In an effort to have a cabinet full of MPs that will be running in the next federal election, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle early Tuesday morning. Although Marie-Claude Bibeau will remain as the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, agriculture could be impacted by several of the moves.
Omar Alghabra, previously Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Public Service Renewal) and to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, was sworn in as Minister of Transport on Tuesday. He will take over for Marc Garneau, who has been shifted to Foreign Affairs. The transport portfolio touches key elements of getting product from farm to rail to port.
Innovation, Science and Industry
François-Philippe Champagne will leave Foreign Affairs to lead the Innovation, Science and Industry portfolio, taking over for Navdeep Bains, who is not running for election again. Champagne’s role includes oversight of the science superclusters, including Protein Industries Canada.
Marc Garneau, currently Minister of Transport, becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs. As the Minister of Transport Garneau led the passing of Bill-C49, which was aimed at minimizing future grain backlogs. In his new role Garneau will be faced with stiff challenges on China, but will regain the U.S. as a strong diplomatic ally that his predecessor was not afforded.
A Prairie Representative
With few prairie seats, growing frustrations and questions on the West’s role in confederation, Winnipeg MP Jim Carr’s position as special representative to the prairies will now be a cabinet position. Carr had stepped down from cabinet due to a battle with cancer.
Finally, in addition to serving as Special Representative for the Prairies, @JimCarr_Wpg joins the Ministry. Jim’s health has improved, and we’re looking forward to having him back at the Cabinet table where he’ll continue to be a strong advocate for people in the Prairies.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 12, 2021
Meanwhile, questions have been raised about the amount of autonomy or power these ministers have in light of the influence of the Prime Minister’s Office on the government’s direction.
“Not to sound cynical but, except for Chrystia Freeland, ministers mostly just do what Trudeau’s office tells them to do (as was the case with every PM before him). So shuffles of this sort don’t change the course of government one bit,” notedd Don Martin, former CTV PowerPlay host, in a tweet.