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Dealer’s choice – Possibilities for a summer cabinet shuffle

Parliament of Canada
Written by
Tammy Alamrieh

Tammy Alamrieh

Written by
Andrew Richardson

Andrew Richardson

The proverbial bell rang and on June 22nd the House of Commons rose for the summer. Members of Parliament, like students at the end of a long school year, were let out of Ottawa and went back to their home ridings. They’ll spend the summer recess touring the barbeque circuit and tending to their constituents’ needs. Staffers and bureaucrats are left in Ottawa hoping for an unexpected government announcement to shake things up and counting down the days until the always hectic Fall session.

While summer in the nation’s capital can be a bit dull, this year’s whispers on the Hill center on an anticipated cabinet shuffle which is rumoured to be taking place within the next week or two. With rumours growing louder, and with sound strategic reasons for the Prime Minister to make changes to his cabinet, NATIONAL believes that it is worth considering what a shuffle could look like.

Potential Cabinet Shuffle

Late August will mark the second summer retreat for cabinet, being held this year in British Columbia. If there is ever a time to shuffle cabinet, the time is now. In anticipation for the 2019 election, this summer will be the last and best opportunity for Prime Mister Justin Trudeau to shake up the game and move some heavy hitters and rising stars to the forefront while replacing those not seeking re-election and those falling short of expectations. This next year will be crucial for the Liberal party as they head towards an election. Prime Minister Trudeau will need to be strategic in who he places on the front line as they will ultimately be the faces of what they hope will be another run at Government.

The Heavy-Hitters

Current heavy-hitters and steady performers include:

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who undoubtedly secured her role as the unofficial Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s right-hand woman,
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains, and
  • Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott, whom was acknowledged for her success on the Health file before she was promoted in the last shuffle.

Who to Watch

While these ministers are the most visible, there are a few other ministers and rising MPs worth watching, as people we talk to in Ottawa see them as solid performers who may be in line for promotion:

  • Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean Yves-Duclos is one to watch as he holds a steady hand over his file.
  • Current backbencher, Sean Fraser considered likely to be selected for a Parliamentary Secretary role.
  • Markham-Thornhill MP and former PMO Director of Appointments May Ng may see a climb from her position as rookie MP – perhaps even to Cabinet
  • Sean Casey, current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Member of Parliament for Charlottetown could be promoted
  • Joël Lightbound, current Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, has been seen as a strong performer and his promotion to Cabinet would not be a surprise to many here
  • Other MPs who could be promoted include:
    • Bernadette Jordan, a Nova Scotian Member of Parliament, who has been making waves as the current Chair of Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans
    • Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, is a notable rising star in the Chamber
    • Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre
    • Filomena Tassi, Member of Parliament for Hamilton West

Minister Facing Scrutiny

While the MPs discussed above are generally seen as high performers or rising stars, others have faced a challenging year. One in particular is Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance. While Minister Morneau has faced a number of hurdles, including an ethics inquiry, people we talk to say that the chances of Prime Minister Trudeau removing him from cabinet are slim. Minister Morneau is a leading figure and one of the many faces of ‘change’ put forward by the Liberals. Removing him from Cabinet would not be a positive signal of change for the Trudeau government. Only time can tell what this shuffle will bring but one thing we can be certain of is the fast approaching election and the Prime Minister’s need to implement his strategy and new messaging because while most of the county is experiencing a heat wave, his ways are not looking very ‘sunny’ as of late.

——— Andrew Richardson is a former Manager, Political Insights and Strategy at NATIONAL Public Relations

——— Tammy Alamrieh is a former Consultant at NATIONAL Public Relations