Federal Cabinet Shuffle

The Top Line

Today’s Cabinet appointments recognize the challenges faced by Prime Minister Trudeau as he moves from governing in a majority environment to a minority.  The expanded Cabinet reflects the gender balance precedent the Prime Minister established in 2015. It also clearly reflects those Ministers who have proven they can handle difficult files and places them in portfolios where they are most needed.

The appointment of Chrystia Freeland as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs reflects the need of the Government to have what most consider its strongest performer leading a challenging domestic policy priority: ensuring the Government’s commitment to climate change is linked with the need to continue investing in Canada’s resources that are central to economic growth in the West.  In addition, Minister Freeland will continue to manage the ratification of the USMCA and oversee Canada-US relations, which reflects both the important role she has played on these files and its continued priority for the Government.

We can expect Minister Freeland to work closely with the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, and the new Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Reagan, as they work to balance these competing interests – meeting global emission targets while building a pipeline – that are central to whether this Government will be successful. It should be expected that the widely respected Jim Carr, who had served as Minister of International Trade and Minister of Natural Resources previously, will have significant input in these files as the Prime Minister’s special representative for the Prairies while he recovers from a recent cancer diagnosis.

Bill Morneau’s continued role as Minister of Finance will also be central as the Government remains committed to a fiscal policy focused on economic growth. Also important for the economy will be the new Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, responsible for ensuring Canada’s trade agenda continues to progress, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the reappointed Navdeep Bains, who will maintain the Government’s focus on innovation as the backbone of Canada’s future economic success.

The appointment of Jean-Yves Duclos as President of the Treasury Board and François-Philippe Champagne as Minister of Foreign Affairs will add to the top tier of Cabinet who will focus on the largest challenges facing the Government.  Minister Duclos will be tasked with putting a steady hand on a central agency which has been in a state of flux since the departure of Scott Brison last year while Minister Champagne will need to manage Canada’s role in the world as it seeks to win a coveted seat on the UN Security Council and deal with strained relations with major economies like China.

This team of Freeland, Morneau, Wilkinson, O’Reagan, Ng, Bains, Duclos and Champagne will be central to the Government’s success and whether it can survive this minority Parliament.

The New Cabinet

The Prime Minister has named a Cabinet with 36 members – including 7 newcomers – and has maintained the gender balance amongst Ministers which he instituted in 2015.

Significant Changes in Cabinet

  • Catherine McKenna moves from Environment to become Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and will work closely with provinces and municipalities to ensure infrastructure funding flows.
  • Patty Hajdu will be the new Minister of Health and will oversee the Government’s ongoing efforts to manage the Canada Health Act.
  • Pablo Rodriguez will take on the important role of Government House Leader and will be tasked with ensuring the Government can successfully manage the House agenda in a challenging minority environment.
  • With Seamus O’Reagan moving to Natural Resources, Montreal MP Marc Miller takes on the important task of Minister of Indigenous Services (becoming the Department’s third Minister in the last 12 months).
  • Nova Scotia’s Bernadette Jordan will take on a bigger role central to her region’s success as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
  • Melainie Joly will be the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and oversee the country’s regional development agencies.

Noteworthy Ministers remaining in Portfolio

  • Marc Garneau will remain as Minister of Transport and will immediately be faced with addressing the CN Rail Strike, along with Filomena Tassi, the new Minister of Labour.
  • Carolyn Bennett will continue her work as Minister of Indigenous-Crown Relations.
  • David Lametti will remain Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
  • Diane Lebouthillier has been reappointed as Minister of National Revenue.

Significant New Faces

  • Rookie Montreal MP Steven Guilbeault is the new Minister of Canadian Heritage.
  • Oakville MP Anita Anand is the new Minister of Public Services and Procurement.
  • Manitoba will be represented in Cabinet by the new Minister of Northern Affairs, MP Dan Vadal from Winnipeg. 
  • Toronto MP Marco Mendicino takes on the role of Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
  • Ottawa MP Mona Fortier will serve as the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.

Quebec Dynamics

The appointment of Duclos and Champagne to senior portfolios (as well as the other seven Ministers from the Province) reflects the ongoing importance of Quebec to this Government.  Also significant, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez has been appointed as Quebec Lieutenant – a role not filled during the last mandate – and will have input on all decisions impacting the Province.  This reflects the view that the Government’s best opportunity to gain seats and win back a majority mandate in the next election – especially in the largely Francophone ridings outside the island of Montreal – is ensuring Quebec Ministers are involved in the key agenda items impacting the Province.

Cabinet Committees

The membership of Cabinet Committees provides a look at what Ministers are playing central roles in the policy direction of the Government.  All Government decisions flow through a Cabinet Committee and the Committee Chairs can have enormous influence on whether a policy advances or not. 

The Cabinet Committees are:

Cabinet Committee on Agenda, Results and Communications

Chair: Justin Trudeau / Vice-Chair: Chrystia Freeland

Treasury Board

Chair: Jean-Yves Duclos / Vice-Chair: Joyce Murray

Cabinet Committee on Operations

Chair: Dominic LeBlanc / Vice-Chair: Pablo Rodriguez

Cabinet Committee on Economy and the Environment

Chair: Chrystia Freeland / Vice-Chair: Jonathan Wilkinson

Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation

Chair: Carla Qualtrough / Vice-Chair: Bernadette Jordan

Cabinet Committee on Health and Social Affairs

Chair: Bardish Chagger / Vice-Chair: Jean-Yves Duclos

Cabinet Committee on Global Affairs and Public Security

Chair: Navdeep Singh Bains / Vice-Chair: Mélanie Joly

The Full Cabinet

Chrystia Freeland – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Anita Anand – Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Navdeep Bains – Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Carolyn Bennett – Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Marie-Claude Bibeau -Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Bill Blair – Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Bardish Chagger – Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

François-Philippe Champagne – Minister of Foreign Affairs

Jean-Yves Duclos – President of the Treasury Board

Mona Fortier – Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance

Marc Garneau – Minister of Transport

Karina Gould -Minister of International Development

Steven Guilbeault – Minister of Canadian Heritage

Patty Hajdu – Minister of Health

Ahmed Hussen – Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Mélanie Joly – Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Bernadette Jordan – Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

David Lametti – Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Dominic LeBlanc – President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada

Diane Lebouthillier – Minister of National Revenue

Lawrence MacAulay- Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Catherine McKenna – Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Marco E. L. Mendicino – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Marc Miller – Minister of Indigenous Services

Maryam Monsef – Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

Bill Morneau – Minister of Finance

Joyce Murray – Minister of Digital Government

Mary Ng – Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Seamus O’Regan – Minister of Natural Resources

Carla Qualtrough -Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Pablo Rodriguez – Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Harjit Sajjan – Minister of National Defence

Deb Schulte – Minister of Seniors

Filomena Tassi – Minister of Labour

Dan Vandal – Minister of Northern Affairs

Jonathan Wilkinson – Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Impact on Advocacy

As noted in TSA’s post election note on October 22, a minority government will require renewed focus on relationship building with both the Government and Opposition in order to advance advocacy efforts.  The Government’s focus will be on its priority agenda items and advocacy efforts should be, whenever possible, linked to these priorities.

Over the next two years (the expected life of any minority government) it will be especially important to build relationships with Ministers that will be engaged on the Government’s priority items – climate change, resource development and economic growth.  These would include the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Natural Resources, Finance, Innovation and International Trade.

It will also be essential to any advocacy efforts to build relationships with the corresponding opposition critics who will have additional resources and abilities to impact Government direction.  This will also hold true as Committees will be faced with Opposition majorities and increased abilities to amend Government legislation and propose Committee studies that may not be on the Government’s priority agenda.

The Senate, with an increasingly independent character that continues to develop, will also be key to engage and understand.  On issues of importance to Alberta and Saskatchewan, engaging Senators from these provinces may be as important to influencing Government direction as Ministers and MPs given the Senate’s abilities, and willingness, to delay and amend Government legislation.

Looking Ahead

Parliament will return on December 5 with the election of a Speaker and a Speech from the Throne.  We expect Parliament will sit for one week before recessing for the Christmas break and returning in late January for the winter session.

An immediate focus of the new Parliament will be addressing the CN Rail strike (if it has not been resolved) and introducing the promised middle-class tax cut platform commitment.

Mandate letters will once again be released for Ministers outlining the priorities for each Department.  We expect these to be released over the next week.

We are expecting continued changes in PMO and other priority positions driving the Government’s agenda.  One significant appointment expected in the near future will be the appointment of a new Ambassador to the United States given David McNaughton’s retirement from the post earlier this year.

The Conservative and NDP critic appointments are also expected imminently. 

The Bottom Line

The Cabinet has been created to place its strongest performing Ministers at the forefront of the Government’s priorities. 

Expect the Government to push strongly forward on climate change while recognizing the need to invest in resource development – especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Effective advocacy will need to provide outreach to Ministers and their departments as well as Opposition critics and Committees.  The Senate will continue to be increasingly important in advancing any advocacy efforts.

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