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Prime Minister Trudeau shuffles his Cabinet

Published on
January 10, 2017

Prime Minister Trudeau shuffles his Cabinet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave his Cabinet a revamp this afternoon in a shuffle that saw 3 Ministers removed altogether, 3 shuffled to new roles and 3 promoted from the backbench. All this is following a turbulent end to 2016 that saw Trudeau’s Government dogged by ethics questions around cash-for-access fundraising and missteps on the Electoral Reform file.

The moves provided Trudeau an opportunity to pivot towards the new relationship with the United States at a time of international uncertainty, as well as promoting new blood and attempting to ameliorate certain roadblocks on the domestic policy front.  

The biggest change sees the departure of two of the most senior members of the Cabinet and Caucus: Stephane Dion, leaving politics for a yet unannounced pursuit, as well as John McCallum who is departing Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to become the Canadian Ambassador to China. McCallum and Dion were among the small handful of Ministers who had served in previous Liberal administrations prior to the Party regaining power after the 2015 election.

Dion out at Foreign Affairs, Freeland promoted

Dion has been a Member of Parliament since the March 1996 By-Election. He previously served as Intergovernmental Affairs Minister to Jean Chretien as well as Environment Minister to Paul Martin, where he oversaw Canada’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Dion was elected to lead the Liberal Party at it’s convention in December 2006, and did so until shortly after the party lost to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in 2008. Dion’s time as Foreign Affairs Minister was marred by controversy, as well as human rights concerns surrounding the 15 billion dollar arms deal the Government of Canada had made with Saudi Arabia. Though initially approved by the Harper Government, it was revealed that Dion had signed off on the Export Permits necessary to complete the transaction. 

Dion is being replaced by International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former author and editor-in-charge at Reuters news service. Freeland is seen as a valuable player to have on the file due to her extensive network of American contacts in finance, politics and industry from her time as a journalist based there. Freeland’s 2016 saw her negotiate the successful completion of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU). Freeland is being placed in the role at a moment where the relationship with the United States is on uncertain footing with the imminent inauguration of incoming President Donald Trump. What this could mean for certain international agreements such as the TPP and NAFTA is uncertain, especially considering Freeland’s department spent 2016 consulting widely on whether to ratify the TPP, while Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform to kill it.

McCallum was first elected in the 2000 Federal Election in the riding of Markham-Unionville, having previously been the Chief Economist at the Royal Bank of Canada and the Dean of Arts at McGill University. He served as Minister of National Defence in the Cabinet of Jean Chretien and then as Minister of Veteran Affairs in the Cabinet of Paul Martin.

McCallum is being replaced at Citizenship and Immigration by Ahmed Hussen a first-term MP, and the first Somali-Canadian to serve in the House of Commons. Hussen arrived in Canada in 1996 as a refugee from his native Somalia. Prior to entering Federal Politics, he worked as a human rights lawyer and activist in Regent Park, as well as serving as a special assistant to former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Monsef and Hajdu move to new roles, Parliamentary Secretaries promoted

Maryann Mihychuk is out from Employment, Workforce and Labour, a move many telegraphed this summer when several of the Department’s responsibilities regarding Employment Insurance and training initiatives were transferred to her counterpart Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development. Mihychuk is a first term MP from Manitoba and had previously been a Winnipeg School Board Trustee and Provincial Cabinet Minister in the NDP Manitoba Government prior to her entry into Federal Politics.

Patty Hajdu is taking Mihychuk’s place at Employment, Workforce and Labour. The first term MP from Ontario impressed in her outgoing role as Minister for Status of Women on furthering the implementation of Gender Based Analysis across Government. She also collaborated with Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Canada on the bank NOTE-able campaign, and worked jointly with Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on setting up the framework for the Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

Maryam Monsef is moving to Status of Women from Democratic Institutions. Monsef was the subject of wide scale criticism from opposition parties and the media for her handling of the Electoral Reform file in 2016 and the work to implement the Prime Minister’s election promise to review the current First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system.

Moving to the Democratic Institutions file is Karina Gould, who is receiving a promotion from her role as Parliamentary Secretary to International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. Gould is a first term MP from Ontario, and prior to her election she had served as a consultant to the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C., as well as working as a trade and development analyst in her riding of Burlington.

Francois-Phillipe Champange is taking over the International Trade portfolio from Chystia Freeland. Champange is a first term MP from Quebec and was a lawyer/businessman prior to his election. He was viewed to have performed strongly as Parliamentary Secretary to Finance Minister Bill Morneau on files including the rollout of the Canada Child Benefit, the agreement with the Provinces around reforming the Canada Pension Plan, and the passage of Bill C-2 implementing the Government’s “Middle Class Tax Cut”, which was seen as a cornerstone of the Liberal election campaign. 

What we are doing

Sussex is now reaching out to the Ministers in question to create new links, as well as affirm existing ones with their respective Departments so we can continue to serve and deliver results for you. As always, your Sussex Federal Government Relations team is here to answer any questions and address any issues you may have regarding the shuffle and transition within these Departments.

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