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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

Ontario’s new cabinet members with Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell (front row centre). (Image obtained from @fordnationdougford, Instagram)

A little less than a year ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stood on the steps of Queen’s Park and was sworn in, along with his then-21-member cabinet. I was there with hundreds of others to witness that historic event and was genuinely pleased to see so many of the hard-working MPPs I had campaigned with be promoted to cabinet. This morning, in an attempt to hit the refresh button, a surprisingly large cabinet shuffle was announced, with many new faces becoming ministers, and several more changing portfolios. Knowing the shuffle was coming, one can always expect surprises, but the volume of changes and some of the reassignments caught many off guard, including me.

Cabinet increased in size to 28 after today’s shuffle, including five newly-created Associate Ministries. Only nine members of cabinet, including Premier Ford, kept their original positions. Twelve members of last year’s cabinet changed roles, and there are seven new faces. When the Ford government announced a smaller cabinet last year, they wanted to demonstrate fiscal responsibility compared to their Liberal predecessors. Now it seems there is a realization that more hands are needed to manage the significant work that needs to get done at Queen’s Park.

In recent months, there has been consistent criticism that the government mishandled communications across several key ministries, including Finance, Education, and Children’s Services. Not surprisingly, there were wholesale changes across all of these senior ministries. Former Environment Minister Rod Phillips takes over from Vic Fedeli in Finance. Phillips is largely viewed as having handled his former role well, despite its challenges, and is considered a good communicator – something the government badly needs as they aim to convince Ontarians of the need to slay the deficit. Christine Elliott stays on as Health Minister; however, as anticipated, her ministry was split and Dr. Merilee Fullerton from Ottawa takes on the Ministry of Long Term Care. In addition, the former Minister of Tourism, Michael Tibollo, assumes the newly created role of Associate Minister of Mental Health & Addictions under the Ministry of Health.

New Cabinet Members

Notable new faces include King Vaughan MPP and former PA to the Premier, Stephen Lecce, who received a significant promotion as the new Minister of Education. Lecce is considered to be a hard-working MPP and now assumes a contentious and difficult ministry. I had the chance to get to know Minister Lecce during last year’s election and there are few that campaigned as hard as he did. Barrie-area MPP Doug Downey, another candidate I got to know last year and a solid individual,  becomes the new Attorney General. Downey performed well as the PA to Finance and is well-regarded as someone capable of entering cabinet. Former federal MP and current MPP for Markham Stouffville, Paul Calandra (another York Region MPP), becomes the new Government House Leader.

Ministers with their Original Role

Among members who maintained their previous roles are Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, Energy, Northern Affairs, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs Greg Rickford, and Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman. These ministers managed their files well and were generally free of any controversy during year one of the Ford government’s mandate.

Ministers with Different Roles

Some are suggesting that several ministers, including Caroline Mulroney, Lisa Thompson, and Lisa MacLeod, were demoted to lesser roles in government; however, all of their new ministries have important issues for them to deal with. Todd Smith, largely viewed as a great communicator, takes over from Lisa MacLeod in the role of Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. He has a big task ahead to stickhandle the ongoing autism file, but Premier Ford must feel he’s up for the job.

Despite rampant rumours leading up to this morning’s announcement that members would be fired and there would be resignations and by-elections, there were no departures from cabinet. This is important and bodes well for the Ford government in that he clearly still has caucus support and caucus unity. The next year will be critical for this government as they attempt to improve their polling numbers by doing a better job communicating their priorities to the people of Ontario. I suspect the Premier and his staff planned this shuffle before announcing they would not return to the legislature until the end of October. Two thirds of the cabinet just received volumes of new reading material to review during the summer months.

Organizations have a great opportunity to meet these new ministers over the coming months. Need help communicating with government?

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