March 1, 2019 9:43 pm
Updated: March 1, 2019 9:48 pm

Federal cabinet shuffle draws reaction from Calgary veterans advocates

Lawrence MacAulay (left), Maryam Monsef (centre) and Marie-Claude Bibeau got new roles in cabinet in a small shuffle announced Friday in Ottawa.

Global/Canadian Press

Friday’s shakeup in the federal cabinet has drawn criticism from some Calgary veterans advocates.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made three changes to his cabinet, and the most high-profile move saw Lawrence MacAulay take over the veterans affairs portfolio.

READ MORE: Trudeau shuffles MacAulay, Monsef, Bibeau to new cabinet roles after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

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MacAulay is the 10th politician to take over the role since February 2006. That turnover rate ranks near the top for ministry positions at the federal level.

Since the Liberals were elected, five MPs have held the title of minister for veterans affairs, matching the five Conservatives who held the position during Stephen Harper’s time in office.

Calgary MP Kent Hehr oversaw the portfolio from November 2015 to August 2017, followed by Seamus O’Regan, who was minister until Jan. 14, 2019.

Jody Wilson-Raybould was shuffled to the position but stepped down after less than a month in the midst of the SNC-Lavalin affair. Minister of Defense Harjit Sajjan looked after the portfolio in a temporary capacity until MacAulay was sworn in.

WATCH: Shuffled ministers say decision to keep Wilson-Raybould in caucus up to Trudeau

When asked about the high turnover of the position, MacAulay said he’s just honoured that Trudeau picked him for the job.

“Our government has made a lot of changes in veterans affairs, but I’m not going to get into the details,” said MacAulay. “To represent veterans at the cabinet table is a distinct honour.”

Allan Hunter with Veterans Canada said the revolving door of politicians is getting in the way of helping Canadians who have served.

“The constant shuffling of the veterans affairs portfolio tells you that there’s not a big interest from the people in government to deal with the issues,” said Hunter. “Our veterans are in crisis.”

READ MORE: Veterans’ anger at Trudeau government grows after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

Hunter added that even if MacAulay gets to work immediately, the upcoming election will probably mean more changes.

“There’s a pretty good likelihood we’re going to go to another minister with the new government, regardless of what party is in power,” said Hunter. “Once again, we have a role that’s all about the figurehead and not about (the people) they serve, which are veterans and Canadians.”

WATCH: Lawrence MacAulay takes on veterans affairs after Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation

There are a few positive points that veterans can take away from Friday’s announcement.

MacAulay is a seasoned cabinet minister with more than 30 years of experience on the hill. He was most recently the minister of agriculture.

Back in the mid-1990s, MacAulay looked after the veterans affairs portfolio as a secretary of state for the Ministry of Defence.

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