August 28, 2017 9:34 am
Updated: August 29, 2017 12:07 pm

Justin Trudeau renews focus on Indigenous file in six-person cabinet shuffle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renews reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Affairs shakeup


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took advantage of the recent vacancy in his cabinet to trigger a wider shuffle of his top men and women and overhaul the Indigenous affairs file.

Trudeau came into office promising an increased and strong focus on Indigenous issues. Halfway through his mandate, he sent of his strongest ministers, Jane Philpott, to the ministry which will now have oversight from two ministers.

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READ MORE: Judy Foote resigning as federal minister and MP for family-related reasons

Monday’s shuffle saw Philpott moved from health to what is being called Indigenous services. Carolyn Bennett, who was minister of Indigenous and northern affairs, now becomes the minister Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs.

Philpott’s spot atop the health file was awarded to Ginette Petitpas Taylor, an MP from New Brunswick, who’s been acting as parliamentary secretary to the finance minister.

WATCH: Ginette Petitpas Taylor, a news face to cabinet, takes over as health minister after Jane Philpott was assigned to a new Indigenous Services portfolio. 

Resignation triggers shuffle

The prime minister was left with a hole after longtime Liberal MP Judy Foote resigned last week as minister of public services and procurement. That job went to Carla Qualtrough, who was, until Monday afternoon, minister of sport and persons with disabilities.

In losing Foote, the prime minister was also out a Newfoundland and Labrador presence in his cabinet, which he filled by promoting rookie Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan from the backbenches to the veterans affairs portfolio.

O’Regan replaced Calgary MP Kent Hehr, who moved into Qualtrough’s previous spot at sport and persons with disabilities.

WATCH: Calgary MP Kent Hehr joins Global Calgary to discuss his new role as Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities.

While Foote was on leave prior to announcing her resignation, her colleague, Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr was overseeing her portfolio — one of the most onerous in cabinet.

Public Works and Procurement involves a long list of responsibilities and challenging files, including the Phoenix pay system fiasco, which has resulted in leagues of public servants receiving either too much pay, not enough pay or no pay at all.

Because of the size and scope of that ministry, speculation in Ottawa has focused on experienced ministers who could step into the post.

READ MORE: New documents on Trudeau’s Bahamas trip raise fresh questions on long-running ethics investigation

O’Regan was under the spotlight earlier this year when he and his husband accompanied Trudeau on his controversial winter holiday to the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island.

Around the same time, O’Regan announced he’d entered a “wellness centre” in an effort to adopt an “alcohol-free lifestyle.”

Trudeau has maintained his cabinet since January, when he undertook his first major shuffle in anticipation of Donald Trump’s presidency.

WATCH: Seamus O’Regan talks about being an openly gay politician and his wedding to Steve Doss

In that shuffle, three young MPs were moved into key positions while two Liberal stalwarts – Stephane Dion and John McCallum – were moved out completely.

The shuffle had a focus on foreign affairs and international trade, with Trudeau moving Chrystia Freeland to Global Affairs Canada and François-Philippe Champagne to trade.

WATCH: Seamus O’Regan takes on veterans affairs portfolio as cabinet member

— With a file from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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