Nfld. & Labrador

Judy Foote 'ready to work' with fellow N.L. MPs as new cabinet minister

Newfoundland and Labrador's newest cabinet minister says she's ready to take on a new challenge in Public Services and Procurement.

Gender-balanced cabinet was 'the right thing to do,' says Bonavsita-Burin-Trinity MP

Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote says she's ready for the scrutiny that comes with some high-profile aspects of her new portfolio, including the replacement of the aging F-35 fight jet fleet. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Newfoundland and Labrador's newest cabinet minister says she's ready to take on a new challenge in Public Services and Procurement.

Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Judy Foote was appointed to the department Wednesday, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the ministers were sworn in.

"It was rewarding, it was good to have his vote of confidence," Foote told CBC's St. John's Morning Show of the appointment.

Foote said briefing on the portfolio starts Thursday, and she expects it to take some time.

"I'm sure it's going to be weeks of briefings, it's quite a department," she said, adding there will be some high-profile projects she will be responsible for overseeing, including replacing an aging fleet of F-35 fighter jets.

The department is also responsible for overseeing the national ship building policy, including those used for search and rescue, any purchases made by the federal government, and all government buildings.

I think it was important to recognize that we needed that gender balance in our cabinet.- MP Judy Foote

"There is a lot to get my head around, at the same time knowing that there's significant challenges there. But it's a great opportunity to be able to make a difference and to be able to look at procurement in particular and realize there are opportunities there to de-centralize," said Foote.

"There's been a tendency I think … if you get into it to allow things to just be, I guess, given out in central Canada, but for me the opportunity here now is to look at de-centralizing and look at other parts of the country."

Tootoo will be 'amazing' fisheries minister

Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo was named minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on Wednesday.

Foote said Tootoo is an "amazing" MP and she expects he will be just as amazing as minister.

"I've already had a preliminary discussion with him about some of our issues. He's open of course and he's not going to rush into anything, he's gonna take his time, but he's also cognizant of the fact that there are some decisions that have to be made in keeping with the timeline for the fishery," said Foote.

Bonavista-Burin-Trinity MP Judy Foote, bottom right, says creating a gender-balanced cabinet was the "right thing to do." (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

According to Foote, even with a number of MPs from Atlantic and western Canada, Tootoo was a good choice for the portfolio.

"I'm sure the Atlantic provinces and the west coast would like to have the minister of Fisheries, but I think this is a good choice," she said.

"We get to have the ear of the minister without trying push it one way or the other, making sure that all of our concerns are addressed — and we have some in Newfoundland and Labrador that have to be addressed."

Excited to get to work with N.L. MPs

Foote is one of seven MPs from Newfoundland and Labrador; fellow Liberals Yvonne Jones, Ken McDonald, Nick Whalen, Gudie Hutchings, Scott Simms and Seamus O'Regan represent the other ridings.

According to Foote, there's already been a caucus meeting with all the province's members.

"We're ready to work … They were excited, just as I would have been for either of them."

'It was the right thing to do'

When asked if the gender-balanced cabinet, with 15 male and 15 female ministers, Foote said it may have won more women voters to the Liberals, but that wasn't the point.

"Whether it does or it doesn't, it was the right thing to do and I think it was important to recognize that we needed that gender balance in our cabinet," she said.

"It's not that women do it better, it's that women do it differently based on our experiences in life so bringing together everyone's experience around that cabinet table, you're going to have a good cabinet."

Foote is the first Newfoundland and Labrador MP at the cabinet table since Peter Penashue who was minister of Intergovernmental Affairs from 2011 until he resigned his seat in 2013.

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