Written by Chris Gray
When the Prime Minister visits the Governor General on November 20th to unveil his new cabinet, we can expect significant changes. Reduced from 177 seats to 157, including losing a high-profile Minister in Ralph Goodale, there are some holes. Over the next few weeks, we will hear many rumours as the vetting process begins and MPs start to field calls to gauge their interest in serving in cabinet. The Prime Minister, who has once again committed to a gender balanced cabinet, will also have to factor in rewarding long-serving MPs, keeping some current core cabinet ministers and rewarding key high-profile rookies who knocked off key opposition MPs. And of course, the Prime Minster will have to figure out how best to serve Western Canada’s interest in cabinet with no MPs in Alberta or Saskatchewan. So, let’s take a closer look.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba
The West is a mess for the Prime Minister. With no seats in either Alberta or Saskatchewan, he may be forced to do something unconventional to ensure they are represented around the cabinet table. Since a cabinet minister does not have to be a sitting MP, the Prime Minister could look to appoint a Senator or two from those provinces, which is not unprecedented. Rumours continue that there are ongoing discussions with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Trudeau could also designate a minister from B.C. or Manitoba to cover off Alberta and Saskatchewan. This will be one of the most important early decisions for this minority government. Reduced to only four seats in Manitoba, it’s quite possible that two of the four will be awarded a cabinet seat. With Jim Carr’s recent cancer diagnosis, it would be very surprising to see him return to cabinet, where he serves as the Minister of International Trade Diversification. That leaves Dan Vandal (Saint Boniface-Saint Vital), Terry Duguid (Winnipeg South) and Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North) with a very good chance to be promoted.
In British Columbia, Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South) and Carla Qualtrough (Delta) both performed well in their roles at Defence and Public Services respectively – they should be a lock to return. We don’t expect a lot of changes to the BC representatives in cabinet – Joyce Murray could also return; she served as the Minister of Digital Government and Treasury Board last Parliament. If the Prime Minister wants to have a northern representative, his choice will be between Larry Bagnell (Yukon) and Michael McLeod (Northwest Territories).
Looking to the Maritimes, it’s a safe bet that Seamus O’Regan (St. John’s South-Mt. Pearl) will return to cabinet, as well as Bernadette Jordan (South Shore-St. Margarets) who easily won her seat over the Conservative challenger. Watch for newcomers Lenore Zann (Cumberland-Colchester) and Jaime Battiste (Sydney-Victoria) to get some consideration. Zann served the last 10 years as an NDP MLA, and Battiste is a lawyer by training and a member of the Potlotek First Nation. And with PEI returning all four of its Liberal MPs, we can once again anticipate that either Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan) or Wayne Easter (Malpeque) will come back to cabinet. MacAulay, the dean of the House having been an MP since 1988, served as the Veterans Affairs Minister last Parliament, while Easter was the Finance Committee Chair. In New Brunswick, look for both Dominic Leblanc (Beausejour) and Ginette Petitpas-Taylor (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe) to have a seat at the table again. Last Parliament, Leblanc served as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Petitpas-Taylor was the Health Minister.
In Quebec, we won’t be surprised to see former cabinet members Marc Garneau (Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Westmount), Francois-Phillipe Champagne (Saint-Maurice-Champlain), Melanie Joly (Ahunistic-Cartierville) and David Lametti (Lasalle-Emard-Verdun) all returned. We don’t expect to See Diane Lebouthiller (Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine) come back given the fact that she struggled at times at the Canada Revenue Agency. Look for a newcomer to take her place, possibly Rachel Bendayan (Outremont).
Seat-rich Ontario will be a tough balancing act once again for Trudeau. The GTA was well represented last Parliament and you can expect more of the same this time around. Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre), Chrystia Freeland (University Rosedale), Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North), Karina Gould (Burlington) should be locks to get back in. Around the province, Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre) will be back, but anticipate a change from Environment for her. Karen McCrimmon (Kanata-Carleton) is worthy of consideration, possibly for Veterans Affairs given her military background and having defeated a high-profile Conservative candidate. Adam van Koeverden (Milton) beat long-time Conservative Lisa Raitt and will surely get a look for a portfolio like Sport. Another name to watch for possible cabinet from Ontario – Irek Kusmierczyk (Windsor-Tecumseh) who won in an NDP stronghold, taking the riding for the Liberals for the first time since 2000.