Trudeau overhauls Indigenous Affairs
Department splitting in two
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled cabinet changes Monday that he said would reset the federal government’s “paternalistic, colonial” approach to Indigenous affairs in favour of eventual selfgovernment for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.
The bigger-than-expected cabinet shuffle will, in the months ahead, create two departments out of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and will eventually see legislation drafted to replace the Indian Act, government officials say.
And the Trudeau government is making new efforts to get the troubled inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) back on track because it is convinced the families don’t want to start over again.
“We are working very hard in support of the inquiry to make sure that it delivers on the important mandate it has to provide justice for the victims, healing for the families and to put an end to this ongoing national tragedy once and for all,” Trudeau said.
Carolyn Bennett, who had sole responsibility for the sprawling department, will now be in charge of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Another trusted Trudeau minister, Jane Philpott, now has the title of minister of Indigenous services.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, a parliamentary secretary to finance, got a big promotion to step into Philpott’s role as health minister. A francophone New Brunswicker, she now has the task of steering the marijuana legalization project.
The shuffle was prompted by the resignation of Newfoundland MP Judy Foote, who was the minister of public works.
Carla Qualtrough was named to take Foote’s place. She had been the minister of sport and persons with disabilities. She takes over a department wrestling to fix problems with the Phoenix pay system that has left bureaucrats without their salary.
Trudeau promoted his close friend Seamus O’Regan into cabinet to take the place of Kent Hehr as veterans affairs minister and associate minister of national defence. The department has been criticized for how it dispenses assistance to veterans, notably those who are ill and injured.
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