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Tue 29th Aug 2017
Judy Foote, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, stepped down from Cabinet last week for health and family reasons. Minister Foote was well respected by members across the aisle and will be greatly missed by her colleagues.

Minister Foote’s resignation left an opening in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet that was quickly filled by another East Coast politician and personal friend of the PM: Seamus O’Regan. However, Minister O’Regan wasn’t the only change that took place yesterday: a total of six ministers were shuffled. Here is a quick overview:

Minister O’Regan, a former backbencher in the Trudeau government, did not take over Foote’s former portfolio. He is now the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence – replacing Calgary MP Kent Hehr. Some believe that this is a demotion for Minister Hehr, who will be taking over the Ministry of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

British Columbia MP Carla Qualtrough, the former Minister for Sports and Persons with Disabilities will be taking over Minister Foote’s duties at the Ministry of Public Services and Procurement. Minister Qualtrough has her work cut out for her as her newly appointed ministry is mired in problems with public sector salaries tied up in the Phoenix Pay System.

The most significant of changes that took place in yesterday’s shuffle was the addition of a second minister to help oversee the Trudeau government’s advancement of indigenous issues. Former Health Minister Jane Philpott will be taking on a new role as Minister of Indigenous Services while Minister Carolyn Bennett, formerly the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, will be taking on a new role as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The government believes that splitting the file among two ministers is the best way to effectively tackle the problems affecting First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. Both ministers are from the Greater Toronto Area.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, a New Brunswick MP and former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, will be taking over the Ministry of Health from Minister Philpott. Minister Taylor will be in charge of overseeing a nation-wide opiate epidemic that Ontario doctors are calling a crisis. In addition to this crisis, Minister Taylor will be overseeing a challenging portfolio that will implement major components of the marijuana file while conducting bilateral agreements with her provincial counterparts across the country.

The Liberal government’s decision to shuffle more than one member of their cabinet likely indicates that they are going to be introducing significant policy changes in the months ahead.

It is sometimes said that more enemies than friends are made when building or shuffling a cabinet. Justin Trudeau’s appointment of Seamus O’Regan has altered the gender parity between male and female cabinet ministers. Additionally, the appointment of more East Coast MPs has skewed the geographic make up of the cabinet which may have negative repercussions down the line.

Grassroots will be keeping a keen eye on this government as they approach their second anniversary since being elected in 2015. With a new Conservative Party leader at the helm and a new NDP leader to be picked later this year, the second half of the Trudeau four year term will be very different from the first.