New face at Justin Trudeau’s table following cabinet shuffle: Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Monday afternoon’s cabinet shuffle brought a few surprises and two new faces to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government — though, to many, one of the new faces (former TV personality Seamus O’Regan) may seem more familiar than the other (former RCMP member Ginette Petitpas Taylor).
Both O’Regan and Petitpas Taylor are rookie MPs who made it to the House of Commons when the Liberals swept the Atlantic provinces in the 2015 general election.
However, O’Regan — as a former morning TV show host, a guest at Trudeau’s controversial winter holiday to the Aga Khan’s private Bahamian island and an MP who publicly battled an alcohol addiction — has had a higher profile than Petitpas Taylor.
As the new health minister, however, she’ll be sure to garner attention.
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Asked about that file shortly after Monday afternoon’s shuffle, Petitpas Taylor said only she’s looking forward to upcoming challenges.
“I’ve been named health minister for the past hour, and this is a very new responsibility for me,” she told reporters outside Rideau Hall.
Asked whether she’s smoked pot in the past, she admitted she had “on a few occasions while [she] was in university, and that was it.”
Petitpas Taylor, the youngest of nine children, won her New Brunswick riding with more than 57 per cent of the vote.
The Liberal party’s biography of the MP describes her as having a “longstanding passion for battling social issues” — a passion she dove into while obtaining her bachelor degree in social work from the Université de Moncton, and carried with her throughout her 23-year career with the Codiac, N.B. detachment of the RCMP.
There, she worked as a co-ordinator for victim services, providing counselling, domestic violence intervention and domestic violence risk assessment to victims of crime.
“Along the way, she has always made the time to volunteer for causes that she hold very close to her heart,” the online biography reads, pointing to mental health and suicide, and domestic abuse as two of those causes.
Petitpas Taylor succeeded Jane Philpott as health minister, where Ottawa just last week got Manitoba, the last provincial holdout, on board with its health-care pact.
Following the prime minister’s announcement, New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant issued a release congratulating Petitpas Taylor in which he noted she is the second minister from the province, after Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc, to rise to Trudeau’s cabinet.
“We look forward to working with them to spur economic growth, strengthen educational opportunities and improve health care,” Gallant wrote in his statement.
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