Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a major cabinet overhaul on Wednesday with the stated goal of strengthening his economic team ahead of upcoming legislative elections.
Weakened in the polls, the man who has led a minority Liberal government since 2021 changed more than two-thirds of his political inner circle, with seven new recruits joining the cabinet and around 20 ministers reassigned to new roles.
The shake-up comes as Trudeau renews his focus on the economy as a way to counter inflation and tackle the country’s housing crisis.
“These are big challenges and you can’t pick and choose between them. So putting forward the strongest possible economic team with the strongest possible players in all the files that are going to matter to Canadians, this is what this day is about,” said Trudeau, who has led the country for nearly eight years.
He combined the portfolios of housing and infrastructure, to be run by Sean Fraser, the former minister of immigration.
In another key change, Anita Anand, the country’s first female minister of defense, joins the economic team as head of Canada’s Treasury Board.
She is replaced at defense by Bill Blair, an ex-police chief and former minister of public safety.
Major portfolios including finance, foreign affairs and environment remain unchanged.
Recent controversies surrounding Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, though, have cost him his place in the cabinet.
Opposition parties seized on the shake-up, accusing Trudeau of failing to address the country’s rising cost of living.
“His record is one of failure, and he is shuffling nearly his entire cabinet in a desperate attempt to distract from all that he has broken,” conservative Pierre Poilievre, leader of the opposition, said in a statement.
For Canada’s New Democratic Party, with whom the Liberals are in a governing alliance until 2025, the reshuffle “will change nothing” regarding the housing crisis.
The government also announced the creation of a National Security Council, established to address urgent issues relating to Canada’s security, and which follows the example of several allied nations. (France24)