Trudeau shuffles MacAulay, Monsef, Bibeau to new cabinet roles after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation
The mini cabinet shuffle follows the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould from cabinet last month in the wake of allegations that, while serving as attorney general, she was pressured to intervene and cut a deal to help the Montreal engineering firm avoid a criminal trial.
Formerly attorney general, Wilson-Raybould was removed from that position in January 2019 and appointed Minister for Veterans Affairs. She resigned from that position and cabinet altogether on Feb. 12.
WATCH BELOW: Shuffled ministers say decision to keep Wilson-Raybould in caucus up to Trudeau
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan took on the veterans’ portfolio in a temporary capacity but that role now officially goes to Lawrence MacAulay, who was formally agriculture minister.
International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau replaces MacAulay as the new Minister for Agriculture, becoming the first woman to hold that position in Canadian history.
Maryam Monsef, Minister for the Status of Women, will keep that role and also take on the international development portfolio formerly held by Bibeau.
The decision to shuffle from within cabinet rather than bringing in new faces also means the Liberals are keeping those with clear track records on several files that seem set to come up during the fall election, rather than adding variables into the mix roughly six months ahead of it.
WATCH BELOW: Lawrence MacAulay takes on Veteran’s Affairs after Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation
Bibeau in particular will likely find herself on the defensive with Quebec dairy farmers frustrated with the shelf space being offered up to foreign dairy products under trade deals including the CPTPP with Asian countries and the new NAFTA agreement, which has yet to be fully ratified by Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Following the CETA agreement with the European Union, the government announced $350 million to help Canadian dairy farmers become more competitive and to compensate them for lost market share.
Similar deals for market share offered up to foreign producers under the CPTPP and new NAFTA deal have not been announced.
WATCH BELOW: Marie-Claude Bibeau named Agriculture Minister in cabinet shuffle
However, dairy farmers have been demanding they receive similar benefits to offset the impact, and the issue will likely factor in significantly to voter concerns on the ground in Quebec as the Liberals look to shore up support in that province to maintain their majority.
She acknowledged those concerns in a scrum with reporters following her swearing-in.
“My riding is a dairy farm riding and a rural riding so these are issues I’m familiar with,” she said.
“I’m very anxious to be able to talk to all of our partners so we can find some direct solutions.”
WATCH: Bibeau won’t say if she wants to see Deferred Prosecution Agreement for SNC-Lavalin
MacAulay and the other ministers also addressed questions about their colleague, Wilson-Raybould, and her political futures.
Trudeau has refused to say whether he will allow Wilson-Raybould to run for the Liberals in the fall election, or whether she will be allowed to remain in caucus.
MacAulay largely dodged questions while Bibeau and Monsef both took the chance to state they will trust whatever decision Trudeau makes.
“We are working for much more than what’s going on right now,” Bibeau said when asked about the matter.
WATCH BELOW: Maryam Monsef takes on International Development portfolio in shuffle
“This is really what motivates our caucus right now. Whatever decision will be taken by the prime minister or the whip, I will live with. I’m a team player.”
Monsef made similar comments, noting it is “ultimately the prime minister’s decision.”
“I think the prime minister said it best that he’s going to take the time to reflect on that and I trust that judgement.”
WATCH: Ministers say Wilson-Raybould’s resignation has not hurt morale in cabinet
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