Monsef, MacAulay, Bibeau take on new jobs in cabinet shuffle
Shuffle prompted by resignation of ex-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould from Veterans Affairs
Three federal ministers have new job titles Friday morning as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's efforts to shuffle his cabinet to fill the vacancy created by Jody Wilson-Raybould's resignation over the SNC-Lavalin controversy.
P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay, formerly minister of agriculture and agri-food, will take over in Veterans Affairs, while Marie-Claude Bibeau, who until recently was minister of international development, will take over the agriculture file.
The Compton–Stanstead MP will be the first female agriculture minister in Canadian history.
"It's a huge privilege. I come from a rural riding, a dairy riding, in fact, in the south of Quebec, so I'm very close to the producers in Quebec," she told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef will take on international development as part of her duties.
Wilson-Raybould resigned as minister of Veterans Affairs, a position she was moved to after first entering cabinet as justice minister, on Feb. 12.
Ministers questioned on Wilson-Raybould
Despite not physically being at Rideau Hall, Wilson-Raybould cast a shadow over the proceedings.
The former justice minister told a parliamentary committee earlier this week she believes she was shuffled out of that department because she refused to bend to pressure from 11 officials — including from the Prime Minister's Office — who wanted her to give SNC-Lavalin a way out of bribery and corruption charges.
She had held the Veterans Affairs post for a month, moved there Jan. 14 after Scott Brison, former president of the Treasury Board, retired from federal politics. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had been acting minister of Veterans Affairs since Wilson-Raybould's resignation.
While no longer a member of cabinet, she remains a Liberal MP — at least for now. Trudeau has said he is considering whether Wilson-Raybould can remain in the Liberal caucus.
"I have taken knowledge of her testimony and there are still reflections to have on next steps," he told reporters on Thursday.
MacAulay, Bibeau and Monsef all said they would support Trudeau's decision on whether their former cabinet colleague can stay in caucus.
"I can live with any decision," said MacAulay.
The Quebec-based engineering and infrastructure company was seeking a deferred prosecution agreement, or DPA, that would allow the firm to avoid criminal prosecution, providing it met a number of conditions. Under the DPA, if those conditions aren't met, criminal prosecution could be pursued.
Trudeau has maintained she would still be justice minister if Brison had not stepped down.
MacAulay becomes the fourth official Veterans Affairs minister since the Liberal government came into power in 2015.
Kent Hehr held the role for just under two years before Seamus O'Regan took the reins. He was sent to Indigenous Services in the January cabinet shuffle.
"To represent veterans is a distinct honour," said MacAulay, who served as secretary of state for veterans back in the late 1990s.
Unlike most federal departments, the official headquarters for the Department of Veterans Affairs is outside the capital region, in Charlottetown.
With files from the CBC's David Cochrane, Katie Simpson and The Canadian Press