Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new cabinet

15 minute read
26 October 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new Cabinet this morning. This was a major Cabinet overhaul, with significant departures and additions in key portfolios. As expected, the Prime Minister built his Cabinet with an emphasis on gender parity and regional representation. In an early morning Twitter message, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of meaningful action in key policy areas to "finish the fight against COVID-19, make housing more affordable, address climate change, create good jobs, walk the path of reconciliation, and build a better future for everyone". The Prime Minister hopes to realize on his government's objectives  with a significant shakeup of his leadership team.

This Cabinet is similar in size to the last, adding two new members to bring the total number of ministers to 39 including the Prime Minister. Randy Boissonnault (Edmonton-Centre) is a notable addition for regional diversity. Boissonnault rejoins Cabinet as Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance. The Prime Minister is likely glad to have Boissonnault back in Cabinet following his re-election in 2021 after being upset in 2019. There were no Albertans in the last Cabinet, and it was likely a priority to get Boissonnault back in the fold.

This Cabinet is not based on renovation, but renewal. The Prime Minister wishes to illustrate the importance of the last general election and the need to move forward with a revitalized team to deliver on key campaign promises that included commitments on childcare, climate change, affordable housing, truth and reconciliation, and economic recovery. Notably, the Prime Minister appointed Ahmed Hussen as Minister for Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, demonstrating a clear commitment to prioritizing housing policy in this Parliament.

The Prime Minister announced in September that Chrystia Freeland would retain the Finance portfolio and continue as Deputy Prime Minister. Freeland will undoubtedly play a prominent role in this government, and observers will be watching to see if her proximity to the Prime Minister strengthens her personal political brand as she is expected to lead the way on significant policy changes to facilitate a recovery from COVID-19.

Following the last election, there was more room for female newcomers to Cabinet with the departure of four female Ministers through either retirement or electoral losses. Catherine McKenna did not run in the 44th general election. Bernadette Jordan (Fisheries), Maryam Monsef (Women and Gender Equality) and Deb Shulte (Seniors) all lost their seats. These departures required Prime Minister Trudeau to make substantial changes to his Cabinet to ensure gender parity and keep trusted Members in key portfolios.

Former backbench Members of Parliament who joined Cabinet for the first time today include Sean Fraser, who will serve as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Fraser has been a member of the Liberal caucus since 2015 and was expected to join the Cabinet in this shuffle. In appointing Fraser to a demanding portfolio, the Prime Minister has expressed confidence in Fraser's abilities. Female newcomers around the Cabinet table include Marci Ien, Helena Jaczek, Gudie Hutchings, Pascal St-Onge and Kamal Khera.

Marci Ien was appointed to serve as Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth. Ien won her race in Toronto - Centre handily in the last general election, defeating Green Party leader Annamie Paul.

Helena Jaczek was appointed as Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Jaczek was first elected federally in 2019, after serving as the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario when she was a Member of Provincial Parliament.

Gudie Hutchings was also added to Cabinet as Minister of Rural Economic Development. Both Hutchings and well-known Minister Seamus O'Regan will represent Newfoundland and Labrador in Cabinet.

Pascale St-Onge is joining Cabinet following much speculation about her likely addition to the Liberal leadership. St-Onge was appointed as Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

Kamal Khera was appointed Minister of Seniors. Khera was first elected in 2015. Kamal Khera is Member of Parliament for Brampton West, a strategically important riding for the Liberals.

Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, who was Minister of Health before losing her place in Cabinet in 2019, is now back at the table as Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Marc Garneau, who most recently served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was dropped entirely from Cabinet. There are rumours that Garneau will be taking a new position as Canada's Ambassador to France. Melanie Joly took on the role of Minister of Foreign Affairs, a significant appointment to a senior Cabinet position. The responsibilities of this portfolio have evolved considerably in recent years, and this position will be demanding as Canada navigates a changing international environment. The Prime Minister has expressed confidence in Joly's ability through this appointment.

Bardish Chagger was also left out of this shuffle after serving as Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. Jim Carr was also shuffled out of Cabinet completely today.

Following much speculation, Harjit Sajjan was shuffled out of his position as Minster of National Defence after serving in that portfolio for six years. Sajjan was shuffled to Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada. Opposition parties have called for Sajjan's resignation for months amid the ongoing sexual misconduct crisis in the Canadian military. Anita Anand is the new Minister of National Defence, with the Prime Minister clearly hoping that she will refresh the role during a challenging period in the Defence portfolio. Anand's effectiveness in her role as Minister of Public Services and Procurement during the COVID-19 vaccine procurement process made her a top candidate for this promotion to a senior Cabinet position. Anand is the second female Minister of National Defence in Canada's history, with former Prime Minister Kim Campbell being the first.

Filomena Tassi replaced Annand as Minister of Public Services and Procurement. She will be responsible for ongoing vaccine procurement, most likely managing vaccine supplies for children in the near future.

Patty Hajdu was moved from her role as Minister of Health to Minister of Indigenous Services. The Health portfolio was split into two separate roles, one for Health and the other for Mental Health and Addiction. Jean-Yves Duclos is the new Minister of Health. Carolyn Bennett was shuffled from Crown-Indigenous Relations to a new role as Minister of Mental Health and Addiction and Associate Minister of Health. This new approach to health portfolios demonstrates how the government intends to readjust in key policy areas in the wake of the pandemic. Interesting that Marie-Claude Bibeau remains at Agriculture and Agri-food; likely her strong voice for Quebec kept her there.

Marc Miller will move into Carolyn Bennett's former role as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations after serving as Minister of Indigenous Services. Miller is well trusted on indigenous issues and offers continuity on these critical matters by stepping into the portfolio of Crown-Indigenous Relations.

Jonathan Wilkinson moved from his position as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change to Minister of Natural Resources. Steven Guilbeault will be the new Minister, moving from Canadian Heritage. Guilbeault, who was a prominent environmentalist before entering politics, will face a demanding set of responsibilities in preparing for the results of COP26 later this week and implementing the Liberals' ambitious climate platform. Pablo Rodriguez takes Guilbeault's place in Canadian Heritage, a post in which he previously served before moving to Leader of the Government in 2019.

Seamus O'Regan moved from Natural Resources to Labour, his fourth Cabinet position since first taking a portfolio in 2017. Jonathan Wilkinson takes his place in Natural Resources. That role, much like Environment, will be an active portfolio as the government prepares to implement what many expect to be structurally impactful policies in natural resources sectors. Wilkinson moved into the Natural Resources position from Environment and Climate Change, and will undoubtedly seek to leverage his experience in his previous role to meet the demands of his new portfolio.

Bill Blair will serve as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness. This splits his previous role as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Marco Mendicino is the new Minister of Public Safety. The division of these roles is likely a response to the demands of managing border issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing more resources and focus by distinguishing responsibilities between two Cabinet positions.

Mona Fortier, MP for Ottawa–Vanier, played a prominent role in developing the Liberal Party's campaign platform as Co-Chair of the Liberals' National Platform Committee, and she will take on a new role as President of the Treasury Board.

The Prime Minister has restructured his Cabinet to respond to the evolving challenges of the pandemic and new demands on the government. He has positioned female members in senior roles and attempted to surround himself with allies as Canada navigates an uncertain road ahead in many key policy areas. The Prime Minister will hope that this refreshed team will be able to implement critical policies in the Liberal agenda as Canada moves forward with its COVID-19 recovery.

Here is a list of the new cabinet:

The Hon. Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada

Ministers retaining their positions:

Chrystia Freeland – Deputy PM and Finance

Lawrence MacAuley – Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

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

Diane Lebouthillier – Minister of National Revenue

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

Francois-Philippe Champagne – Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

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

David Lametti – Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Omar Alghabra – Minister of Transport

Ministers taking on new responsibilities

Carolyn Bennett – Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Dominic Leblanc – Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities

Jean-Yves Duclos – Minister of Health

Melanie Joly – Minister of Foreign Affairs

Harjit Sajjan – International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

Patty Hajdu – Minister of Indigenous Services

Karina Gould – Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Ahmed Hussen – Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion

Seamus O'Regan – Minister of Labour

Pablo Rodriguez – Minister of Canadian Heritage

Ginette Petitpas-Taylor – Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Bill Blair – President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

Filomena Tassi – Minister of Pubic Services and Procurement

Jonathan Wilkinson – Minister of Natural Resources

Joyce Murray – Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Anita Anand – Minister of National Defence

Mona Fortier – President of the Treasury Board

Steven Guilbeault – Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Marco Mendicino – Minister of Public Safety

Marc Miller – Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

Daniel Vandal – Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mark Holland – Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

New ministers

Randy Boissonnault – Minster of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

Sean Fraser – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Gudie Hutchings – Minister of Rural Economic Development

Pascale St-Onge – Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Marci Ien – Minister of Women, Gender Equality and Youth

Helena Jaczek – Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Kamal Khera – Minister of Seniors

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