BLUESKY BRIEF - PM shuffles cabinet & prorogues parliament – August 18, 2020

Following the departure of Bill Morneau, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet to have Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland become Canada’s first female finance minister. Freeland is one of the most trusted members within the Liberal caucus and has helped the government deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn it has caused. Her appointment has been well received including praise from Ontario Premier Doug Ford who says he will “have her back” and “help her any way we can.” The official opposition, however, seems not too happy with Freeland’s new role. Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre told reporters that for Freeland “higher taxes are a religion” and she is “no different from Morneau.”

The prime minister also gave another title to Dominic LeBlanc, who is currently the President of the Queen’s Privy Council. The New Brunswick MP was sworn in as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, a role that he held before being diagnosed with cancer.

If you missed the physically distanced ceremony, here is the link from CBC News.

In addition to today’s shuffle, Trudeau announced plans to hit the reset button on his Liberal government that is now mired in an ethics controversy by seeking to prorogue Parliament until September 23rd. A vote of confidence on the new plan will also be held and then an economic update will likely be held in October.

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

This afternoon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in response to the resignation of Finance Minister Bill Morneau. The person tapped to replace the only person to serve as the finance minister in the five years of this Trudeau government is Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Freeland has earned a reputation as the go-to minister on the hardest files this government has faced. When the Trump Administration re-opened NAFTA, she was tasked with the renegotiation and was lauded for her handling of that extremely difficult situation. In the aftermath of a difficult election where regional tensions came to the surface, as a native Albertan, Freeland was tapped to lead on the relationship with the provinces. In both roles, she not only brought calm and results, but she also did so in a way that built good relationships with those who would naturally be ideological opponents.

In becoming the first woman to serve as a federal finance minister in Canada’s history, those experiences and that track record will be vital, not only in regard to her ability to do the job but also to the signal it sends to the country as a whole. Minister Morneau was the cabinet minister who gave the prime minister credibility with the business community and he needed to appoint someone who was able to comfort Bay Street in these difficult times. Given her recent work, she should be able to deliver on that important need as she leads Canada’s economic recovery efforts from COVID-19.

With the government announcing the prorogation of the House of Commons, Freeland will have a large influence on October’s throne speech and the direction of the government going forward. Given the dire economic situation Canada faces and the government’s need to refresh its agenda in the face of COVID and ethics investigations, she will be a vital part of the future of this Liberal government. It’s a lot of pressure to be put under, but through her political career, she has shown her ability to thrive under pressure and rise to the occasion. This government needs her to deliver once again and Canadians will be watching closely to see how she makes her mark on this government in these difficult times.

Face masks and elbow bumps at the physically distanced ceremony

It was a busy day for Principal Susan Smith, who appeared on CTV News Channel with Beverly Thomson just before the shuffle and was an early riser to speak with Heather Hiscox on CBC News Network.

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