Trudeau says he has no plans to trigger an election as he shuffles key cabinet positions
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he wants to vaccinate any willing Canadian before the next election – but pointed out that as Prime Minister in a minority parliament it is not entirely up to him.
“Every political party knows from the start that elections can take place. But as I’ve said time and again, we don’t want elections,” he told reporters at the Rideau Hall swearing-in ceremony this morning after Canada’s first virtual cabinet.
“We want to keep delivering vaccines to Canadians. We want to keep helping Canadians, small businesses and families. The priority all Canadians have right now is getting out of this pandemic and that’s what we’re focused on.”
Tuesday’s shuffle was sparked by Liberal MP Navdeep Bains, who announced that he would not run in the next election in order to spend more time with family.
In the transition, Francois-Philippe Champagne will replace Bains in Innovation, Science and Industry. Marc Garneau moves from transport to Champagne’s old job as the country’s top diplomat, while Mississauga Center MP Omar Alghabra has been promoted to cabinet to take on transport.
Winnipeg MP Jim Carr returns as a full member of Cabinet. After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he resigned as Minister for International Trade Diversification after suffering flu-like symptoms in the 2019 federal election campaign.
Today Carr returns to the cabinet table as Special Envoy for the Prairie.
When Champagne pressed for it to be said if the shuffle is part of the preparation for an election, he said Trudeau wanted ministers to serve “long term”.
“I think it goes without saying that the prime minister is looking ahead and surely wants ministers to be present to make sure we are facing one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history, certainly regarding the COVID- Crisis and the economy recovery, “he said during a media availability following the oath-taking ceremony.
CLOCK | Trudeau on the possibility of a choice
“I think it goes without saying that the Prime Minister wanted continuity in a transition to ensure that the people who are now serving in the Cabinet are there long-term to make sure we are serving the best interests of Canadians, whether or not it’s about creating jobs, whether it’s about keeping the health and safety of Canadians for the vaccine. “
Talk of an election comes as dismal new pandemic modeling numbers emerge in Ontario, suggesting that there will be more long-term care deaths in the second wave of the pandemic than in the first. As of January 1 of this year, 198 long-term care residents and two Ontario employees have died of COVID-19.
Garneau enters foreign affairs
In Garneau’s new role, he will develop a relationship with the new Biden administration in the United States
“I lived in the United States for nine years of my life and developed very close relationships. Two of my children were born there. I believe very, very strongly that no bilateral relationship is more important than Canada’s with the United States, and it will be be so.” continue to be like that, “he said.
“We are inextricably linked, be it trade, security or other matters. We look forward to working with the new administration under President Joe Biden, and of course that will be very, very soon.”
Garneau’s role will also lead him to keep pushing China for the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. The two Canadians have been detained in China for two years on charges of espionage. These allegations are widely seen in retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei CEO Meng Wanzhou in December 2018.
CLOCK | Jim Carr joins the Cabinet as the Prairie Special Envoy
One of the hottest files on Alghabra’s desk will be the ongoing conversation with the aviation industry, which has been pushing for a rescue package as the pandemic has dramatically slowed travel.
Shortly after the oaths were taken, Mike McNaney, president of the National Airlines Council of Canada, which represents Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet, made a statement asking for sector assistance.
“Federal government decisions in the coming weeks and months will have a direct and powerful impact on the future of Canadian aviation, the future of our people and the future of the communities we serve,” he wrote.
CLOCK | Alghabra contemplates advancing to cabinet
“Aviation is in crisis,” was his statement. “We are losing connectivity and service to communities across Canada at a rate that threatens to unwind billions of dollars in investments over the past decade that have supported hundreds of thousands of jobs and fueled levels of connectivity and service that fueled economic growth based in every region of Canada. “
Carr, who said he would be returning to the hospital for a stem cell transplant earlier this year, hopes to bring a Western perspective to the cabinet table.
“The most important part of my job is listening to the Prairie people I’ve done in a wide range of economic activities over the past 14 months,” he said.
“I hope to help the Prime Minister and my cabinet colleagues reach the west, reach the prairie west, and let the people who live here know how important the development of these provinces is to the good of the whole country. So I’ll keep doing that, now around the closet. “
The swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday with Governor General Julie Payette and Privy Council Secretary Ian Shugart was practically held due to the pandemic, a first in Canadian history.
My explanation of my decision not to run in the next elections and to leave the cabinet:
My explanation of my decision not to run for the next elections and to resign from the Council of Ministers: pic.twitter.com/c5OKDgXmfE
– @ NavdeepSBains
In his parting statement, Bains said that after six elections he had decided that 2019 would be his last and that he was stepping down from the cabinet.
“I lived the Canadian dream. I am the son of a carpenter who has had the opportunity to serve as cabinet minister,” he said in a statement released Tuesday morning.
“But it’s time for me to focus on the most important job I have in life – being a father.”
Trudeau last mixed the cabinet in August
The move takes place shortly before a virtual cabinet retreat, which is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Trudeau last shuffled his cabinet in August after former Treasury Secretary Bill Morneau announced he would step down from his key position in the context of the WE Charity controversy to run for the next Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) .
Morneau was investigated by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion after he revealed he had to repay WE Charity $ 41,366 in travel expenses the organization paid for him. Dion closed his investigation in October.
Morneau was replaced by then-Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Minister Chrystia Freeland, who made Dominic LeBlanc responsible for inter-provincial relations while maintaining the position of Deputy Prime Minister in her new office.