Local Conservative MP Cathy McLeod and Thompson River University political scientist Derek Cook agree the new federal cabinet unveiled this week will have its challenges.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a larger cabinet that aims to advance Liberal campaign promises to tackle climate change and promote middle-class prosperity, while attempting to soothe regional tensions worsened by last month’s minority government election outcome.
Following the Oct. 21 election, Trudeau said Canadians voted to “pull together the country, to focus on issues of economic growth for the middle class, to fight climate change and to keep Canadians and their communities safe.’’
“That is our focus and this is the team to do that,’’ Trudeau said on Wednesday, flanked by his 36 ministers outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
McLeod said there are many critical issues that will need to be top priorities for cabinet, with the Canadian National Railway strike at the forefront of Labour Minister Filomena Tassi’s agenda.
For B.C., McLeod stressed the need to renew the softwood lumber agreement with the U.S.
Cook views Catherine McKenna’s shuffle from Environment and Climate Change to Infrastructure and Communities as a move to an important portfolio that can impact her previous role.
“If we want to do something about climate change, we have to put in infrastructural investments,” Cook said, adding people need to be given an alternative to working in the fossil-fuel industry.
He said there is plenty of work in a green economy, in which infrastructure plays a big role.
North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson is McKenna’s replacement as environment minister, moving over from his last position as minister of fisheries and oceans.
Cook said the appointment is a smart move politically, but noted a conflict is inevitable for Wilkinson in that role as he represents a constituency that is has concerns about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which the government is committed to completing.
“His job will be to convince B.C.ers to support the pipeline or to at least stand aside,” Cook said.
Wilkinson and three other Vancouver-area Liberal MPs were retained in Trudeau’s cabinet and McLeod hopes they will be advocates for the forestry industry in B.C. regardless of their portfolios.
Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South) remains minister of national defence, Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra) moves from president of the treasury board and minister of digital government to minister for digital government and Carla Qualtrough (Delta) is now minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, transferring from minister of public service.
Among the biggest moves, former foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland was replaced by former infrastructure minister François-Philippe Champagne, a move Cook views as an upgrade.
“The person who’s taking over for her is basically a trade expert and, if you want to do well economically, then international trade is important,” he said.
Freeland was promoted to deputy prime minister and minister of intergovernmental affairs.
In her new role, Freeland will be the point person dealing with provincial leaders and is also the first deputy prime minister the country has had in more than a decade.
McLeod believes Freeland has been given a tough task, describing the deputy prime minister role with a focus on intergovernmental relations as a necessary portfolio.
Cook said Freeland will have “a lot of work to do” when it comes to dealing with the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the Liberals were shut out in the election.
“They’re simply offside on the Liberal agenda and I don’t see what could be done to bring them back,” Cook said.
The Toronto MP, who has roots in Alberta, won praise as a tough, canny negotiator during the NAFTA trade talks. Her diplomatic and negotiating skills will be put to the test in dealing with Alberta’s Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and Ontario’s Doug Ford.
McLeod noted Canadian unity, the rise of the Bloq Quebecois and challenges facing Alberta and Saskatchewan are among the other issues Trudeau’s minority government will have to address.
McLeod was most recently the Conservative Indigenous Affairs critic. The party will be confirming its new shadow cabinet to be named before Parliament resumes on Dec. 5.
McLeod said she does not know if she will retain the critic portfolio.’
“I haven’t had any conversations with him,” she said of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Cook said the chairs of cabinet committees, where decisions are typically made, will be telling of who has power in the new cabinet.
“Those are the people you write to if you want to lobby the cabinet,” he said.
— with files from Canadian Press
Chrystia Freeland becomes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Anita Anand becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement
Navdeep Bains becomes Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Carolyn Bennett remains Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Marie-Claude Bibeau remains Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Bill Blair becomes Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Bardish Chagger becomes Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth
François-Philippe Champagne becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs
Jean-Yves Duclos becomes President of the Treasury Board
Mona Fortier becomes Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance
Marc Garneau remains Minister of Transport
Karina Gould becomes Minister of International Development
Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of Canadian Heritage
Patty Hajdu becomes Minister of Health
Ahmed Hussen becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
Bernadette Jordan becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
David Lametti remains Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Dominic LeBlanc becomes President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada
Diane Lebouthillier remains Minister of National Revenue
Lawrence MacAulay remains Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
Catherine McKenna becomes Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
Marco E. L. Mendicino becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Marc Miller becomes Minister of Indigenous Services
Maryam Monsef becomes Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development
Bill Morneau remains Minister of Finance
Joyce Murray becomes Minister of Digital Government
Mary Ng becomes Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
Seamus O’Regan becomes Minister of Natural Resources
Carla Qualtrough becomes Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Pablo Rodriguez becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Harjit Sajjan remains Minister of National Defence
Deb Schulte becomes Minister of Seniors
Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Labour
Dan Vandal becomes Minister of Northern Affairs
Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Cabinet Committee on Agenda, Results and Communications
Cabinet Committee on Operations
Cabinet Committee on Global Affairs and Public Security
Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation
Cabinet Committee on Economy and the Environment
Cabinet Committee on Health and Social Affairs
Incident Response Group