Po­lit­i­cal Ot­tawa abuzz with spec­u­la­tion about to­day’s fed­eral cab­i­net shuffle

Calgary Sun - - NEWS -

OT­TAWA — Po­lit­i­cal Ot­tawa is abuzz with spec­u­la­tion about how Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau will re­shape his cab­i­net Mon­day af­ter the un­ex­pected res­ig­na­tion of long­time Lib­eral Scott Bri­son from his post as Trea­sury Board pres­i­dent.

The cab­i­net shuffle is ex­pected to be small, with as few ad­just­ments as pos­si­ble to fill the void of Bri­son’s de­par­ture.

But given the in­ter­nal im­por­tance of the Trea­sury Board when it comes to con­strain­ing gov­ern­ment spend­ing, the shuffle is ex­pected to re­sult in at least two senior min­is­ters be­ing moved.

Spec­u­la­tion Sun­day re­volved around Indige­nous Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jane Philpott be­ing moved to Trea­sury Board.

Bri­son’s de­par­ture also leaves Trudeau’s cab­i­net with­out rep­re­sen­ta­tion from Nova

Sco­tia — a hole ex­pected to be filled on Mon­day as part of the shuffle.

The Lib­er­als hold all 11 seats in Nova Sco­tia, giv­ing Trudeau 10 back­benchers (ex­clud­ing Ge­off Re­gan who pre­sides over the House of Com­mons as Speaker) to choose from. Spec­u­la­tion Sun­day cen­tred on Sean Fraser as the most likely can­di­date for the province’s slot on the front bench, although other names, par­tic­u­larly Ber­nadette Jor­dan, were still cir­cu­lat­ing.

Senior sources say the Nova Sco­tia new­comer will not go di­rectly into Trea­sury Board, which despite its low pub­lic pro­file is con­sid­ered a vi­tally im­por­tant cab­i­net job.

It is the guardian of the pub­lic purse, over­see­ing how the gov­ern­ment is man­aged, how it spends money and how it goes about reg­u­lat­ing many as­pects of Cana­di­ans’ lives.

The pres­i­dent of the Trea­sury Board is also re­spon­si­ble for ne­go­ti­at­ing 27 col­lec­tive agree­ments with 15 dif­fer­ent bar­gain­ing agents.

Philpott, who was named to the newly cre­ated Indige­nous Ser­vices post 18 months ago, is widely seen as one of Trudeau’s most com­pe­tent min­is­ters and some­thing of a fixer who is dis­patched to put out po­lit­i­cal fires.

As Trudeau’s orig­i­nal health min­is­ter, she is cred­ited with help­ing the gov­ern­ment nav­i­gate rel­a­tively un­scathed through the rocky de­bate over le­gal­iz­ing med­i­cal as­sis­tance in dy­ing. She was tapped by Trudeau in Au­gust 2017 to make con­crete progress on im­prov­ing the lot of Indige­nous Peo­ples, one of the prime min­is­ter’s top pri­or­i­ties.

Philpott is cur­rently vicechair of the Trea­sury Board cab­i­net com­mit­tee.

Sources say Trudeau wants to keep the shuffle small, mov­ing as few min­is­ters as pos­si­ble.

He con­ducted a ma­jor shuffle just last July, which was in­tended to fix prob­lem ar­eas and put in place a cab­i­net ready for this fall’s elec­tion — a plan that was up­ended by Bri­son’s sur­prise de­ci­sion to re­tire from pol­i­tics.



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