Update: Wednesday’s cabinet shuffle an attempt to read the mood: SFU expert

Laurie Tritschler / November 21, 2019

Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet will include seven new faces, with few ministers remaining in their portfolios.

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.

“Today, I can introduce the strong, diverse, and experienced team that will work together to tackle the big issues that matter to people from coast to coast to coast. Whether it’s making life more affordable for the middle class, taking action on climate change, or keeping our communities safe we will continue working tirelessly for all Canadians.” – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Remaining in their posts are Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjin.

Morneau is generally disliked across the prairies, noted Jeram, adding that the Finance Minister’s strong reputation among corporate interests on Toronto’s Bay Street is likely to draw the ire of Western Canadians who billed Trudeau’s first administration “a globalist government.”

Jeram explained that while the cabinet shakeup was unremarkable in terms of its scope, Trudeau’s addition of five new portfolio ministries is noteworthy.

Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney congratulated all parliamentarians in a Tweet Wednesday. Kenney added his administration wants to work within “Canadian federation” to “find common ground” with Ottawa.

It will fall to Trudeau’s new Deputy Whip Ginette Petitpas to shepherd the Liberals’ agenda after the new parliament convenes on December 6th.

As in 2015, the new Liberal cabinet is gender-balanced, with 18 women serving alongside 18 men.