In a cabinet shuffle this afternoon, Chrystia Freeland has been appointed Canada’s next Finance Minister. Freeland is an historic appointment as she becomes the first woman in Canadian history to serve in the job. Freeland takes over at Finance as Canada faces the largest deficit since World War II and the largest public health crisis in its history. In addition to Minister of Finance, Freeland will retain the title of Deputy Prime Minister.
One of Freeland’s first major responsibilities will be to table an economic update or full budget in Parliament that reflects the new reality and impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy. The 2020 Budget was postponed because of the pandemic.
Long time New Brunswick Liberal MP and former Cabinet Minister Dominic LeBlanc has assumed the role of Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs—a role he has played before in a previous Trudeau cabinet. The Intergovernmental Affairs file comprised a large part of Freeland’s role as Deputy Prime Minister. Prior to today’s appointment, LeBlanc was serving in the largely ceremonial cabinet position of President of the Queen’s Privy Council after having to reduce his duties because of personal health issues.
The cabinet shuffle was precipitated by the resignation of Bill Morneau in a press conference yesterday evening. Morneau stepped down amidst an investigation into his connections to the WE Charity, part of a scandal that has plagued the Liberal government since late-June. He announced that he will be running to be the next Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Morneau served as Finance Minister since the start of the Trudeau government in 2015. His resignation will also trigger a by-election in his riding of Toronto Centre—considered a safe Liberal seat.
Trudeau to Prorogue Parliament
The Prime Minister is also expected to soon announce that Parliament will prorogue and not return as scheduled in September. It is expected Trudeau will recall the House in October, deliver a Thone Speech, and introduce either an economic update or a budget.