Earlier today, Prime Minister Trudeau announced changes to his Cabinet. The shuffle was triggered by veteran Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison’s decision to step away from politics last week. Brison served as President of the Treasury Board since 2015.
The Prime Minister has appointed Ontario MP Jane Philpott to replace Brison at Treasury Board, moving her from Indigenous Services.
Minister Philpott previously served as Minister of Health where she successfully negotiated a federal-provincial accord on health care prior to being named to head the newly styled Ministry of Indigenous Services. Minister Philpott is highly regarded by her cabinet and caucus colleagues. More importantly, the decision to assign her to a key economic portfolio signals the Prime Minister’s faith in her ability to manage an important central agency of government. Philpott has been serving as a member of the Treasury Board, so her transition to the department should be smooth. It is expected that Minister Philpott’s skills will be needed to ensure budget expenditures make it out the door in time for the federal election this October.
Replacing Minister Philpott at Indigenous Services is Newfoundlander and former television journalist, Seamus O’Regan. Formerly Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, O’Regan will be tasked with overseeing the ongoing and difficult process of reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit. His immediate challenges will include improving ongoing health and education access issues for Indigenous Canadians, and dealing with forthcoming federal legislation to transfer child welfare authority.
Scott Brison was the sole cabinet minister from Nova Scotia. His replacement for that function is former Atlantic Caucus Chair and South Shore MP, Bernadette Jordan. Minister Jordan assumes responsibility for a newly minted Ministry of Rural Economic Development. The creation of this new department is clearly designed to provide policy focus to the government’s rural agenda. It is expected that resources for building rural transportation and high-speed internet infrastructure will be augmented in the 2019 federal budget, which will be the government’s last before October’s general election. Minister Jordan is the first female federal cabinet minister from Nova Scotia.
Finally, Montréal MP and former law professor David Lametti has been named Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, replacing Jody Wilson-Raybould who moves to Veteran’s Affairs. This is the only cabinet change announced today that cannot be directly linked to the domino effect caused by Scott Brison’s decision to leave politics. While Ottawa pundits have been quick to interpret this move as a demotion for Wilson-Raybould, the Prime Minister asserted the Veterans affairs file is a “deep and awesome responsibility.”