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Cabinet Shuffle 2019: The challenges and opportunities of being outnumbered

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet, which reflects the shift to a minority government, as well as his first major opportunity to make large (perhaps “substantial”?) changes to his government’s inner circle. These changes also reveal the opportunities that await therein for individual cabinet ministers and more broadly for the government as a whole.

A number of key Trudeau ministers stayed in their former positions, notably Minister Bill Morneau in Finance, Minister David Lametti in Justice, Minister Marc Garneau in Transport, Minister Navdeep Bains in Innovation, Science and Industry, and Minister Harjit Sajjan in National Defence.

Without a doubt, today’s biggest move was Chrystia Freeland’s shuffle from Minister of Foreign Affairs to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Minister Freeland has been this government’s cabinet star since her appointment as Minister of International Trade in 2015, and she has been consistently called on to manage difficult or sensitive files.

In her new role, Minister Freeland will be responsible for navigating the tricky domestic relationships that have become a growing problem for Prime Minister Trudeau. Beyond the obvious scope of her new mandate, Minister Freeland’s promotion reflects not just her essential value as an administrator and diplomat—not to mention that of her Western roots—but also that she has a great deal of credibility within the Liberal Party’s rank and file.

While her promotion might not be intended to position her directly for a future leadership position, it sends a message throughout caucus that with good performance comes reward. Minister Freeland’s promotion also adds an important new layer to her resume—domestic affairs. Clearly, Minister Freeland is a winner in today’s shuffle.

Other notable promotions include François-Philippe Champagne to Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Duclos to the Treasury Board, and Bill Blair to Public Safety. Meanwhile, Minister Catherine McKenna leaves a high-profile portfolio in Environment and Climate Change to take up responsibilities for Infrastructure. Seamus O’Regan from Newfoundland leaves an often-hot seat in Veterans Affairs to take on another in Natural Resources.

The most important narrative to come out of today’s shuffle is that it lays the foundation for how Prime Minister Trudeau intends to govern with a minority. Pablo Rodriguez’s assignment as House Leader, one of the most important roles in this government, is telling. He is known to be a tough negotiator, perfectly bilingual, and has the trust of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office. He will be responsible for paving the way for cooperation with opposition parties and drawing lines in the sand when necessary.

The other major challenge presented to Prime Minister Trudeau after the 2019 election is representing the interests of Western Canada in his cabinet, as well as defusing the increasing tensions between the region and Ottawa. It appears the Prime Minister has opted for a blended approach to managing this challenge by appointing senior regional advisors, such as former Minister of Natural Resources and International Trade Jim Carr to represent the Prairies, as well as enhancing Minister Freeland’s role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

As always, NATIONAL’s team of Public Affairs and Government relations experts is ready to help you navigate the new and exciting world of Canada’s minority government. We will also be highlighting reaction from opposition parties over the coming days.

The full new cabinet is as follows:

Position Name Province
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau QC
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Chrystia Freeland ON
Minister of Finance Bill Morneau ON
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains ON
President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos QC
Minister of Foreign Affairs François-Philippe Champagne QC
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan BC
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair ON
Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti QC
Minister of Public Service and Procurement Anita Anand ON
Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development Ahmed Hussen ON
Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier QC
Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan NL
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson BC
Minister of Transport Marc Garneau QC
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino ON
Minister of Labour Filomena Tassi ON
Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault QC
Minister of International Development Karina Gould ON
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef ON
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna ON
Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray BC
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough BC
Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Melanie Joly QC
Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte ON
President of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada Dominic LeBlanc NB
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau QC
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan NS
Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng ON
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu ON
Chief Government Whip Mark Holland ON
Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger ON
Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez QC
Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller QC
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett ON
Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal MB
Minister of the Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance Mona Fortier ON
Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay PEI