In appointing prairie-born Chrystia Freeland and Jonathan Wilkinson to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister, Justin Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle was an olive branch respectively extended at Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to political scientist, Sanjay Jeram. But the Simon Fraser University professor doubts if the gesture will “bode well” after no Liberal Members of Parliament won election in either province in October’s federal election.
Trudeau withdrew Freeland’s Foreign Affairs portfolio because her diplomatic skills would be better put to use in her native Alberta, but Jeram qualified that Albertans won’t overlook that she now represents a riding in Toronto. Meanwhile, he explained that her new role as Deputy PM carries no Constitutional authority.
Jeram noted that much the same can be said of outgoing Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson. In his analysis, it is the Saskatchewan-born Wilkinson’s job as Environment Minister to “sell” the so-called “no more pipelines” Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, which aims to keep oil tankers out of waters between Northern Vancouver Island and Alaska. “He’s not going to be looked on favourably,” said Jeram, who noted prairie voters are likely to associate Wilkinson with his North Vancouver riding, a region of Western Canada many in Alberta and Saskatchewan associate with hostility to the province’s oil and gas sectors.