Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands in front of his cabinet as he speaks to media during the final day of the Liberal cabinet retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands in front of his cabinet as he speaks to media during the final day of the Liberal cabinet retreat at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Sudoma

Trudeau shuffles cabinet as Bains plans to retire from politics

It was the first virtual swearing-in ceremony in Canadian history

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has conducted a small shuffle of his ministers before holing up later in the day for a cabinet retreat to plot strategy for the resumption of Parliament.

The shuffle is due to the departure of Navdeep Bains, who stepped down as innovation minister Tuesday and is not intending to run again in the next election.

In the first virtual swearing-in ceremony in Canadian history, François-Philippe Champagne shed his title as foreign minister to take up Bains’ former role, while ex-transport minister Marc Garneau moved into Champagne’s old job.

Toronto-area MP Omar Alghabra took over the Transport portfolio, which has seen 10 months of turbulence since the pandemic prompted a travel industry collapse and controversy over refunds for flight cancellations.

Jim Carr also returned to cabinet as minister without portfolio and special representative to the Prairies.

The former minister for international trade diversification stepped down after announcing his diagnosis with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in October 2019.

In a video message posted Tuesday morning, Bains said that after six elections, he wants to spend more time with his family.

“They have sacrificed so much over the last 17 years. This last year has been hard on families,” says the MP from Mississauga, Ont. “My daughters, who are in Grade 5 and Grade 8, have needed me more in the last year and I’ve needed them, too. It’s time for me to put my family first, and I couldn’t be happier about it.”

Trudeau has been clear that he wants departments crucial to the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to be overseen by ministers who will be around to help sell the government’s agenda during the next election campaign.

The shuffle, which played out online in a streamlined ceremony stripped of pomp and ritual overseen by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, follows a smaller round of musical chairs triggered by the resignation of then-finance minister Bill Morneau in August. Chrystia Freeland replaced Morneau while keeping her role as deputy prime minister.

The cabinet retreat — four one-day sessions to take place over the next two weeks — is to focus on what more the government needs to do to manage the pandemic, which continues to rage across the country, including ways to accelerate the rollout of vaccines.

It is also supposed to focus on the eventual economic recovery and the Liberal government’s plans to invest billions in the fight against climate change, job creation, affordable housing, skills training and a national child-care program.

The retreat is taking place as the government prepares for the resumption of Parliament on Jan. 25, in what is bound to be a more aggressively partisan environment.

The pandemic forced a measure of cross-party co-operation last year, which allowed Trudeau’s minority Liberal government to operate without any serious threat to its survival.

But the spirit of collaboration was badly strained by the end of last year and is likely to evaporate altogether this year, particularly once the the government introduces a budget expected to send the already-historic federal deficit into the stratosphere.

The government will need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to survive a confidence vote on the budget.

Trudeau began holding periodic cabinet retreats six years ago, billing them as a way to encourage bonding among ministers while getting outside the Ottawa bubble.

COVID-19 put an end to the regional outreach aspect of cabinet retreats last September. Trudeau and his ministers confined themselves to a few days holed up in a government building in the nation’s capital to ponder how to get the country through what was then just the start of the second wave.

And now the pandemic is putting an end to the bonding aspect of retreats as well.

Trudeau will be hosting a retreat that will be entirely virtual, with ministers participating via videoconference from separate locations around the country.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

cabinet shuffleLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NES hosts grades 5 - 7 in Hagensborg (file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Nusatsum Elementary School

The exposure was in grade 5 and took place Jan. 6, 2021

Jeffery Snow has been our community paramedic for the past three years and has worked as a paramedic for over three decades. He is now certified to offer COVID-19 testing to clients (Caitlin Thompson photo)
Bella Coola’s community paramedic can now test people for COVID-19

Jeffery Snow became certified to offer COVID-19 testing on Jan. 13, 2021

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7 (file photo)
COVID-19 cases climb to 25 in Bella Coola

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at Cariboo Memorial Hospital by Interior Health. IH said Wednesday afternoon four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cariboo Memorial Hospital by Interior Health

Four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19

SD49 has suspended in-class instruction due to rising COVID-19 cases (file photo)
SD49 suspends face-to-face instruction due to COVID-19

School is still open for childcare services

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read