Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shuffled his cabinet, calling the shake-up a “positive step” as his government seeks to better appeal to a frustrated country grappling with rising costs, inflation and a housing crisis.
Trudeau, whose Liberal Party has been in power since November 2015, dropped seven ministers on Wednesday, the Canadian broadcaster CBC reported, and gave more than a dozen ministers new portfolios.
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The changes came as a new Abacus Data poll showed the opposition Conservative Party of Canada taking a big lead over the Liberals, with 38 percent of public support compared with the Liberal Party’s 28 percent.
“This is a positive step in a moment of consequential impact in the world and in the country,” Trudeau said of the cabinet shuffle during a news conference in the capital, Ottawa.
“We know that times are challenging, but this is the team that is going to be able to continue the hard work, rolling up their sleeves and delivering for Canadians from coast to coast to coast as we build a brighter and ambitious future for all Canadians,” he told reporters.
Trudeau kept heavy hitters such as Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Foreign Minister Melanie Joly in their portfolios.
He changed or tweaked the job descriptions of about three-quarters of the positions compared with his previous cabinet, with former Immigration Minister Sean Fraser taking over a newly formed housing, infrastructure and communities Ministry.
Dominic LeBlanc has been named public safety minister, taking over for Marco Mendicino, and Arif Virani moved from the back benches to become justice minister. Bill Blair also took over the defence ministry from Anita Anand.
“This is not tinkering. It is a major reset,” Frank Graves, president of polling company Ekos, told the Reuters news agency.
“The shuffle does send a clear message that the government is aware that their current standing with the electorate is not healthy.”
The head of the Conservatives, Pierre Poilievre, hit out at Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle, calling it an admission of the government’s failures.
“His mass firing of ministers is Trudeau’s admission that his government is failing as everything costs more, work doesn’t pay, housing costs have doubled and crime & drugs are common on our streets,” Poilievre wrote on social media.
“Firing ministers won’t change that — firing the Prime Minister will.”
His mass firing of ministers is Trudeau’s admission that his government is failing as everything costs more, work doesn’t pay, housing costs have doubled and crime & drugs are common on our streets.
Firing ministers won't change that—firing the Prime Minister will. pic.twitter.com/ZVDsJnILwY
— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) July 26, 2023
The Liberals then reached a deal in November of last year with the left-leaning New Democratic Party to prop up their government until 2025.
“No amount of shuffling can ‘refresh’ a government and [prime minister] who have been around for eight years,” said Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute polling company, adding that an election was probably not around the corner.
“With the Conservatives leading the Liberals by a handful of points in the latest polls, the best thing the Liberals can do is run the clock and hope cost of living is no longer a ballot issue by the time they do seek another mandate.”