Less Splashy Affair, As Prime Minister Unveils Cabinet

Seven rookies promoted to front benches in a cabinet dominated by Quebec and Ontario represenation

Prime Minister Trudeau has taken the wraps off his new cabinet, in which gender balance is maintained. There is a heavy reliance on rookie talent, as seven new ministers are being added to the front bench, two were elected for the first time last month. More than a dozen current ministers have been given new portfolios.

One of the biggest changes is moving Chrystia Freeland out of foreign affairs and into the role of deputy prime minister. She will keep her hands on the Canada-US file, as Freeland was instrumental in the negotiation of a new NAFTA deal which must still be ratified.

The Liberals were shut out in Alberta and Saskatchewan during the election, so the 36-member cabinet is top-heavy with representation from Ontario and Quebec, while four are from British Columbia, and there is one each from Atlantic Canada and Manitoba.

Replacing Freeland at foreign affairs is Francois-Philippe Champagne, while Catherine McKenna has been moved from Environment and Climate Change to Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and her old portfolio was put in the hands of Jonathan Wilkinson. McKenna’s role will still have a focus on the environment, in the area of green infrastructure and public transit.

Eleven ministers kept their portfolios including Bill Morneau in finance and Harjit Sajjan in defence.

The swearing at Rideau Hall today was much more subdued than when Trudeau and the Liberals first took power in 2015. For starters, the public was not invited. Four years ago, amid much fanfare, the Prime Minister and his family and his new cabinet arrived by bus to the grounds of the Governor General. This time, each cabinet member arrived individually. As well, today’s swearing-in was only for those new to cabinet or who changed portfolios.

The 43rd Parliament begins December 5.