Federal cabinet shuffle readies Liberals for long-fight trade dealings and tough-fight October 2019 election
ANALYSIS by Mary P Brooke, West Shore Voice News
Wednesday, July 18 ~ NATIONAL. Cabinet Shuffle analysis by West Shore Voice News
Watching his back for both trade dealings with the US, and also domestically with the next federal election looming in October 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet today, July 18.
It’s a toughened up machine. Good solid performers on various levels (both political and breadth of skill sets) are untouched and left in place — notably Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is entirely in the safe zone as is Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. All of this essentially signals that Trudeau feels the primary planks of good governance are solidly in place.
Pulled higher up in the ranks for an obvious job well done was first-term MP Bill Blair, who brought the cannabis legalization file through all the hoops including good communications and media handling. He’s now the Minister of a new portfolio called Border Security and Organized Crime. He had carried the cannabis legalization process serving as parliamentary secretary to both Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
Set aside to varying degrees were MPs who did not bring the required best to the table, including Mélanie Joly who while Heritage minister lost traction for her government on things like Netflix; she’s now Minister of Tourism, Official Languages, and Francophonie.
Gone from Tourism and Small Business is government house leader Bardish Chagger. Attention to small business now comes under May Ng as Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, who has only held a seat since a 2017 by-election to replace John McCallum who in March 2017 was set on a new course by Trudeau as the ambassador to China.
Treasury Board President Scott Brison who helped navigate the public delivery of information about complex financial changes in Canada over the past few years becomes minister of digital government.
Jim Carr who helped Finance Minister Bill Morneau play tough on the TransMountain Pipeline this year file moves from Natural Resources to International Trade Diversification. The tough-guy edge is needed with the ongoing trade negotiations with the US.
Having handled the Infrastructure ministry since the start of Trudeau’s majority government in 2015, Edmonton-based Amarjeet Sohi is now Minister of Natural Resources, sending a signal to Alberta that the Liberals are there for the Alberta oil industry. The Infrastructure portfolio oversees large budget expenditures right across the country, but to date the rollout of projects has been slow (oftentimes due to partnership funding complexities with provinces, local governments and private players).
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has “northern affairs” dropped from her title, probably just due to workload and travel involved in that file.
Long-time friend of the Prime Minister, Dominic LeBlanc moves from Fisheries and Oceans to Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
A new Ministry for seniors issues has been set up under Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi. Hamilton is in the steel-industry belt of southern Ontario, giving a nod to trade issues.
Pablo Rodriguez, who was serving as chief government whip, becomes minister of heritage and multiculturalism.
Having proven to be a careful but enthusiastic communicator, François-Philippe Champagne moves from International Trade to Infrastructure and Communities.
Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson becomes minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, therefore putting in place a west-coast slant on ocean-side politics.
Carla Qualtrough, remains minister of public services and procurement despite the ongoing Phoenix pay system crisis, and gets the added portfolio of Accessibility (padded in following the departure of Sport Minister Kent Herr from cabinet earlier this year — who with his own requirement for mobility by wheelchair had been a face for the accessibility-community).
Overall, Trudeau is strengthening the Liberal base in Ontario and Alberta. That’s to help balance against the ideological conservative push now with Premier Doug Ford in place in Ontario, and to maintain good ties with the resource industry and business community in Alberta. As well, there is likely a political concern about balancing out what the Liberals might to expect to lose in the way of seats in BC in 2019 given the pipelines and oceans protections challenges with the NDP/Green government in BC; in 2015 the Liberal BC seats were the highest in BC since the 1970s under Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal leadership.