Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle this morning. The operation was prompted by the decision of Minister Navdeep Bains not to run during next election.
Minister Bains (Mississauga-Malton) is leaving his position as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED). He is being replaced by François-Philippe Champagne (Saint-Maurice – Champlain) who was until today Minister of Foreign Affairs. Though this might appear as a step back for Champagne, it still let him manage a significant economic portfolio that will play a key role in post-COVID-19 economic relaunch. It also shores up Quebec position in cabinet. The province now has 10 MPs who are ministers, including key posts at Justice, Foreign Affairs, Economic Development, ISED and the PM himself.
Minister Marc Garneau (Notre-Dame-de-Grâces - Westmount) moves from Transport to Global Affairs, which is indeed a significant promotion.
MP Omar Alghabra (Mississauga-Centre) for his part, is promoted to the position of Minister of Transportation. A personal friend of the PM, he will replace Navdeep Bains as a strong influencer from key electoral constituency of Greater Toronto voters.
MP Jim Carr (Winnipeg South Centre) makes a comeback to cabinet, following a courageous fight with cancer. He will not be minister without portfolio and his focus will be on Western Canada affairs.
This shuffle is nothing to slow down talks about a spring federal election. Many think Prime Minister Trudeau is looking to make sure minsters are also in-line to run during next campaign, and Minister Bains decision to leave might be because he was asked for a renewed commitment to run.
Though this interpretation makes sense, we think it’s more about keeping all options open rather than a clear sign Liberals want to run to the polls.
As vaccination campaigns are picking up steam in many provinces, federal focus is quickly shifting towards making sure provinces will be sufficiently supplied with doses, wherever they are coming from. This ultimate fight against COVID-19 might well be the most significant item on our radar at this time. Prime Minister has chosen not to change any of his big players on healthcare and COVID-19 management. This is a sign government is also doubling down on their current strategy.