Earlier today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced changes to his Cabinet as the Hon. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Industry, Science, and Industry, announced his decision to not seek re-election as a Member of Parliament. Given the minority government this cabinet shuffle will do the following:
- Present an updated election-ready cabinet team;
- Enhance the team delivering the message around jobs and the economy in the context of the economic pressures of the pandemic;
- Ensure regional and diverse representation in Cabinet; and
- Focus on the deep and experienced team to tackle the challenges of the pandemic.
The Prime Minister has appointed François-Phillippe Champagne as Minister of Innovation Science and Industry to replace Navdeep Bains. Minister Champagne is a trusted voice on economic and global issues for this government. He is an experienced bilingual business leader with extensive expertise in energy, innovation and engineering. He will enhance the government’s ability to carry a strong economic message in Québec. His experience as the former Minister of Infrastructure lends well to delivering on jobs and the economy across Canada.
Another strong economic voice for the government was also reappointed today: Jim Carr will join to serve as Special Representative for the Prairies. He was previously the Minister of Natural Resources as well as the Minister of International Trade Diversification, which has given him a deep understanding on the challenges faced by Western Canada and Canada-US file.
Marc Garneau has been appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He served in the Trudeau cabinet for five years as Minister of Transportation. He is a senior voice at the cabinet table and has strong exposure on the Canada-US file, having chaired the bilateral table during USMCA negotiations, as well as managed diplomatic relationships around the world.
The only new appointment to cabinet is Omar Alghabra, who will now be the Minister of Transportation. He represents the riding of Mississauga Centre, and, until today, served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Although new to Cabinet, he has been a key player with the Trudeau team especially with organization, fundraising and retail politics in the Greater Toronto Area. He will enter the portfolio with the intense pressure to deal with multiple challenges from the aerospace industry.
With the changes today, the government has again sent a strong signal that Québec is an important focus for re-election. This in addition to trusted senior voices being appointed in Ontario and the Prairies. This shuffle demonstrates the government’s preparation and identifies some of their key voices in the event of an election as early as this spring if the Government falls on the budget vote.
Although all signs point to the government heading towards a potential election, (as most minority government only last on average two years), in a pandemic there will still be many serious issues for parties to consider before triggering one. Most importantly, what the vaccination rollout looks like and to what extent lockdowns and rising case numbers will impact voting intentions.
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