Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed his new cabinet on Wednesday, and along with several major shuffles of existing ministers, he also brought in seven new members to sit around the table where key government decisions are made.
Wait, There’s More: Understanding Trudeau’s cabinet picks
All but one of those new members of cabinet hail from either Ontario or Quebec, both provinces that play the deciding role in which political party gets to form government. But all bring a range of experience and backgrounds to the delicate political dance of trying to hold onto power in a minority government.
Here’s what you need to know about the new additions to cabinet.
Anita Anand (Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada)
The new MP for Oakville is an Oxford-educated political rookie with a background in law and corporate governance.
She was born in Nova Scotia but has lived in Ontario for roughly 30 years.
Before being elected as a member of parliament, Anand was a professor of law at the University of Toronto.
According to the university’s website, she is “an expert on the regulation of capital markets with a specific focus on corporate governance, enforcement, capital-raising techniques and systemic risk” and both a senior fellow of Massey College as well as academic director for the business and legal ethics program at the university’s Centre for the Legal Profession.
She also holds the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance at the university and is on leave to serve as an MP.
Anand appears to also be both the first Hindu female MP and the first Hindu cabinet minister, according to a report by Business Insider.
While mandate letters have yet to be publicly released, expect some pretty big files on the new minister’s desk, including the fighter jet replacement competition and a pledge by the Liberals prior to the campaign to allow a third shipyard into the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Both are major — and problem-plagued — files that have dogged successive Conservative and Liberal governments.
Mona Fortier (Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance)
Fortier is a familiar but still relatively new face in the House of Commons.
The Ottawa-Vanier MP was the first women to win the Liberal stronghold after the death of former MP Mauril Belanger prompted a by-election in 2017.
Politically active from a young age, Fortier was a member of the Franco-Ontarian Youth Federation (FESFO) when younger and got involved with the Liberals in Ottawa-Vanier while a student at the University of Ottawa, ultimately becoming something of a protegé to Belanger.
Prior to getting elected, Fortier built strong ties in the Ottawa community working as director of communications for La Cité college, the largest francophone college in Ontario, and serving as a board member for the city’s Hôpital Montfort and on the provincial advisory committee on francophone affairs.
After her first election in 2017, Fortier served on several parliamentary committees including those on official languages, human resources, a sports-related concussions sub-committee and the committee on access to information, privacy and ethics.
It was on the latter where she was one of the five Liberals who used their majority of votes to block Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion from testifying about his determination that Trudeau and his senior staff broke federal ethics rules by attempting to intervene in the court case of SNC-Lavalin.
The role appointed to her as minister of middle-class prosperity is new and its function not yet determined.
But expect to see her heavily involved in the messaging around the first bill the Liberals have said they will introduce when they bring back the House of Commons on Dec. 5: a middle-class tax cut.
Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Canadian Heritage)
A familiar name to environmentalists, this Quebec activist was a star Liberal candidate and snatched Montreal’s Laurier-Sainte-Marie away from the NDP.
He climbed a tree as a child that was threatened by developers.
He later co-founded Équiterre, which is the largest environmental group in Quebec, and in 2009 the French magazine Le Monde named him one of the “50 leading figures in the field of sustainable development,” according to the Canadian Encyclopedia run by the non-profit Historica Canada.
Guilbeault also worked for Greenpeace as the organization’s director and campaign manager, and it was as part of this work that he was part of a show of civil disobedience in 2001, when activists scaled the CN Tower in a bid to get Canada to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
He was arrested for that and later released, but said in an interview with the National Post this year that he no longer advocates for civil disobedience.
“I’ve decided to pursue my political action differently,” he said in that interview.
Guilbeault shifted gears to strategic consultation for companies eyeing clean technology growth and management, and has also been part of climate change advisory boards both for the Quebec government and the Trudeau Liberals on their Advisory Council on Climate Action.
Many had speculated whether he would be appointed environment minister but that ultimately went to former fisheries minister Jonathan Wilkinson, a B.C. MP elected in 2015.
Marco Mendicino (Minister of Immigration)
Mendicino was previously elected in 2015 and held onto his urban Toronto seat of Eglinton–Lawrence last month.
Even if you don’t recognize his name, you might recognize him from television screens — he’s frequently offered up over the last four years as a government representative to do hits with media about high-profile issues of the day, including the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
He’s also the son of immigrants from Italy and took the historically Liberal seat back from former Conservative finance minister Joe Oliver in 2015.
Mendicino’s background, like many MPs, is in law.
He ran a small law firm focusing on employment law and regulation in Toronto and also held a post as an adjunct professor with Osgoode Hall Law School.
For about 10 years he was also a Crown prosecutor, and it was during that time that he worked on the cases of some members of the Toronto 18 terror cell and appeared as a witness before House of Commons and Senate committees studying how to improve laws dealing with organized crime.
He held two parliamentary secretary roles in the last parliament: one to the minister of justice and another to the minister of infrastructure and communities.
But the appointment to cabinet is a big promotion and will see Mendicino responsible for implementing promised increases to immigration and pilot projects aimed at bringing more immigrants into rural and Atlantic Canada.
Marc Miller (Minister of Indigenous Services)
Representing the Montreal riding of Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Sœurs, Miller also comes from a background in law.
Miller practiced commercial law with Stikeman Elliott in Montreal before winning his riding for the first time in 2015.
Since then, he’s been the parliamentary secretary for communities and infrastructure and most recently, until the dissolution of parliament this past summer, was parliamentary secretary for the minister of Indigenous services.
He made headlines during the last session for his efforts to learn and use the Mohawk language in the House of Commons.
In 2017, he became the first MP to give a speech in Mohawk in the House of Commons.
And in 2019, he became the first to do so again using extended availability of simultaneous translation, which allowed his colleagues and Canadians to understand what was being said as it happened.
Miller takes over the portfolio from Jane Philpott, who Trudeau kicked out of the Liberal caucus earlier this year for raising concerns about the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and who had received wide praise as a rising star in Liberal circles prior to her ousting.
The ejection of both Philpott and Wilson-Raybould, the first Indigenous cabinet minister, prompted strong criticisms of Trudeau from many members of the Indigenous community, as has Trudeau’s vow that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will proceed.
As well, Miller is a personal friend of Trudeau — the two attended the same private school Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in the 1980s.
Deb Schulte (Minister of Seniors)
Schulte is also among the cohort of Liberals elected in 2015.
She represents the Greater Toronto Area riding of King–Vaughan, located in the Regional Municipality of York.
Schulte was a one-term regional councillor for Vaughan before she entered federal politics.
Before that, she worked for roughly 20 years with Bombardier Aerospace and holds a degree from Princeton University in mechanical and aerospace engineering.
She was also involved in environmental advocacy in the York Region, serving as a member of the Greenbelt Task Force and on both the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation and the Humber Watershed Alliance.
After winning election in 2015, she served on several parliamentary committees, including those on the environment and finance, and also worked as parliamentary secretary to the minister of national revenue.
In 2017, she got a private member’s motion passed that made June Italian Heritage Month.
Dan Vandal (Minister of Northern Affairs)
Vandal has a long history of municipal political involvement in his hometown of Winnipeg but first entered federal politics when he was elected as MP for the Winnipeg riding of Saint Boniface-Saint Vital in 2015.
Prior to entering federal politics, Vandal was a Winnipeg councilor and served five terms representing the St. Boniface ward.
During that time, he was also deputy mayor and sat as chair of three municipal committees.
Vandal also helped create the city’s Aboriginal Youth Strategy and most recently served as the chair of the board of directors with APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, from 2010 to 2013.
After several years as an MP, Vandal was made parliamentary secretary to the minister of Indigenous services.
He also sat on three committees on official languages, Aboriginal and northern affairs, and Canadian heritage.