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Written by Chris Gray, Senior Consultant

As promised, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his new gender-balanced cabinet yesterday afternoon. There are now 36 cabinet ministers with 10 of those coming from Quebec, despite only having elected 35 Liberal MPs from the province in last month’s election. The Prime Minister has assembled a strong team to govern during this minority Parliament, rewarding those ministers who have been solid performers by keeping many in their same portfolios for stability and bringing in some new faces with diverse backgrounds.

There were some notable promotions, with Chrystia Freeland moving from Foreign Affairs to become the Deputy Prime Minister and François-Philippe Champagne moving to Foreign Affairs. Approximately half of the cabinet members from the previous parliamentary session have held onto their portfolios: Bill Morneau remains at Finance; Navdeep Bains stays at Innovation, Science, and Industry; Marie-Claude Bibeau holds onto Agriculture and Agri-Food; Marc Garneau stays at Transport; and David Lametti remains the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Notable deletions from cabinet include Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, who was the Health Minister and Kirsty Duncan who was the Minister of Science.

Some key shifts:

Notable new faces in Trudeau’s cabinet this time around, including seven rookies:

  • Rookie Oakville MP Anita Anand is the Minister of Public Services and Procurement;
  • Manitoba MP Dan Vandal is the Minister of Northern Affairs;
  • Toronto MP Marco Mendocino becomes the Minister of Immigration;
  • Rookie Montreal MP Stephen Guilbeault is the new Minister of Canadian Heritage.

So what about western representation? The Prime Minister was stuck between a rock and a hard place with no MPs in either Saskatchewan or Alberta. He has appointed Winnipeg MP Jim Carr, the former Natural Resources Minister, as the government’s special representative in the Prairies. Presumably his role will include regular liaison with western MPs of all stripes and provincial governments to ensure the government is listening to their priorities.

The government will be focused on continuing to tackle climate change and ensure the country’s economic growth by investing further in Canada’s natural resources, particularly in the west with pipelines and oil. And of course, ratification of the USMCA trade deal between Canada/U.S./Mexico is still to be completed.

We anticipate that this minority government will be in place anywhere from 18 months to two years. It will be important for stakeholders to connect with MPs, ministers and their staff in the early days of the new government to establish relationships and put issues on the table. And we must remember that with a minority Parliament, opposition MPs and critics can play an important role in the House of Commons and in Committees.

The Governor General will read the Speech from the Throne on Thursday, December 5th and Parliament will sit for the next week to take care of house keeping items before breaking for Christmas and returning on January 27th. Over the next week, stakeholders can anticipate the release of the Minister’s mandate letters and the announcement of Parliamentary Secretaries to support the Ministers.

Grassroots is ready to assist your organization in Ottawa with any federal engagement or strategic advice you may require as you plan your advocacy efforts.

The members of the cabinet are:

Written by Chris Gray

Canadian Parliament buildings
Photo by James Beheshti on Unsplash

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.

British Columbia

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).

The Maritimes

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.

Quebec

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).

Ontario

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.

Written by Peter Seemann

Photo by Pam Menegakis on Unsplash

A week has passed since the votes were counted and Canadians handed Justin Trudeau a second mandate – albeit a minority with strings attached. Unlike other recent elections, the pollsters and pundits were largely accurate in their result predictions. Much has been written since last week’s votes were tabulated, yet here are a few observations from Grassroots that we feel are important to note.

Minority for 4 years

While the Liberals only managed to win a minority government, it’s not likely to fall any time soon. The Liberals will enjoy the support of the NDP on many issues and given the financial reality both parties face, it is unlikely either will want to trigger an early election. The Fall Economic Statement will likely shed light on early priorities of this government. We anticipate the governing Liberals to move forward as if they have a majority government, at least in the first year or two. With the electorate fed up with the mudslinging and negative politics of this recent campaign, no party wants to be responsible for triggering another vote anytime soon.

Climate change only increasing in Canadians’ minds

Protest sign saying "There is no Planet B"
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Regardless of what you believe is the truth and what you believe should be done, Canadians increasingly are looking for government to show leadership in dealing with climate change. The path forward for Prime Minister Trudeau and his government will not be easy. He has repeated his commitment to build the Trans Mountain pipeline which will draw cheers and jeers from opposing sides. At the same time his government implemented a carbon tax and will push forward with other initiatives that will challenge Canada to reach the Paris Climate Agreement. While the federal Conservatives picked up 26 seats and won the popular vote, they were widely criticized for not properly communicating or putting forward a strong enough environmental plan. Environmental concerns have risen before and are routinely overshadowed by economic concerns when times get tough. Most Canadians have enjoyed a long period of prosperity. It will be interesting to watch how this government balances the environment and economics if and when a long overdue recession finally comes.

New faces mean continued lobbying required

In total there were 91 rookie MPs elected across all party lines. There were also 7 MPs elected that have previously served in government but did not serve in the last 4 year term. A new cabinet will be sworn in by next month and once parliament resumes new committees will be formed. Lots of new faces mean more work to be done on the Hill communicating your message to government.

What’s your plan? Need help? The Grassroots team is ready to assist!

Turnout was exceptionally low – even by by-election standards

  • Burnaby South: 29.9%
  • Outremont: 21.4%
  • York-Simcoe: 19.9%

When we look back at the last major wave of by-elections in December of 2017 we see relatively higher levels in turnout – most notably in British Columbia.  

  • South Surrey–White Rock: 38.1%
  • Battlefords–Lloydminster: 26.9%
  • Scarborough Agincourt: 26.8%
  • Bonavista–Burin–Trinity: 21.4%

Geography matters and the winning parties won in areas they need in 2019

  • Liberals were able to pick up a fairly strong NDP seat despite pollsters showing the party’s support across Canada decreasing overall.
  • Quebec is home to a great number of NDP seats and if the Liberals wish to remain in power they will have to win over many of the ridings held by NDP incumbents.
  • The NDP under Singh has lost a great deal of support in Quebec and Outremont reflects this as the party’s share of the vote declined by 18%.
  • The NDP will absolutely need to eat away at Liberal held ridings in BC to make up for their loss of support in Quebec.
  • The Tories were able to hang on to a safe seat in a strategically important region of Ontario. The increase in support for right-of-centre candidates in the riding would Liberal strategists something to think about as they will need to win parts of suburban Toronto if they want to stay in power. The Liberals’ share of the vote declined by 8.8% from 2015.

Maxime Bernier is an oddball and is a tad of a thorn in the side of the Tories

  • Bernier’s best performance last night was in Burnaby South where he obtained 10.6% of the vote. The Tory share of the vote dropped by 4.6% which means that many conservatives could have casted their ballots for Bernier but the PPC was still able to drum up its own support organically. His performance in the riding has confused many pols and pundits alike. Expect to see the PPC tout its performance out west as a “sign to come”.
  • Despite being considered the renegade “Albertan from Quebec”, Bernier still draws a fair bit of his power from his home province. However, the riding of Outremont saw Bernier obtain just 2.1% of the vote. It is believed that this largely came at the expense of the Conservatives as the CPC share of the vote in the riding during this by-election declined by 2.2% from their performance in 2015. The same cannot be said for Bernier in Ontario as his share of the vote was 1.9% and the Tories were able to increase their share of the vote by 3.7%.

Adrian Macaulay, Director of Research & Polling