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

This concept artwork from July 2020 shows the inland port planned for the former Skeena Cellulose mill site in Terrace. (Image courtesy Hatha Callis, Progressive Ventures Group)
Terrace city council approves inland port OCP amendments

Project still requires zoning bylaw, development permit to continue

This copper frog pendant was made by Jamika Aksidan, a young Nisga’a artist who was recently recognized with an award for her work. (Photo courtesy Nisga’a Museum)
Nisga’a youth artist wins award

Award includes $500, exhibition in Nisga’a Museum

A BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

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

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 virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read