Several Ministers Are Out As Trudeau Shakes Up Canada’s Cabinet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau address the world law congress at the United Nations, Friday, July 21, 2023. (Christinne Muschi /The Canadian Press via AP)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a major Cabinet shake-up on Wednesday as he readies his team for the next federal election.

Trudeau removed seven ministers and changed 23 portfolios. Defense, immigration, justice, public safety, health, and transport are among the departments with new ministers.

Several ministers are out after saying they wouldn’t run in the next election, which must take place by October 2025, but it could be called well before then. Polls indicate Trudeau’s Liberal Party is trailing the rival Conservatives.

“We expect to be able to govern for a couple of more years,” Trudeau said. “No election is expected before fall, 2025 and we have a great deal of work to do.”

Trudeau channeled the star power of his father, the Liberal icon and late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, when he first won in 2015, but scandals, voter fatigue and economic inflation have taken a toll after eight years in power.

Trudeau’s legacy includes embracing immigration at a time when the U.S. and other countries closed their doors. He also legalized cannabis nationwide, brought in a carbon tax to fight climate change and brought in affordable child care. And he preserved a free trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico amid threats by former U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap the agreement.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will remain in both jobs.

Anita Anand, who has led Canada’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is leaving the defense portfolio to become president of the Treasury Board, while former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is replacing her.

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc is adding public safety to his portfolio, former immigration minister Sean Fraser becomes housing minister and Marc Miller is taking on immigration. Cabinet newcomer Arif Virani is taking on justice, replacing outgoing minister David Lametti. Mark Holland, who was the government House leader, becomes health minister.

Marco Mendicino, the outgoing public safety minister, thanked the prime minister and said he would run in the next election despite being bumped from the Cabinet. Mendicino recently faced criticism for his office’s handling of the recent prison transfer of a notorious serial killer.

The Cabinet is gender-balanced, a trend that Trudeau has kept up since he was first elected in 2015.

Trudeau leads a stable minority government that is backed by the opposition leftist New Democrat party. Together, the two parties have enough seats in Parliament to pass legislation.

“It is not unusual for a prime minister to shuffle his Cabinet about halfway through a term. What is unusual is the scope of the shuffle,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “The Trudeau Liberals have been on the defensive for some time. They will continue to be so despite the changing face of Cabinet and the new titles for ministers.”

Wiseman doesn’t expect an election anytime soon.

“Ten years has been about the average shelf life of prime ministers for the past 75 years. Trudeau is approaching that mark. After failing to win majorities two elections in a row, it is highly unlikely he will be able to secure a majority in any future election,” he said.