While some MPs have kept their cabinet positions, some heavy hitters have been moved to new portfolios.
The biggest shift involved Chrystia Freeland, arguably Trudeau’s strongest cabinet performer, who stickhandled tempestuous NAFTA negotiations with a mercurial Donald Trump administration in the United States.
Freeland, who has roots in Alberta although she represents a downtown Toronto riding, took on the pivotal role in bridging the divide between the federal Liberal government and irate conservative-led provinces, including Ontario and in the West, as deputy prime minister and minister in charge of a beefed-up intergovernmental affairs department, to be renamed domestic affairs.
Francois-Philippe Champagne has left his current post at Infrastructure to take over from Freeland at Foreign Affairs.
Jonathan Wilkinson, currently fisheries minister, has moved to Environment. He’ll be tasked with squaring the circle of satisfying the majority of Canadians who voted for parties that support stronger action on climate change and simultaneously satisfying the majority who voted for parties that support expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to take Alberta oilsands crude to the B.C. coast for export overseas.
Although he represents a British Columbia riding, Wilkinson was born and raised in Saskatchewan, where he once worked for Roy Romanow’s NDP government. His Saskatchewan roots might help him address anger in that province over the federal Liberals’ climate policies.
Nova Scotian Bernadette Jordan, currently rural economic development minister, will take over Fisheries from Wilkinson.
Catherine McKenna moves to ministry of infrastructure and communities.
Forget the theatricality and sunny optimism of 2015.
Adoring crowds thronged the grounds of Rideau Hall, cheering as the new Liberal prime minister and his gender-equalteam of fresh-faced ministers paraded triumphantly up the curving drive to the governor general’s residence, serenaded by bagpipes.
This time, there was no open invitation to the public to attend the official launch of Trudeau’s second mandate and watch on large screen TVs set up on the grounds of Rideau Hall as ministers took their oaths of office.
Ministers arrived individually for the ceremony and made themselves available briefly afterwards to speak with reporters — the traditional, relatively low-key way cabinet shuffles are conducted.
The more sober approach is a reflection of the sobering circumstances in which the governing party finds itself, reduced to a minority of seats in the House of Commons. It survived a bruising campaign that diminished Trudeau’s stature as a champion of diversity amid long-ago photos of him posing in blackface and left the Liberals shut out entirely in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where talk of western separatism has gotten louder since the Oct. 21 vote.
Trudeau has taken a full month since winning re-election to put together his new cabinet, twice as long as he took in 2015.
Like cabinets during his first mandate, this one will have an equal number of men and women and will attempt to balance various regional, ethnic and religious considerations.
Trudeau has tapped Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez as government House leader for the crucial task of ensuring that government legislation passes with the support of at least one opposition party.
Newcomer Steven Guilbeault, a prominent Quebec environmentalist, took over from Rodriguez at Canadian Heritage.