Justin Trudeau's cabinet: 6 changes found in the fine print

The Liberal government's cabinet announcement was about more than just the new Liberal faces. Here are some of the details we've noticed after reading the fine print.

Foreign Affairs becomes Global Affairs Canada and Canada Post reports to a new minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new government reorganizes, renames and reassigns responsibilities in several key portfolios, but some of the announcements are happening quietly online. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced his cabinet Wednesday, the new faces weren't the only changes afoot.

Orders-in-council posted online later in the week revealed that the machinery of government itself was reorganized, with not only new departmental names but shifting ministerial responsibilities.

Here are a few of the details disclosed in the fine print.

Global Affairs Canada

If you're still calling the department in charge of Canadian diplomacy External Affairs, because you could never get used to Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), and then Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), then brace yourself: it's changing again, this time to Global Affairs Canada.

Other departmental name changes were foreshadowed by new ministerial names during the swearing-in, such as Carolyn Bennett's title, minister of indigenous and northern affairs (instead of aboriginal affairs and northern development).

But Stéphane Dion keeps the "old" ministerial title of minister of foreign affairs. Confused yet?

Here's the full list of departmental stationery that needs replacing, according to the Privy Council Office website:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
  • Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada to Global Affairs Canada.
  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.
  • Industry Canada to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  • Environment Canada to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Canada Post's new boss

Prior to Wednesday, responsibility for Canada Post rested with the transport minister. But this week's changes shift the reporting lines to Public Services Minister Judy Foote.

Canada Post announced last week it would suspend its plans to end door-to-door mail delivery. That's a bullet dodged for Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who represents a Montreal riding and could have found himself mediating a confrontation over community mailboxes with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, himself a former federal Liberal cabinet minister.

Shifting responsibilities

Public Service Minister Judy Foote is also the new minister for the Public Service Commission. Previously, the heritage minister was responsible for the PSC, which is in charge of recruiting for the federal public service. 

Treasury Board President Scott Brison will share responsibility for the federal public service with Foote, as what has been acrimonious collective bargaining continues.

In terms of the collective bargaining process specifically, a government source said Friday, Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk will also play a role.

The new public services minister will also be responsible for the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board and the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal Canada.

Foote and government House leader Dominic LeBlanc are also joining the Board of Internal Economy, a powerful group of MPs that works behind closed doors to oversee the operations of the House of Commons.

Worst-case scenario replacements

Because someone has to worry about the unthinkable, the orders-in-council included the ominous-sounding "list of ministers to act for the prime minister in the event of his being unable to perform the functions of his office."

There is no deputy prime minister under Trudeau. But here are the top 10 from the list of those who would be tapped to step in during an emergency:

  • Ralph Goodale.
  • Lawrence MacAulay.
  • Stéphane Dion.
  • John McCallum.
  • Carolyn Bennett.
  • Scott Brison.
  • Dominic LeBlanc.
  • Navdeep Bains.
  • Bill Morneau.
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould.

A government source told CBC News Friday that while the list broadly reflects the length of time ministers have been appointed to the Privy Council and the relative seniority of their portfolios, some of the names were swapped around.

Two alternate acting ministers are also assigned for each ministry.

Economic development merger

In past governments, ministers from different regions were assigned responsibility for economic development portfolios. 

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains is now responsible for all six:

  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
  • Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
  • Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
  • Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
  • Western Economic Diversification Canada.
  • Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario.

Beyond the changing organizational charts, does that signal a policy shift? A change in spending plans going forward? That remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, responsibility for the Champlain Bridge in Montreal and the Windsor-Detroit Bridge, as well as Toronto's Waterfront Revitalization Initiative, will rest with the new Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.

Heritage expanding

Several responsibilities that were portioned away from Canadian Heritage are returning.

The Privy Council says that Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly will be responsible for:

  • Multiculturalism (which had its own minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, Jason Kenney).
  • Canadian Race Relations Foundation (part of Kenney's old portfolio).
  • National Capital Commission (which used to be overseen by Harper's senior minister from the Ottawa-Gatineau region, Pierre Poilievre).
  • Canadian Secretary to the Queen (which was under the auspices of the Privy Council Office).

Another order-in-council dated Nov. 4 ended the employment of Timothy Wasylko, the executive chef at the prime minister's residence during the Harper family's stay at 24 Sussex Drive.


  • An earlier version of this story suggested the president of the Treasury Board was responsible for the Public Service Commission in the previous government. In fact, the heritage minister oversaw the Public Service Commission.
    Nov 07, 2015 10:40 AM ET