Menu

Who Leads the Land? The Appointment of the Federal Cabinet

“A hundred years ago, Canada had a Ministry of Railways and Canals and a Ministry Of Overseas Military Forces.”[1]

The above quote highlights an element of government cabinets – they do not stay the same. Cabinet ministers change, as do the ministries themselves. Ministries are a reflection of economic and social realities. During wartime, a Ministry of Overseas Military Forces made sense.

In the aftermath of the recent federal election, two newly created ministries, the Ministry of Middle Class Prosperity and the Ministry of Inclusion, Diversity and Youth, shed light on the Liberal Party’s perception of what is important in today’s social and economic climate.

The Cabinet and the Aftermarket

Mary Ng, MP Markham-Thornhill, has some new added responsibilities for international trade in addition to her role as Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion. The international trade portfolio often has closer ties to the automakers than to the aftermarket, due to the nature of the industry. It will be interesting to see how the Minister will respond to the automotive aftermarkets interests.

Navdeep Bains, MP Mississauga-Malton, staying on as Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry (Ministry name change from Innovation, Science and Economic Development) is a major win for AIA Canada and the aftermarket. Over the last year, AIA Canada has engaged extensively with personnel from the Ministry who remain in their positions.

Interesting Takeaways from the Appointment of Cabinet Ministers

Trudeau’s gender-equal cabinet is growing; up to 37 ministers from 31 in 2015.[2] While this may seem like a significant jump in numbers, it is not out of line with other modern federal cabinets. In Harper’s second term, his cabinet numbered 40 strong.[3]

(1) National Unity

National unity factored heavily into Trudeau’s cabinet appointments.[4] The Liberals suffered a complete shut-out in Alberta and Saskatchewan in last month’s election; the party was left without a single seat in either province. Issues including equalization, energy markets and economic hardship are considered to be influential factors in the election outcome. This division between Ottawa and the Prairie Provinces was a key consideration when selecting the cabinet.

Complicating matters for Trudeau was that Members of Parliament (MP) who belong to the party in power are often appointed as cabinet members. With no Liberal MP from Saskatchewan or Alberta, but a need to achieve Prairie representation in cabinet, Trudeau appointed Jim Carr, “the highest-profile Prairie Liberal to survive October's election,”[5] to the role of special representative to the Prairies. Dan Vandal, an MP from Manitoba, was appointed the new Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Jonathan Wilkinson, grew up in Saskatoon.[6]

High-profile Chrystia Freeland, MP University-Rosedale, respected by many for her tact in handling relations between Canada and the United States in her previous role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was appointed to the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Her appointment to Intergovernmental Affairs has been seen as an effort to “overcome regional tensions and find ways for the federal government to respond meaningfully to the demands of the regions.”[7]

(2) Less of Trudeau and More of the Cabinet Team?

Interestingly, Prime Ministers often give themselves the job of Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Some have viewed Trudeau’s appointment of Freeland to the position, and his promotion of those with solid communication skills and a proven track record in government, as a signal that Canadians might be seeing less of Trudeau over the next few years — and more of the team.[8]

(3) A Thank-You to Supporters

The cabinet includes a “remarkably large number of Liberal MPs from the two provinces that kept the party in power”[9] – Quebec and Ontario. While the number of seats around the cabinet table taken up by representatives from Quebec and Ontario should come as no surprise, “it does mean that these two provinces now have more clout in cabinet than they've enjoyed in decades.”[10] Seventeen cabinet ministers or 46% of Cabinet, hail from Ontario.[11] Quebec follows with 11 ministers (including Trudeau) or 30% of Cabinet.[12]

To put a face to a Minister’s name, click here:

https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/ministries


[1] Parliament of Canada. (n.d). Our country, our parliament: An introduction to how Canada’s parliament works. The Cabinet. Retrieved from https://lop.parl.ca/about/parliament/education/ourcountryourparliament/html_booklet/cabinet-e.html

[2] Globe Staff. (Nov. 20, 2019). Meet the new cabinet. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-trudeau-cabinet-full-list/

[3] Globe Staff. (Nov. 20, 2019). Meet the new cabinet. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-trudeau-cabinet-full-list/

[4] Hall, C. (Nov. 20, 2019). Trudeau's cabinet picks seem designed to project stability, seriousness, Social Sharing. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-cabinet-alberta-saskatchewan-1.5366626

[5] Globe Staff. (Nov. 20, 2019). Meet the new cabinet. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-trudeau-cabinet-full-list/

[6] Globe Staff. (Nov. 20, 2019). Meet the new cabinet. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-trudeau-cabinet-full-list/

[7] Leblanc, D. & Fife, R.  (Nov. 20, 2019). Deputy PM Freeland to oversee relations with U.S. and provinces in Trudeau’s new cabinet. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-deputy-pm-freeland-to-oversee-relations-with-us-and-provinces-in/

[8] Hall, C. (Nov. 20, 2019). Trudeau's cabinet picks seem designed to project stability, seriousness, Social Sharing. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-cabinet-alberta-saskatchewan-1.5366626

[9] Nanos, N. (Nov. 23, 2019). Nanos on the Numbers: Trudeau's political craftiness in his cabinet making. CTV News. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/nanos-on-the-numbers-trudeau-s-political-craftiness-in-his-cabinet-making-1.4698130

[10] Nanos, N. (Nov. 23, 2019). Nanos on the Numbers: Trudeau's political craftiness in his cabinet making. CTV News. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/nanos-on-the-numbers-trudeau-s-political-craftiness-in-his-cabinet-making-1.4698130

[11] Nanos, N. (Nov. 23, 2019). Nanos on the Numbers: Trudeau's political craftiness in his cabinet making. CTV News.Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/nanos-on-the-numbers-trudeau-s-political-craftiness-in-his-cabinet-making-1.4698130

[12] Grenier, E. (Nov. 22, 2019).Trudeau’s cabinet picks rewarded the 2 provinces that kept him in power. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/grenier-cabinet-regions-1.5368127