“More work, less woke,” was what one observer opined on when it came to Justin Trudeau’s new federal cabinet.
As in, from the highs four years ago as Trudeau swaggered onto the stage and declared ‘because it’s 2015’ when asked why he appointed women to half his cabinet, to a team that seems to be more about getting down to the nitty gritty and getting things done.
The newly reelected Prime Minister unveiled his cabinet at a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, November 20. The new ministry will increase to 36 members, but continue to keep Trudeau’s promise of gender parity; 18 of the cabinet ministers are women.
But the Liberals were reduced to a minority government of 157 seats on October 21, and lost representation in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The challenge for Trudeau would be to commit to gender parity and maintaining balanced regional representation without MPs elected in those two provinces. And because of the minority situation, the timeline of this government is no longer a fixed certainty.
Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale), who previously served as Foreign Affairs minister, is now the new Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, a job that hasn’t been filled in over a decade. The last official Deputy PM was former Liberal MP Anne McLellan under Paul Martin.
Originally born in Alberta, many pundits surmise Freeland’s new appointment was an attempt by the government to manage the growing western alienation from the oil producing province, where pipelines are a major issue. Francois-Phillippe Champagne, a Quebec MP and previous Infrastructure minister, will take Freeland’s spot in Foreign Affairs.
Another major change is Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre) who has been moved from Environment and Climate Change to Infrastructure and Communities. Her old job will now be taken up by British Columbia MP Jonathan Wilkinson.
McKenna served as Environment Minister for the entirety of Trudeau’s first term, but faced heavy backlash over her style, which infuriated many people and unfortunately led to some legitimate death threats.
Toronto MP Marco Mendicino (Eglinton-Lawrence) becomes the new Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship minister, replacing Ahmed Hussen (York South-Weston), who moves to Families, Children and Social Development.
Other ministers appointed from the GTA and Hamilton area include:
Anita Anand (the new Oakville MP) becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement.
Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest) becomes Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, replacing Saskatchewan’s Ralph Goodale, who had been an MP since 1993 but lost his seat in the Tory sweep of his province.
Karina Gould (Burlington) becomes Minister of International Development.
Mary Ng (Markham-Thornhill) becomes Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.
Deb Schulte (King-Vaughan) becomes Minister of Seniors.
Filomena Tassi (Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas), who was the Seniors minister, becomes Minister of Labour.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti all retained their old posts.
Other interesting cabinet roles include Minister of Middle Class Prosperity (Associate Finance Minister), a post taken by Mona Fortier (Ottawa Vanier), and Bardish Chagger (Waterloo), who was the previous House Leader, is now tasked as Minister of ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Youth.’
Dominic LeBlanc, a New Brunswick MP and longtime friend of Trudeau’s who was the previous House Leader, returns to cabinet as President of the Queen’s Privy Council even as he has been undergoing cancer treatments.
Manitoba MP Jim Carr, who recently announced he had cancer and was about to undergo his own treatments, is not in cabinet anymore but Trudeau appointed him as his ‘special representative’ to the Prairies; another attempt to keep a Western Canada voice for the governing Liberals.
Obviously, opposition parties were having a field day responding to the new ministry.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau learned nothing in the past four years and said he “appointed anti-pipeline activists and ministers who stood behind him while he passed job killing, anti-energy legislation.”
“The cabinet he unveiled today is a bigger and more bloated version of the same one that helped create an affordability crisis for Canadian families, attacked our energy sector and put thousands of Canadians out of work, and set the stage for a national unity crisis,” Scheer added.
New Democrats had their newly elected member from Hamilton Centre point out that neighbouring Brampton had no MPs appointed to cabinet, despite that city getting swept by the Liberals in the election.
“As a neighbour to Brampton, I see that people have been facing a health care crisis for years with no indication that help is coming. We continue to see overcrowding at the Brampton Civic Hospital and this is wrong,” said NDP MP Matthew Green. “It’s very disappointing that Brampton remains underrepresented in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.”
“Bramptonians deserve to have their voices heard. People here have been struggling and the Liberals have proven again today that they will continue to take Brampton for granted,” Green added, citing issues such as access to health care, expanded dental coverage and affordable prescription drugs as NDP priorities.
The full cabinet list, as well as other tidbits of the new cabinet and new cabinet committees, can be found here.