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

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

Boxing club owner Jesse Pineiro, Nelson’s 2021 sports ambassador, recommends the novel Hurry Home by Roz Nay, the new cultural ambassador, who has taken up boxing (at least for this photo). Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson bestows annual ambassadorships, awards

Residents recognized for achievements in arts, sports, heritage and sustainability

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

The Civic Theatre’s Eleanor Stacey writes there’s plenty of evidence to show theatres will rebound after the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
COLUMN: The future of cinema is bright

Why we can all expect to be seeing films on the big screen again soon enough

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

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

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kamloops hospital grows to 66 cases

A majority of cases remain among staff at Royal Inland Hospital

Most Read