Strong per­form­ers re­warded in cab­i­net

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - OPINION -

Cab­i­net shuf­fles serve myr­iad purposes: to re­act to dra­matic changes in the econ­omy or in world af­fairs; to re­set the clock on files that aren’t go­ing well; to re­bal­ance re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tion; to deal with scan­dal, if it ex­ists; and, of course, to dis­tract peo­ple from other prob­lems.

Justin Trudeau’s first ma­jor cab­i­net shakeup Tues­day sends sig­nals in each area.

First, he is (sen­si­bly) wor­ried about pres­i­dent-elect don­ald Trump’s global im­pact and, specif­i­cally, about trade with the united states. To grap­ple with this, strong per­former Chrys­tia Free­land be­comes for­eign min­is­ter. she’s a wel­come re­place­ment for stéphane dion, who would be un­likely to im­press Team Trump, given dion’s ex­plic­itly lib­eral views of for­eign pol­icy, and his stum­bles on touchy files such as arms sales to saudi ara­bia.

strong per­former Pa­tri­cia hadju gets the em­ploy­ment port­fo­lio as not-so-strong min­is­ter Maryann Mi­hy­chuk is tossed.

Que­bec MP François-philippe Cham­pagne has al­ready put in solid in­nings as par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary to the min­is­ter of fi­nance, and thus be­comes min­is­ter of in­ter­na­tional trade. Toronto MP ahmed hussen, a so­mali-born ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star, goes to im­mi­gra­tion; fel­low rookie Ka­rina Gould of Burling­ton en­ters cab­i­net as min­is­ter for demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

Gould is seen as a so­lu­tion to the Maryam Mon­sef dilemma. Whether on her own or un­der di­rec­tion from the PMO, Mon­sef flailed on elec­toral re­form. Trudeau badly needs a do-over here; a fresh face may sig­nal a fresh at­ti­tude. Mon­sef bounces to what has tra­di­tion­ally been seen as a ju­nior role, status of women, but which this fem­i­nist govern­ment has said is an im­por­tant port­fo­lio. For her, it’s a sec­ond chance.

John Mccal­lum leaves cab­i­net, be­com­ing am­bas­sador to China. Trudeau isn’t solv­ing a cab­i­net prob­lem here: he is solv­ing a diplo­matic one, plac­ing a trusted, ex­pe­ri­enced hand in an am­bas­sador­ship that, af­ter Wash­ing­ton, is the prime min­is­ter’s top for­eign pri­or­ity. Mccal­lum was a re­li­able point man on syr­ian refugees; nam­ing him to the China post gives the prime min­is­ter a smart loy­al­ist (with pre­vi­ous cab­i­net posts un­der his belt) in Bei­jing.

as pun­dits parse th­ese ap­point­ments, Trudeau has bought time to deal with the first sig­nif­i­cant scan­dal to hit his govern­ment since the 2015 elec­tion: cash-forac­cess fundrais­ing events. he’ll need bet­ter an­swers on this by the time the house of Commons comes back late in the month.

For now, how­ever, his govern­ment can boast of fresh faces, strong play­ers and new global chal­lenges. — Post­media Net­work

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