By Paul Vieira
OTTAWA–Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a new cabinet Tuesday following his September re-election victory, putting new faces in the prominent environment, foreign and defense portfolios to help implement a progressive agenda that helped him win a third term last month.
As Mr. Trudeau promised last month, one of his closest allies, Chrystia Freeland, will remain as finance minister and hold the title of deputy prime minister.
Most notable of the changes in the 38-mmeber cabinet is the appointment of a former climate-change activist with Greenpeace, Steven Guilbeault, to be environment minister. Mr. Guilbeault was previously in the heritage portfolio, where he ran into difficulty trying to push through changes that would force YouTube, TikTok and other video- and audio-sharing sites to prominently feature more of the country’s artists. Those changes were not implemented before the most recent election, but the Liberals have promised to reintroduce the measures when the legislature returns next month.
Some political commentators indicated the appointment of Mr. Guilbeault to environment suggests Mr. Trudeau is focusing on climate change as a possible legacy issue if he decides his third term as prime minister will be his last.
“If he wants to be more aggressive on the environment, he will have a partner with Guilbeault who will go down that route,” Tim Powers, head of Ottawa-based lobbying group Summa Strategies, told Canada’s Cable Public Affairs Channel, or CPAC.
Meanwhile, he appointed Anita Anand, who as procurement minister led the purchase of Covid-19 vaccine doses for the country, to head defense. A law professor prior to entering politics in 2019, Ms. Anand takes over the defense department at a time when the military has been rocked by a series of sexual-misconduct allegations against senior leaders. She also is the first woman to lead the defense department in nearly three decades.
In recent weeks, both Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Freeland criticized the military leadership with the revelation of new allegations of sexual misconduct targeting senior commanders. “It seems as if the leadership just doesn’t get it. I think the reality is there is a systemic problem with the treatment of women, the treatment of sexual harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces,” Ms. Freeland said.
Melanie Joly is the new foreign minister. She is a Montreal-area lawmaker who has held other positions in the cabinet, such as the heritage portfolio and the minister responsible for official languages.
Mr. Trudeau is counting on the cabinet to help implement a progressive agenda he hopes can position Canada as a global progressive leader, with an emphasis on affordable child care and housing and more aggressive climate-change policies. Mr. Trudeau is leading a minority government, which means he will need to rely on other left-leaning parties in parliament to help pass legislation and keep the Liberals in power.
Among the initial moves Mr. Trudeau has unveiled since his re-election on Sept. 20 were new mandates compelling federal government employees, and would-be plane and train passengers to be fully vaccinated. Ms. Freeland last week announced the end of broad, pandemic-fueled income benefits, arguing the economic recovery has entered a new phase and the emergency measures are no longer required.
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