The Current

Cabinet shuffle suggests government 'reacts to change' instead of changing itself, says columnist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with his newly reshuffled cabinet in Quebec later this week — and the federal election this fall is sure to be on the agenda. We gather a political panel to discuss how the Liberal government is performing in Canada and on the world stage, and what the political shakeup could mean with an election looming.

Susan Delacourt says past Liberal cabinet shuffles have been a response to world events

Veterans Affairs Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (left to right), Treasury Board President Jane Philpott, Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan, Justice Minister David Lametti and Minister of Rural Economic Development Bernadette Jordan attend a swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Read Story Transcript

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's latest cabinet shuffle on Monday demonstrates how the federal Liberal government "reacts to change," rather than changing itself, says a Toronto Star columnist.

"There were two big shuffles in this government — I wouldn't call this one of the big ones," the Star's Ottawa bureau chief, Susan Delacourt, told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

The first was in 2017, when Chrystia Freeland replaced Stéphane Dion as foreign affairs minister in an attempt by the prime minister to align ministerial duties with U.S. President Donald Trump's approach to trade.

Freeland went on the play a critical role in the renegotiated NAFTA trade deal, the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).

"The second one was last summer, to deal with Doug Ford's government," she said.

Monday's political shakeup was triggered after Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison, who was appointed to cabinet as president of the Treasury Board of Canada, announced he was leaving politics to spend more time with family.

And as the newly-rejigged cabinet gathers in Quebec later this week, this year's looming federal election is sure to be on the agenda.

Taking stock of lessons learned 

But Delacourt said she is surprised the federal government has only delivered one speech from the throne during its four-year term.

Former governor general David Johnston delivers the speech from the throne as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

"Throne speeches, you have new ones mid-mandate to show what you've learned in government, and when I asked Trudeau about this in my year-end interview with him in December, he said we had enough to go on when we got elected to last us four years," she said.

"It shows the government that came in in 2015 believes it's still the same government, and that the world has changed and it [the government] has not."  

To discuss the cabinet shuffle, what it says about the current federal government, and what it means for the fall election, Tremonti spoke with:

  • Katie Simpson, senior reporter with CBC News, covering federal politics in Ottawa.
  • Susan Delacourt, national columnist and Ottawa bureau chief with the Toronto Star.
  • Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star columnist and author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Idella Sturino and Imogen Birchard.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.