July 27 2023  |  Associations

FDFA sends memo to members about Canadian cabinet shuffle

By GTR Magazine Staff

The Frontier Duty Free Association (FDFA) has sent out a memo to its members recapping the news of the Cabinet shuffle that took place in Canada, and noting its impact on the association.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, has announced a substantial Cabinet shuffle which saw most ministers moved either to new roles or out of Cabinet entirely and introduced seven first-time ministers. This shuffle has been the most significant change to Trudeau’s Cabinet since the last federal election in October 2021.

Trudeau intends to create an “economic front bench,” where his highest-performing Ministers take on roles relating to affordability, cost of living and housing. With a renewed focus on economic portfolios, the objective is to put in place folks who can best speak to the day’s issues, restoring Canadians’ confidence in the government and securing support as they head to the polls.

The new Cabinet reflects the team that will take Trudeau into the next federal election, which is officially scheduled to occur in October 2025. Due to the Liberal’s minority government status, however, it is more likely that the election will be called in the coming year.

Changes of specific note to FDFA members:

Soraya Martinez Ferrada, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, is now Minister of Tourism and the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions. This shuffled position is a significant promotion for Martinez and important to note for FDFA because this Minister being from Quebec, a province with 32 land border crossings, may be more invested in the association’s issues than her predecessor. In addition, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Quebec Regions allocates funding to businesses and organizations on behalf of other departments (eg. Tourism Canada).

Dominic LeBlanc, former Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, has become Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and keeps the Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio. LeBlanc is a skilled politician and Cabinet Minister known as being a fixer. This shuffle is significant to FDFA and its members as the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and its president report directly to the Minister of Public Safety.

Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, and Economic Development, losing the small business portfolio.

Rechie Valdez, first elected in 2021, will now serve as Minister of Small Business, a new stand-alone portfolio. Valdez is currently the MP for Mississauga—Streetsville in Ontario.

Pablo Rodriguez, former Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant has been shuffled in as the next Minister of Transportation, also keeping his role as Quebec Lieutenant. This shuffle is important to note as the Minister of Transportation is involved in implementing policies around travel mandates and restrictions.

Ministers staying in place:

  • Chrystia Freeland: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
  • François-Philippe Champagne: Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry
  • Mélanie Joly: Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Steven Guilbeault: Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Seamus O’Regan: Minister of Labor, adding Seniors to his portfolio
  • Guidie Hutchings: Minister of Rural Economic Development
  • Patty Hajdu: Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
  • Jonathan Wilkinson: Minister of Natural Resources, adding energy to his portfolio
  • Filomena Tassi: Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Dan Vandal: Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Notable shuffled portfolios:

  • Randy Boissonnault: Former Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance has become the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages.
  • Harjit Sajjan: Former Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada has become Minister of Emergency Preparedness and will keep the portfolio of the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCAN). The FDFA notes that it is good news for FDFA that Minister Sajjan keeps his PacifiCAN portfolio, as the association recently met with his office to discuss funding opportunities for BC-based duty free stores.
  • Anita Anand: Former Minister of National Defence finds herself in the new role as President of the Treasury Board, which controls government spending.
  • Marc Miller: Former Minister of Crown-Indigenous relations becomes the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
  • Sean Fraser: Former Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship will now take on the role of Minister of Housing and Infrastructure.
  • Mark Holland: Former Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has been promoted to take on a new role as Minister of Health.
  • Bill Blair: Former President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness has been shuffled in as Minister of National Defence.
  • Pascale St-Onge: Former Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec will take a new role as Minister of Heritage.

Notable Ministers shuffled into Cabinet:

  • Arif Virani: Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, was promoted to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Notable Ministers shuffled out of Cabinet:

  • Mona Fortier: Former President of the Treasury Board made headlines earlier this year over her handling of the PSAC strike, one of Canadian history’s largest public service strikes.
  • Marco Mendicino: In recent months, the Minister of Public Safety has come under fire over his management of the government's gun control legislation and the foreign interference file.

Notable Ministers leaving Cabinet pending retirement:

  • Omar Alghabra: Earlier this week, the former Minister of Transportation informed the public that he did not intend to seek re-election. As a result, he has been dropped from Cabinet.

A full list of shuffle changes can be found here.

As a result of the shuffle, significant staffing changes are expected in the coming month, from chiefs of staff down to advisors. We can also expect to see a shuffle in the coming weeks amongst Parliamentary Secretaries, which is customary following a large-scale shuffle.

The shuffle comes ahead of a scheduled Cabinet retreat next month in Prince Edward Island, allowing ministers to familiarize themselves with their new portfolios before discussing future mandates.

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