On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a major shuffle of his Cabinet, which saw a handful of ministers get the boot and others reassigned. One portfolio, however, had many Canadians scratching their heads as to what exactly its responsibilities were.
Trudeau named Terry Beech as Canada’s first Minister of Citizens Affairs, though not even Beech himself was sure what his responsibilities will be as a member of Cabinet.
After being sworn in, Beech told reporters that his ministry will be responsible for delivering social services across the country, but could not give any further details.
“This is really where the rubber hits the road in providing services to citizens right across the country,” said Beech.
“I met my deputy minister about five minutes ago. She handed me a piece of paper with a whole bunch of bullet points on it. But I’m less than an hour in so I’m gonna get fully briefed and to provide you much more fulsome answers from her on out.”
Beech told reporters that his ministry will oversee some elements of Employment and Social Development Canada and “a bit of digital governance.”
In the next few weeks, Trudeau will deliver his cabinet ministers’ mandate letters – public orders given to the ministers outlining their responsibilities and objectives going forward – which will outline Beech’s duties in further detail.
The Trudeau government has been criticized for creating positions in Cabinet that have flashy names with little practical utility in operating the affairs of the government. Trudeau had appointed Mona Fortier as his Minister of Middle Class Prosperity to much scrutiny.
The decision to create a citizens affairs minister comes as the Trudeau government has had a difficult time delivering services to Canadians in a timely and effective manner, including the growing immigration backlog, passport service and the disordered state of many of Canada’s airports.
Unions going on strike against the government has become a common occurrence as well, as Canada’s largest public service union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, had gone on strike this past year and B.C.’s port workers following suit in July.