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New faces in Trudeau's minority cabinet include rookies and former backbenchers

Liberal MP Steven Guilbeault arrives for the swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
November 20, 2019 - 11:57 AM

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has welcomed some new faces into his cabinet, including some rookie MPs and former Liberal backbenchers.

Steven Guilbeault, Canadian Heritage

Guilbeault, a prominent Quebec environmental activist, was one of the Liberals' star candidates during the federal election campaign and was highly expected to be tapped for cabinet after winning the Montreal riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie in the Oct. 21 vote. Guilbeault, who spent a decade with Greenpeace and also founded a major Quebec environmental advocacy group called Equiterre, has been an outspoken opponent of the Trans Mountain pipeline project, which the Liberal government bought and has promised will get built. But Guilbeault has said he felt he could do more to fight climate change from inside the Liberal tent.

Anita Anand, Public Services and Procurement

The law professor, who took the Toronto-area riding of Oakville from the Conservatives, might be new to federal politics, but she has experience working with Liberal governments. In 2015, she was appointed by Ontario’s former Liberal finance minister, Charles Sousa, to sit on the provincial government’s expert committee on financial planning. He expertise in corporate governance and shareholder rights makes her an logical choice to head the department overseeing procurement and administration.

Marc Miller, Indigenous Services

Miller, a long-time close friend of Trudeau, has represented the Montreal riding of Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Ile-des-Sœurs since 2015. He was chosen for this new role in part because of his work as parliamentary secretary to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, when he led federal discussions over a proposed land deal in Oka, Que. that had created tensions between its residents and the neighbouring Mohawk community of Kanesatake. Miller also learned the Mohawk language and was the first to speak it in the House of Commons.

Marco Mendicino, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

The former federal prosecutor, who defeated former Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver in his Toronto riding in 2015, held a few parliamentary secretary roles in the previous Parliament, including for the ministers of infrastructure and justice. It's his legal background that is believed to have led to his promotion to cabinet, which included fighting against organized crime and terrorism. His Italian heritage and close connection to cultural communities is also something the Trudeau government likely sees as an asset for Mendicino as the new immigration minister.

Deb Schulte, Seniors

The Toronto-area MP served as the parliamentary secretary to the national revenue minister before the election. She sponsored a private member's bill recognizing the contributions that Canadians of Italian heritage had made to Canadian society, which the House of Commons passed in 2017. Schulte is a Princeton University graduate with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering. She served in both regional municipal government in Vaughan, Ont., before entering federal politics. Before that, she worked in management for Bombardier Aerospace for 22 years.

Dan Vandal, Northern Affairs

The Winnipeg MP is expected to bring experience to this role, both as the former parliamentary secretary of Indigenous Services and from his 17 years on Winnipeg city council, including time as deputy mayor. His Metis heritage will also help bring important experience and perspectives to his discussions with stakeholders, as well as decisions made around the cabinet table.

Mona Fortier, Middle-Class Prosperity

The Ottawa MP joins cabinet as the associate minister of finance, where she will also carry the newly created title of minister for middle-class prosperity. Fortier, who won her seat in a 2017 byelection, served on a number of House of Commons committees during her time on the backbench, including human resources and social development. She also served as co-chair of the Liberal national platform committee for the 2019 election. The name of her new job suggests one of her roles will be to ensure cabinet decisions remain focused on the campaign commitment to focus on making life easier for middle-class Canadians.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 20, 2019.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2019
The Canadian Press

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