BONOKOSKI: What can Canadians expect from the imminent cabinet shuffle?
BONOKOSKI: What can Canadians expect from the imminent cabinet shuffle?

Four Trudeau cabinet ministers cancelled press conferences on the same day, and Carolyn Bennett, former health minister suddenly announced she was not seeking re-election.

Something was obviously afoot.

All fingers pointed to an imminent cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

What else could it be? Four cabinet ministers scurried for cover, while a senior one in Bennett wanted to make sure everyone knew she was leaving of her own accord before her name was noticed absent from Trudeau’s pre-election shuffle.

Ditto with Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, who is also not running — also Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray and Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek.

These are the things wise politicians do so as to not get in the way, or to ensure that no solid reputation suffers.

Meanwhile, Trudeau, who called all his ministers back to Ottawa, was hunkered down and out of touch with private meetings.

According to Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language arm, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault are not changing portfolios.

Ditto with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

But Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, very well might be.

Mendicino has been under intense pressure due to the controversy over the transfer of serial killer Paul Bernardo to La Maceza, a medium-security prison in the Quebec Laurentians known for handling sex offenders. The minister also has come under fire over his management of the government’s gun control legislation and the foreign interference file.

Coincidentally, the week Bernardo arrived at Lac Maceza, defrocked priest Brian Boucher, who was serving eight years at La Maceza for sexually assaulting two boys, was charged with additional sex crimes allegedly committed in prison. 

Asked last week whether he still had confidence in Mendicino, Trudeau skirted a direct answer.

“I have an amazing team in Ottawa and an amazing group of MPs right across the country who are committed to serving their country every single day, and anyone in my cabinet by definition has my confidence,” he said.

Senior government sources told the CBC that the focus of the shuffle, expected Wednesday, will highlight housing as well as the shoring up of cabinet to meet the next election. The government also wants to establish key communication strategies on important files.

Because of this, it is expected there will be multiple cabinet ministers being dropped.

This comes ahead of a scheduled cabinet retreat next month in P.E.I., which should give new ministers a few weeks to familiarize themselves with their portfolios.

Trudeau undertook a similar retooling of his cabinet in July 2018, prior to the 2019 federal election campaign. That shuffle saw five ministers added to cabinet and new portfolios created for seniors, intergovernmental affairs and border security.

Philip Cross, former chief economic analyst at Statistics Canada, reported in a recent essay for the Fraser Institute that Canada’s per-capita GDP growth rate is at its lowest level since the Great Depression.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland acknowledged this crisis in her 2022 budget speech.

She described it as, “the Achilles heel of the Canadian economy … We are falling behind when it comes to economic productivity. Productivity matters because it is what guarantees the dream of every parent — that our children will be more prosperous than we are. This is a well-known Canadian problem — and an insidious one.”

That one paragraph—alone—should grip every parent in Canada.

We’re letting our children down.

That’s mainly because of the Trudeau Liberals and the $1.1 trillion debt imposed on this nation.

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