Nearly the Entirety of Cabinet Will Be New, or in New Roles After Wednesday Shuffle

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Nearly the entirety of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet will be new, or find themselves in new roles after a federal cabinet shuffle on Wednesday, CTV News has learned.

In what is shaping up to be a sizeable shakeup of his front bench, seven ministers are confirmed to be leaving cabinet, opening up spots for new faces, while the majority of current members of the prime minister’s front bench are expected to be moved, according to a senior government source.

CTV News has confirmed that in addition to the four cabinet ministers that have announced they will be bowing out of federal politics before the next election, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, Justice Minister David Lametti, and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier will be leaving cabinet.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Joyce Murray, Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek, and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett have all said they won’t be running again, and they will be losing their positions in cabinet as part of this shuffle.

In what’s set to be an hour-long ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday—the first major shakeup of the cabinet since fall 2021—senior sources said to expect lots of moving pieces.

The four ministers set to hold on to their current jobs are Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, and Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Defence Minister Anita Anand is one of the ministers CTV News has learned will be getting a new gig, moving into an economic-focused portfolio at Treasury Board. This will leave the key role of defence minister to be taken on by Bill Blair, sources have confirmed. He will be taking on this high-profile international role amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and continued defence spending pressures.

With the Liberal minority roughly midway into its current mandate, this shuffle is being framed as an attempt by the minority Liberals to reset their messaging and “fortifying” as the well-placed source put it, what Trudeau already considers a strong economic team.

Indicating a desire to put a renewed focus on housing affordability, the cost of living, and preparing the country to leverage the transition to net-zero and green economy investments, the shuffle may see some organizational changes to certain ministers’ titles or portfolio responsibilities. 

Deciding to move many of the other ministers around may also provide an opportunity for new or reassigned ministers to take a fresh approach to some of the hot files that the federal government faced intense political scrutiny on during the fall and spring sittings such as public safety, foreign interference, and policies involving online platforms.

Moving current ministers around and bringing in new ones now will also give the Liberals some runway to make progress on, and better communicate the work they’re doing, political analysts have suggested.

SEVEN MINISTERS OUT, FOUR NOT RUNNING AGAIN

The wave of announcements over Monday and Tuesday from ministers who won’t be re-offering comes after Trudeau and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) began a months-long process to assess who in the current cabinet planned on running again, should an election be called.

Bennett was the first to confirm on Monday that she will not be running again, opening up the downtown Toronto-St. Paul’s riding she has held since 1997.

Alghabra said Tuesday in a social media post that “after a lot of reflection,” he has decided not to run in the next election and “will be stepping aside from cabinet.”

Alghabra was first elected in 2006 in Mississauga-Erindale, Ont. and then returned to the House in 2015, representing Mississauga Centre, Ont. As post-pandemic travel ramped up, Alghabra faced a barrage of frustrated Canadians facing delays and baggage woes at overstretched Canadian airports, resulting in reforms to passenger protection rules.

“The prime minister deserves a cabinet who is committed to running in the next federal campaign,” Alghabra said.

Murray, who last month indicated to reporters she was planning to run again, said Tuesday that she now has changed her mind and will vacate her seat “after my current term.”

She has represented the B.C. riding of Vancouver Quadra since 2008, and was the government’s point-person on the search for the ill-fated Titan submersible.

“My work in politics and time serving my community both federally and provincially as an elected official has been the honour of my life,” Murray said.

Similarly, Jaczek said once the current Parliament ends, she will not re-offer, but will keep representing her riding until then. She took on her current portfolio less than a year ago when minister Filomena Tassi and Jaczek switched roles. 

The former Ontario MPP-turned Markham-Stouffville, Ont. MP said she is looking forward to being able to dedicate more time in her riding in the interim, calling it an “immense honour and a privilege to represent” her community in cabinet.

Mendicino will be leaving cabinet after coming under fire for his handling of gun control legislation and the transfer of notorious killer Paul Bernardo, a move he was seemingly left out of the loop on in the months preceding it, leading him to issue a ministerial directive to order corrections to inform the minister of high-profile transfers going forward.

When asked last week whether Trudeau still had confidence in him amid Conservative calls for his resignation, the prime minister told reporters that anyone in his cabinet “by definition has my confidence.”

“I have an amazing team in Ottawa, and an amazing group of MPs right across the country who are committed to serving their country every single day,” Trudeau said.

Fortier made headlines this spring over her handling of one of the largest public service strikes in Canadian history, while Lametti wrapped up the last House sitting amid pressure to act faster on bail reform and judicial appointments, one of a handful of outstanding pieces of Criminal Code-reforming legislation he’s sponsored.

These ministers are expected to be replaced with high-performing members of Trudeau’s backbench caucus, allowing the prime minister to reset the deck and present Canadians with a refreshed roster of decision-makers before the next campaign, currently scheduled for 2025.

The source said that Trudeau wants a team that’s dedicated to working day-in and day-out on positioning the Liberals in contrast to their main opponents, Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives.

On Monday night, Poilievre used the impending shuffle as political fodder at a campaign-style rally.

“Don’t we need some humility out of this Trudeau government in Ottawa? I guess they’ve got a cabinet shuffle coming. What do you think? Who do you think should be shuffled? All of them,” he said to an energized crowd.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh—whose party remains in a confidence-and-supply agreement propping up the Liberal minority—said he doesn’t think the shuffle will impact their relationship.

“A shuffle to me is not going to undo the fact that this government has had seven years to respond to serious crises,” Singh said, citing climate change, housing, and inflation.

“So whether the government shuffles or not, it will not change the fact that they have had seven years to respond to these challenges, and what I hope to see is that Justin Trudeau starts taking these challenges seriously, and starts responding with the urgency required.”

Ahead of the shuffle, Trudeau has been in “private meetings” with his ministers—prompting several to cancel scheduled public events—as he made preparations for this summertime rejig of his front bench.

It’s expected that with the shuffle less than 24 hours away, that most of the conversations with incoming, outgoing, and moving ministers have happened by now.

All ministers—even those who won’t be moving jobs— have been invited to the swearing-in ceremony, so expect to see some faces stroll up the drive that will be there just to watch.

There are currently 38 members in the gender-balanced cabinet, not counting the prime minister. Regional representation is always a core consideration in building cabinets as well, and these newly-announced departures mean Trudeau will be looking to current Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia MPs to fill these slots.

The new cabinet being revealed Wednesday will then have a few weeks to dive into their briefing or transition binders, before heading to P.E.I. for a cabinet retreat in August where ministers will prep for Parliament’s return in September.

CTV News has confirmed that there will be a cabinet meeting Wednesday afternoon with the new roster, on Parliament Hill.

“So they mean business right away,” said Liberal strategist and Bluesky Strategies principal Susan Smith. “They’ll be working all summer to get their portfolios under their belts, thinking up the fresh new approaches to take to Canadians. Come election time, I think they’ll be ready to go.”

Source: CTV News