Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today offered the most substantive Cabinet shuffle of his government: 30 of 38 ministers left, joined, shifted roles or saw their portfolios change.
The new Cabinet focuses on election readiness and moves strong performers to files that need more attention and clearer outcomes. Many of the changes are in portfolios with political implications for the Liberals.
While a minority government could fall at any time, in practice, no one anticipates an election earlier than spring 2024. For the governing Liberals, that makes this Cabinet shuffle an essential refresh ahead of the next vote. It also comes at the same time as new polling released Wednesday suggesting a 10-point lead by the Conservatives, which lends urgency to today’s government makeover: a younger cabinet with new priorities to guide Canadians through economically uncertain times.
But political shakeups also mean policy shifts and McMillan Vantage is here to help with what you need to know about who’s up, who’s down, who’s in and who’s out — and what the Cabinet shuffle means for your business or organization.
THE BIG MOVES
Anita Anand (Oakville, ON) from National Defence to President of the Treasury Board
What it means: Anand is a capable minister now tasked with bringing more fiscal discipline to turbulent times. Her critics will frame it as a demotion, but Treasury Board is often a stepping stone to Finance — and where else would you want your fixers now but in a fiscal role? It is, as the saying goes, all about the economy.
Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest, ON) from President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness to National Defence
What it means: Blair is a seasoned and steady hand. He will bring experience and calm to a big file in globally tumultuous times. As a former police chief, it will be interesting to observe how he adapts to the military chain of command and the generals’ language.
Mark Holland (Ajax, ON) from Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to Health
What it means: Health care delivery is a provincial priority responsibility, but the federal government still has a critical (funding) and politically complicated (national standards) role to play. As such, the Trudeau team has tapped a strong political operator. The politics of health care could prove a ballot question in the next election.
Sean Fraser (Central Nova, NS) from Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
What it means: Fraser takes the helm of a consolidated ministry — a signal that the government is taking the housing crisis seriously and wants it closely coordinated with a big infrastructure spend. Fraser is seen as a rising star and is expected to move on the file immediately — especially given federal/provincial politics on the file.
Pablo Rodriguez (Honoré-Mercier, QC) from Canadian Heritage to Transport and will continue to serve as Quebec Lieutenant
What it means: Rodriguez shepherded big, tough legislation at Heritage. Now, let’s see what he can get moving at Transportation. With gridlock and airport delays frustrating voters, watch for Rodriguez to move fast in building Liberal credibility in this file — and also move ahead on the Liberals’ ambitions for passenger rail in the Ontario/Quebec corridor. This portfolio will also provide him with more time to spend on his political duties in Quebec.
Pascale St-Onge (Brome—Missisquoi, QC) from Sport to Canadian Heritage
What it means: St-Onge handled the heat of the Hockey Canada scandal. Now, she will have to deploy all those skills to battle with the social media giants over the Online News Act and the Online Streaming Act.
Jonathan Wilkinson (North Vancouver, B.C.) newly-styled Ministry – Energy and Natural Resources
What it means: Wilkinson has become a trusted and steady hand on the Natural Resources file. Adding Energy may mollify industry and western interests who struggle with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault. The dual role is also a nod to the essential link between increased demand for electricity and the ambitions inherent in the critical minerals and EV strategies.
WHO’S STAYING PUT
François-Philippe Champagne (Saint-Maurice–Champlain, QC) in Innovation, Science and Industry
Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale, ON) in Finance and as Deputy Prime Minister
Steven Guilbeault (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC) in Environment and Climate Change
Mary Ng (Markham Thornhill, ON) keeps Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development but she drops Small Business from her portfolio
Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC) in Foreign Affairs
Marci Ien (Toronto Centre, ON) in Women and Gender Equality and Youth
Patty Hajdu (Thunder Bay Superior North, ON) in Indigenous Services
Filomena Tassi (Hamilton West–Ancaster-Dundas, ON) in the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Dan Vandal (Saint Boniface — Saint Vital, MB) in Prairies Economic Development Canada
What it means: The stability in key economic and fiscal roles signals that the government wants to stay the course on key priorities regarding its plans for a green economy and critical minerals.
Stakeholders focused on energy, green tech and natural resources — especially those awaiting program details for myriad support programs announced in the last budget — should spend the summer engaging on these priorities.
Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, NB) from Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities to Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
What it means: Leblanc is integral to the operations of this government — whether it involves negotiating with the provinces or the controversy over Chinese electoral interference. He’s the guy who can make a deal happen and make big problems go away.
Diane Lebouthillier (Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC) from National Revenue to Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
What it means: This is a promotion for someone who represents a rural Quebec riding that could fall to the Bloc (and that also contains Atlantic Canadian islands). For east coast fisheries, it might be good news. Those on the west coast might be nervous about losing former minister Joyce Murray. Lebouthillier will have to prove herself an ally to the west coast and quickly.
Seamus O’Regan (St. John’s South — Mount Pearl, NF) remains in Labour and adds Seniors
What it means: O’Regan is still beloved by people who knew him as a broadcaster, and seniors are a key Liberal stakeholder group. Having him speak up on their issues will shore up core votes.
Marc Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC) from Crown-Indigenous Relations to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
What it means: Miller is taking his ability to work across complex files and multiple stakeholder groups to a portfolio that has faced controversies over long processing delays and recent high-profile stand-offs.
Karina Gould (Burlington, ON) from Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to Government House Leader
What it means: Gould showed herself to be a deal-maker on child care, and now she’s tasked with keeping caucus together and working across the aisle to get key priorities passed in a fractious minority parliament.
Ahmed Hussen (York South — Weston, ON) from Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion to International Development
What it means: Hussen’s demotion signala that the government realizes it has failed to act decisively or swiftly on the housing file, as a crunch turned into a crisis. His remaining in Cabinet means he’s getting another shot to show what he can do.
Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton—Stanstead, QC) from Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to National Revenue
What it means: Bibeau was not a strong enough advocate for the agriculture community. The new role keeps her at the table as a voice for her region.
New ministers bring fresh eyes to key issues, at least compared sometimes to outgoing ministers who can suffer from having been in a bubble for as many as eight years. They can take time to learn their files but the wait can be worth it.
Politically, regional and local representation is essential. Today’s moves point to ridings or regions where the Trudeau Liberals seek to shore up support ahead of the next election.
Many new or promoted ministers are in their 30s, putting a more youthful face on a government that had been increasingly laden with veteran ministers.
A number of these new faces include:
Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice becomes Minister of Crown and Indigenous Relations
Fast fact: As a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, he brings with him subject matter familiarity.
Terry Beech (Burnaby North—Seymour, B.C.) Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance becomes Minister of Citizens’ Services
Fast fact: This newly created position shows the government is aware it needs to improve its customer service. Most parliamentary secretaries to the finance minister become ministers, and Beech is carrying on this tradition.
Soraya Martinez Ferrada (Hochelaga, QC) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion becomes Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
Fast fact: Ferrada has proven herself an asset in the House and as a parliamentary secretary. While little known in English Canada, her profile is growing in Quebec, where she represents a riding that has often won by the Bloc.
Ya’ara Saks (York Centre, ON) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Services becomes Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Health Minister
Fast Fact: Saks is a single mother of two and represents a swing riding. She also holds key ties to the Jewish community, filling a gap left by the late Jim Carr.
Jenna Sudds (Kanata—Carleton, ON) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Women, Gender Equality, and Youth, becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Fast fact: Sudds holds a battleground riding where Conservatives pose a threat. She is a young mom with a strong municipal background essential to the rollout of the national childcare strategy.
Rechi Valdez (Mississauga—Streetsville, ON) becomes Minister of Small Business
Fast Fact: Valdez is the first female Filipina MP and a small bakery owner who once won a reality TV competition for her treats. She fills a void in Mississauga left by Omar Alghabra’s departure from Cabinet.
Arif Virani (Parkdale—High Park, ON) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development becomes Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Fast fact: Virani holds a riding where the NDP is strong. He was a lawyer with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General before running for office federally. He proved himself as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Justice. His is by far the biggest promotion in this new Cabinet.
Omar Alghabra (Mississauga Centre, ON) Transport, and not running again.
Carolyn Bennett (Toronto-St. Paul’s, ON) Mental Health and Addictions, and not running again.
Mona Fortier (Ottawa–Vanier, ON) President of the Treasury Board.
Helena Jaczek (Markham–Stouffville, ON) Public Services and Procurement, and not running again.
David Lametti (LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, QC) Justice.
Marco Mendicino (Eglinton—Lawrence, ON) Public Safety
Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, B.C.) Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and not running again.
What it means: It was time for some retirements and for some ministers to leave the front benches. Generational and mid-mandate change is normal, and sometimes there are consequences for missteps.
Harjit S. Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.) from International Development and Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada to President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Emergency Preparedness and Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
What it means: Sajjan, despite a less than glorious stint at Defence, is back in key roles that will draw on his experience. He’s being given more to do — perhaps in hopes of keeping him around.
Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, PEI) from Veterans Affairs to Agriculture and Agri-Food
What it means: MacAuley held this role from 2015 to 2019, so he’s familiar with the file and issues.
Jean-Yves Duclos (Quebec, QC) from Minister of Health to Public Services and Procurement
What it means: Duclos is a steady hand for Canada’s significant procurement challenges.
Carla Qualtrough (Delta, B.C.) from Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to Sport and Physical Activity
What it means: Sport is usually a sleepy ministry, but not recently. As a former athlete, Qualtrough brings experience and credibility to a role that will continue to require smart, sensitive leadership.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe, NB) from Minister of Official Languages to Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
What it means: Veteran’s Affairs is headquartered in PEI and supports a large Atlantic veteran’s population — Petitpas Taylor’s roots in the region and bilingualism will help her to build trust with veterans.
Randy Boissonnault (Edmonton Centre, AB) from Minister of Tourism to Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages
What it means: Boissonnault is an able stakeholder manager, holds a critical seat in Alberta, and is likely to work closely with immigration to build targeted strategies for filling gaps in the labour market.
Kamal Khera (Brampton West, ON) from Minister of Seniors to Diversity, Inclusions and Persons with Disabilities
What it means: This increase in responsibilities gives a young MP from the 905 a chance to shine.
Gudie Hutchings (Long Range Mountains, NF) remains in Rural Economic Development and adds the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
What it means: Hutchings now has a chequebook for the Atlantic provinces and will be expected to be visible with it.
Cabinet met today. Ministers will have received their digital briefing binders and be expected to get smart, fast.
A Cabinet retreat will be held in Charlottetown on August 22 and 23, ahead of the fall Parliamentary sitting.
Meanwhile, there will be some turnover among the ranks of political staffers, some of whom will depart. For those staying, there will be much uncertainty about what and where their new jobs will be.
New mandate letters will come soon too, offering a peek into the government’s priorities and ambitions for the rest of the mandate.
As always, McMillan Vantage will be pleased to support you with your engagement as ministers settle into their new, revamped or well-worn seats.