Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will shape a new cabinet for the minority Parliament with increased focus on the green economy and climate change, sources say.
Liberal and government insiders who have knowledge of the discussions say Mr. Trudeau will also strengthen the Intergovernmental Affairs department in a bid to address Western grievances and the divide between rural and urban Canada.
Mr. Trudeau is in a different situation than when the Liberals came to power in 2015 with a majority government and representation from across the country. This time he has a minority, no representation in Alberta or Saskatchewan, and will have to negotiate with opposition parties to implement his agenda, including a tax cut for the middle-class.
The sources, to whom The Globe and Mail has granted confidentiality to speak about the cabinet, which will be sworn in on Nov. 20, said no final decisions have been made on the composition and size of the cabinet.
But they said seven portfolios will play key roles in helping Canada adapt to the rapidly expanding global green economy and create jobs in clean energy: Finance; Global Affairs; Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Environment; Natural Resources; Intergovernmental Affairs; and Justice.
The Liberals committed during the election campaign to act on clean fuel standards, the phase-out of coal, electric vehicles, green finance, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
A senior government official who was not authorized to speak publicly about cabinet decision-making said there is a large consensus in the country about the importance of fighting climate change and diversifying the economy. The Greens and the NDP have similar environmental policies as the Liberals, and the Bloc Québécois would likely support some of the environmental agenda.
A study by Clean Energy Canada says the green energy sector in this country has been growing faster than the rest of the economy, at 4.8 per cent compared with 3.6 per cent annually between 2010 and 2017. In 2017, clean energy accounted for 298,000 jobs and is on track to employ 559,400 Canadians by 2030.
Liberal insiders say they expect Finance Minister Bill Morneau to stay in the top economic post. They say he has the confidence of Bay Street and understands the importance of the green economy.
Innovation is the second-most important economic cabinet post. It is now held by Toronto-area MP Navdeep Bains, but Mr. Trudeau’s inner circle believes it should go to a Quebecker, insiders say. The province currently does not have a minister in a substantial economic portfolio. Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne is said by the insiders to be in line for Innovation. He is an international trade lawyer with overseas business experience.
Liberal insiders say Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland could move to Intergovernmental Affairs, as the federal government deals with regional tensions after the Oct. 21 federal election. Ms. Freeland was born and raised in Alberta and has been a strong performer in Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet.
The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan oppose Ottawa’s carbon tax, are demanding immediate completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and calling for reform of equalization payments. When energy company Encana Corp. announced last week that it was moving its corporate headquarters from Calgary to Denver, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blamed Mr. Trudeau and his policies.
Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio has not had a full-time minister since Dominic LeBlanc was diagnosed last April with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Mr. LeBlanc had treatment and the sources say he likely will return to cabinet in a less onerous job.
Sources said Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, an international lawyer, would be a good fit at Foreign Affairs, or in Justice, which has to handle environmental legal cases such as provincial challenges to the federal carbon tax. Insiders say Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson of Vancouver is a likely candidate for Environment.
Steven MacKinnon, who represents Gatineau and is a former national director of the Liberal Party, and veteran Ottawa MP David McGuinty, are under consideration for the role of House Leader, Liberal insiders say.
Mr. Trudeau said his new cabinet will still have the same number of men and women.