Cabinet shuffle

8 minute read
27 July 2023

Yesterday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the most significant cabinet shuffle since the Liberals were elected. Eighty percent of the Cabinet has changed, and there are seven new ministers to replace the four ministers who announced they were not running in the next election – Helena Jaczek, Omar Alghabra, Carolyn Bennett, and Joyce Murray - and the three who were demoted out of Cabinet – Marco Mendicino, David Lametti and Mona Fortier.

This major overhaul is designed to reset the government agenda in making life more affordable for the middle class, growing the green economy by prioritizing climate change and environmentally-focused files, and fine-tuning the government's approach to problem issues such as immigration, housing and government services.

The changes to the Cabinet are as follows:

  1. Anita Anand becomes President of the Treasury Board
  2. Marie-Claude Bibeau becomes Minister of National Revenue
  3. Bill Blair becomes Minister of National Defence
  4. Randy Boissonnault becomes Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages
  5. Jean-Yves Duclos becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  6. Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
  7. Karina Gould becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  8. Mark Holland becomes Minister of Health
  9. Ahmed Hussen becomes Minister of International Development
  10. Gudie Hutchings becomes Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  11. Kamal Khera becomes Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities
  12. Dominic LeBlanc becomes Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
  13. Diane Lebouthillier becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  14. Lawrence MacAulay becomes Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  15. Marc Miller becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  16. Mary Ng becomes Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development
  17. Seamus O'Regan Jr. becomes Minister of Labour and Seniors
  18. Ginette Petitpas Taylor becomes Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  19. Carla Qualtrough becomes Minister of Sport and Physical Activity
  20. Pablo Rodriguez becomes Minister of Transport and will continue to serve as Quebec Lieutenant
  21. Harjit S. Sajjan becomes President of the King's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
  22. Pascale St-Onge becomes Minister of Canadian Heritage
  23. Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Energy and Natural Resources (Minister Wilkinson remains in the same portfolio, which has been renamed.)

The Prime Minister welcomed the following new members to Cabinet:

  1. Gary Anandasangaree becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  2. Terry Beech becomes Minister of Citizens' Services
  3. Soraya Martinez Ferrada becomes Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
  4. Ya'ara Saks becomes Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
  5. Jenna Sudds becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  6. Rechie Valdez becomes Minister of Small Business
  7. Arif Virani becomes Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada 

These new ministers will join the following eight ministers remaining in their portfolio:

  1. Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
  2. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
  3. Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  4. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
  5. Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
  6. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  7. Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  8. Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

The message conveyed by the Prime Minister is that the Liberal government is looking at next steps with a new and strong team to tackle challenging issues facing Canada in an unsettled world.

This refreshed Cabinet is composed of the people who the Prime Minister believes have good communication skills, and are well-equipped to head into the next election. 

Signals were shared that the government wishes to wait another two years before heading into the next election. Indeed, the Prime Minister stated that the Cabinet is assembled to govern and elections are not planned until the fall of 2025.

In their comments, some pundits referred to new figures released by Abacus Data yesterday morning, which show the Liberals in a weak position on voting intention (trailing the Conservative Party of Canada by 10 points) and lagging on key issues including housing (in third place behind the CPC and NDP).

With a shuffle of this size, Pierre Poilievre claimed that Prime Minister Trudeau admitted through this effort that the Liberal government is a failure.

Jagmeet Singh stated that the priority of the confidence and supply agreement is delivering for Canadians, not forcing an election at this time.

The next 6-12 months will demonstrate whether this reset has had its desired effect.

In the meantime, we can expect to see the following in the coming weeks:

  1. New Parliamentary Secretaries will be named to replace the ones that were appointed to Cabinet. 
  2. The Opposition parties may announce changes to their critics to align with the new ministers and portfolios. 
  3. A change to House Committees as members appointed to Cabinet will need to be replaced when the House reconvenes in September. MP's will also be given the chance to serve on different House Committees

Two key questions remain to be answered. First, will the Prime Minister issue new mandate letters to Ministers or rely on the letters issued after the 2021 election to continue to be the primary outline of each Minister's priorities. Second, will the government complete the reset initiated with this Cabinet shuffle with Prorogation and a Speech From The Throne when the House is expected to reconvene in September.  

The following weeks will shed further light on these issues and on the value of adjustments made to Cabinet to address the priorities of the Trudeau government.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Information made available on this website in any form is for information purposes only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. You should not rely on, or take or fail to take any action based upon this information. Never disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking legal advice because of something you have read on this website. Gowling WLG professionals will be pleased to discuss resolutions to specific legal concerns you may have.