Government International Affairs

Trudeau’s minor cabinet shuffle puts Liberals on election standby

After almost seventeen years in public life, now former Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry, Navdeep Bains will be stepping away from politics to focus on his family and his foremost role in fathering his two daughters. Although Bains was not one of this administration’s most high-profile cabinet ministers, his presence at the decision making table and leadership shown in his role was a great strength for the Trudeau ally and his party.

As Bains will not be seeking re-election, deciding to leave the cabinet table was a natural decision by this government, which can topple at any moment seeing as it governs a minority parliament. The Prime Minister revealed at a press conference that his Minister of Industry had asked him to go for a “walk in the snow” to talk over his future, which was already an indication of the fact that he would be leaving. Despite being prepared to talk him into staying, the Prime Minister soon realized that this was going to be the best course of action for Mr. Bains and his family.

Considering that the ministerial departure opened a hole in the administration’s decision making core, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promptly had Minister of Foreign Affairs, Francois-Philippe Champagne reassigned to the vacant Industry portfolio. To fill in the gaps, Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau took over as an able and experienced Minister of Foreign Affairs, and backbench MP, Omar Alghabra was promoted to the Transport file.

Both Bains and newly-sworn in Minister Alghabra represent Mississauga constituencies, which are always in play during election campaigns. In addition to being a close confidante to the Prime Minister, Alghabra’s presence in the Greater Toronto Area ensures that he will be a key player in the national and local campaign efforts whenever the next election is called.

Shifting focus to Trudeau’s new picks for the Foreign Affairs and Innovation portfolios, it is clear that the Prime Minister was looking to leverage each of Garneau’s and Champagne’s unique skillsets while reinforcing a stable and competent image of his cabinet. Garneau, a PhD holder in electrical engineering, retired Captain of the Canadian Navy, former astronaut and President of the Canadian Space Agency, has significant knowledge and experience that will prove to be critical in maintaining a stable foreign outlook at least until the next election. As for Champagne, it’s no secret that the dynamic Minister may be positioning to succeed Trudeau as Liberal leader once the Prime Minister’s time comes to an end, and the Industry portfolio provides far greater domestic exposure and financial clout than Foreign Affairs. Even still, Champagne’s notable work with multiple tech innovators on the global scale more than justifies his new role.

Despite downplaying his desire for an election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is clearly preparing for the inevitable, sooner rather than later. The reality is that the Liberals are rising in the polls, which is reason enough for a scandal-plagued government to call an election, but in addition to that, an incumbent minority government needs to look to refresh its mandate as soon as possible before opposition has an opportunity to make a power grab. Although the circumstances of a pandemic are far from ideal, they won’t stop this Liberal government from going to the polls at the most opportune moment.

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