Nfld. & Labrador·Analysis

Judy Foote seen as frontrunner as federal cabinet representative

While prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has several options he can pick from, party insiders say Judy Foote has the edge, David Cochrane writes.
Liberal Judy Foote has been an MP since 2008. (Susana Mas/CBC)

With seven Liberal MPs in a Liberal majority government, Newfoundland and Labrador will have a regional cabinet minister from this province for the first time in years.

And while prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has several options he can pick from, party insiders say there's a clear frontrunner. 

"What choice does he have? It's Judy Foote," said one federal Liberal. 

One factor in Foote's favour is that Trudeau has committed to gender parity in his cabinet. The Liberals have 50 women MPs compared to 134 men. And with Trudeau expected to appoint a cabinet of about 25 ministers, one in five female MPs will get cabinet positions. 

What gives Foote the edge over Labrador MP Yvonne Jones is the length and depth of her political experience.

Foote is already the Liberal caucus whip. At the provincial level, she held senior cabinet posts in the Brian Tobin and Roger Grimes governments. Prior to that she worked as communications director for Liberal Premier Clyde Wells. She has the longest and strongest political resume of any of the province's MPs.

O'Regan: Personal connection, but less experience

St. John's South Mount Pearl MP-elect Seamus O'Regan has the closest personal relationship with Trudeau, but he lacks significant political experience. 

Seamus O'Regan acknowledged during his victory speech Monday night that he entered the campaign with little political experience. (CBC)

O'Regan worked for Tobin and Ed Roberts in the 1990s, but in his victory speech Monday night O'Regan admitted that he was as green as unseasoned wood when the campaign began. 

O'Regan is well educated and good with policy. But the challenge for the regional minister in Newfoundland and Labrador isn't running the department they get, it's managing the volatile political relationship this province has with Ottawa.

Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame MP Scott Simms is also close to next prime minister. Simms ran Trudeau's leadership machine in this province during the last Liberal leadership race. 

But party sources say that Simms is more interested in a parliamentary role and may offer his name as a candidate for speaker of the House of Commons (which is elected by a vote of MPs). He would have to improve his French. But a source close to Simms says his French "can get there pretty quick."

Party insiders expect the cabinet pick will come from that short list of four: Foote, Jones, O'Regan and Simms.  

But all of the key indicators point heavily to Foote. Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday that he will swear in his first cabinet on Nov. 4. 

About the Author

David Cochrane is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary bureau. He previously wrote for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.

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