The Top Line
This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau conducted a very limited Cabinet shuffle with two Ministers trading portfolios. Filomena Tassi has been appointed Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and Helena Jaczek has been appointed Minister of Public Services and Procurement. The shuffle came after a request by Minister Tassi for a reduced travel schedule, due to a family health matter.
Minister Jaczek, who has cabinet experience as a Liberal Minister in Ontario (see selected biography below), will now assume a more prominent and influential role in the federal cabinet. The Public Services and Procurement portfolio deals with many key issues for the government, such as procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, military procurement, management of federal property (including decisions regarding surplus buildings, with more public servants working from home), and procurement of clean technologies to meet the government’s commitments to greening federal operations.
Today’s shuffle was ultimately more important for what didn’t occur than what did. The Prime Minister could have executed a more significant shuffle, for example by asking any Ministers who don’t plan to run in the next election to step down. That he didn’t do so shows the Liberals will stick to their current policy agenda through the coming session of Parliament, with the same key spokespeople, and it further signals that the likelihood of a federal election in the short term is low.
Looking Further Ahead
In that context, stakeholders should expect a continuation of the legislative agenda that the government has pursued since election in 2021 when Parliament resumes sitting on September 19th, 2022. Major outstanding legislation that will be addressed in the coming months includes broadcasting and online streaming reform, firearms control, and implementing the Digital Charter for online privacy. Outside the House of Commons, the Liberals will continue to emphasize progressive priorities like climate action, housing affordability, and reconciliation with First Nations.
In the immediate term, the Liberals will hold a Cabinet retreat starting this weekend in Vancouver and a full Caucus retreat in New Brunswick from September 11th to 14th, 2022. Information flowing from those gatherings should offer more detail about Liberal priorities for the fall and a sense of caucus attitudes as the Trudeau government soon heads into its eighth year in power.
Meanwhile, the next Conservative Party leader will be announced in Ottawa on September 10th, 2022. That person will bring a changed approach to the Leader of the Official Opposition role, which will ultimately influence the Liberal Party’s messaging, policy priorities, and key cabinet members in the longer term.
Appendix: Selected Biography of the Honourable Helena Jaczek
- Holds a Medical Degree and Masters of Health Science from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Business Administration from York University.
- Was a physician in Toronto and then the York Region Chief Medical Officer of Health.
- Elected as Ontario Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament for Oak Ridges-Markham in 2007, 2011, and 2014.
- Served as Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services (2014 – 2018), Chair of Cabinet (2018), and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care (2018).
- Elected as Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville in 2019 and 2021.
- Previously served on the Boards of Reena, a non-profit providing services to people with developmental disabilities, and the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care.
- Recognized with the Distinguished Service Award by the Association of Local Public Health Agencies, the IN Celebration of Women Award by York Region, the Helen Keller Award by the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, the Ontario Psychological Association Public Service Award, and others honors.