Canadian Cabinet Shuffling

Aaron Propp - 1B Electrical
Posted on: January 14, 2017

Justin Trudeau undertook his first major cabinet shuffle Tuesday, pushing out some Liberal stalwarts from the inner circle, while bringing up and coming MPs to more prominent roles. John McCallum was moved to being Canadian ambassador to China. He was a key player as former immigration minister, in bringing in 39,500 Syrian refugees. His replacement Ahmed Hussen, the first Somali-Canadian minister, came to Canada as an unaccompanied teenager and is one of the younger MPs appointed to cabinet.

Maryam Monsef was moved to the Status of Women file, with Karina Gould taking over as minister for Democratic Institutions. Monsef started off as the youngest cabinet minister, 31 years old, and an Afghani refugee who rose to prominence, showing what’s possible in Canada. However, government handling of this file derailed it, with a lack of commitment to holding a referendum on electoral reform or not. In addition, the government established a committee with no clear-cut goals other than to investigate electoral reform.

After the committee made its report, Monsef criticized the committee for failing to do any work in parliament. She apologized, saying “In no way did I intend to imply that they didn’t work hard, that they didn’t put in the long hours, that they didn’t focus on the task at hand.” Additionally, the online quiz mydemocracy.ca pushed by her ministry was roundly criticized both in parliament and out as being misleading and vague, likened to a Buzzfeed quiz by some.

Trudeau picking Karina Gould as the new youngest minister, at age 29, is a turnaround. Gould, earnest and authentic, represents Burlington. She conducted her undergraduate thesis at McGill on electoral reform, giving her some background in the file.

Chrystia Freeland is getting a promotion to foreign affairs minister. This follows closing the Canada-EU free trade deal, seen as a clear victory for the former international trade minister. Replacing her is François-Philippe Champagne, instantly becoming a key player in the Liberal front bench. He previously worked under the finance minister, touting his idea of an Invest in Canada Hub. One of the planks of his vision is pitching a more unified image of Canada on the international trade scene.

Getting bumped out of foreign affairs of course is Stéphane Dion. He is supposedly been offered “a very senior position” but has requested time to consider. Meanwhile, he has wished Chrystia Freeland the “best of luck” in her new position.

Dion wrote in a statement from his office that “Now, [he] shall deploy [his] efforts outside active politics. [He] ha[s] enjoyed political life, especially when [he] was able to make a difference to benefit [his] fellow citizens. I emerge full of energy … renewable! But politics is not the only way to serve one’s country. Fortunately!”

MaryAnn Mihychuk has been removed from Cabinet as Labour minister to the backbenches. Mihychuk is quoted as saying “I’ve always been a strong advocate as a feminist, as a person who fights for jobs and I’ll continue to do that[,]” outside her office in Winnipeg.

  • voting

    Electoral reform in Britain and Canada for the past 40 years mainly has been a publicity machine for the more equitable representation of small parties. Proportional representation so-called however covers a multitude of sins, which most of its supporters have been extremely anxious to smooth over.
    The original Fair Votes, founded in the UK in 1975, would not tolerate for a moment criticism of any electoral system with a proportional count.
    In 2017, I could not criticise the Mixed Member Proportional system for a single day, without threat of deletions, condescending and cynical dismissals from so-called PR discussions. Never mind 40 years of one-sided propaganda against FPTP.
    Yet, MMP is FPTP Plus party-PR. In practical terms, it just gives more seats for small parties. No big deal, I’ve been told. But the proportional count is exclusively for parties. A party-proportional election system makes parties the ruling class.
    It doesn’t have to be like this. In its original form, the Hare system, he called the Single Transferable Vote, is proportional representation of all social groups (e.g. of women, immigrants and specialists in the UK NHS, instead of formerly all white male GPs FPTP on the GMC).
    Canada had long experience of STV in provincial and municipal elections. The BC Citizens Assembly rediscovered and recommended and gave a good blueprint for STV/PR in future Canadian elections.
    Richard Lung: “Democracy Science” with links to 3 free e-books on election method and science.