COVID-19.
The Privy Council quietly published the Order in Council last Friday, one day after Mr. Trudeau announced that he would be self-isolating at his residence because his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Mr. Trudeau is following the advice of his doctor in not getting himself tested for the virus, as he is not showing any symptoms.
“The Prime Minister is feeling well. And he’s keeping extremely busy working from home, as you know, starting his day with a G7 leaders call and making a major announcement today. And as you know, yesterday, he did two interviews, spoke with two world leaders, and held a cabinet meeting,” Mr. Trudeau’s spokesperson, Cameron Ahmad, said an e-mail Monday.
However, Mr. Ahmad did not say how sick Mr. Trudeau would have to be in order for him to be considered “unable to perform the functions of his office,” as outlined in the Order in Council.
The legal order lists, in order of priority, cabinet ministers who would be authorized to act on behalf of Mr. Trudeau if he were unable to do his job.
Ms. Freeland is listed first, followed by Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, and Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Privy Council. Mr. Leblanc has a weakened immune system from undergoing treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
The order also outlines the backup plan for replacing ministers in the case where they are unable to do their jobs. Ms. Freeland, who has acted as Mr. Trudeau’s second hand while he is self-isolating amid the COVID-19 outbreak, would be replaced by Mr. Leblanc, who would in turn be followed by Finance Minister Bill Morneau if necessary.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu would be backed up by Ms. Bennett, who is a trained family physician, and then Seniors Minister Deb Schulte. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne’s role would be filled by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, followed by International Development Minister Karina Gould.
The Privy Council normally releases these kinds of orders following federal elections and cabinet shuffles. However, there has been no order of the kind published since the October, 2019 election, as the last order was released in April, 2019.
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