Justin Trudeau has included four MPS from Atlantic Canada in the new federal cabinet named on Wednesday.
One of the biggest shakeups comes with the appointment of Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan as the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
It’s a big step-up for an MP who had to fend off a strong Progressive Conservative candidate during the 2019 election.
Jordan won her riding of South Shore-St. Margarets with 41 per cent of the vote this past election, retaining a seat she took in 2015 and ending an 18-year streak for the Tories.
She became the minister of rural economic development during a cabinet shuffle in January 2019 but will not be returning to the post as a result of her new role.
Instead, she’ll be forced to grapple with the increasing focus on the changing climates of Canada’s oceans and the growing fervor over the declining North Atlantic right whale population. There have been at least nine confirmed deaths of right whales in 2019, with preliminary findings indicating vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear being the cause.
Jordan will have some familiarity with the portfolio, having served as the chair of the House of Commons’ standing committee on fisheries and oceans before being named minister of rural economic development in 2019.
New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc has been appointed as the president of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, giving him a less demanding but important role in cabinet as he continues to recover from cancer treatment.
LeBlanc was discharged from hospital earlier this month after successfully undergoing a stem cell transplant to treat Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
He won the riding of Beausejour during the federal election in October, despite not being able to campaign during the lead-up to voting day a result of his medical condition.
LeBlanc stepped away from his duties as minister of intergovernmental and northern affairs in April after being diagnosed with cancer.
His new role will leave him without a specific portfolio but will provide Justin Trudeau with a steady and experienced lieutenant at the heart of all major policy decisions.
Along with Jordan and LeBlanc, Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan has become the new minister of natural resources.
O’Regan has been criticized for his communication skills on contentious portfolios in the past: veterans advocates slammed him in 2018 for remarks he made comparing his experience leaving journalism to the mental health struggles faced by veterans adjusting to life after the military.
But it’s not yet clear how the appointment of O’Regan, a close friend of Trudeau, will go over in the Prairies where there is strong opposition to the Trudeau brand.
P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay will remain minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence.
The career politician has represented the riding of Cardigan since 1998.
Also on the move, was Ginette Petitpas Taylor who was shuffled out of cabinet and into the role of deputy whip.
She had held the role of minister of health since 2015.
—With files from Amanda Connolly