Ahead of Trump, Canada Shakes up Its Cabinet
To avoid a fight over trade, it appears Trudeau is waging a charm offensive.
On Tuesday, less than two weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reshuffled his (famously feminist-friendly) cabinet.
One major change? Chrystia Freeland will leave her post as minister of international trade to become minister of foreign affairs. Freeland is a strong supporter of international trade and played a key role in saving the Canada-European Union trade agreement (CETA) last year. As foreign minister, she will be charged in part with dealing with the U.S. administration of a man who says he wants to renegotiate or leave the North American free trade agreement (NAFTA) — Canada’s largest and most important trade deal.
Freeland, who also chairs the cabinet committee on U.S.-Canada relations, will replace Stéphane Dion, who will reportedly be taking a “diplomatic post.” Dion, per the Globe and Mail, “is known to have a cranky personality,” which some feel won’t sit well with Trump or his secretary of state pick, ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson.
But Freeland’s selection is not the only part of the Canadian charm offensive. Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts, chief of staff Katie Telford, and Canada’s U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton reportedly met on more than one occasion with Steve Bannon, former Breitbart boss and incoming White House strategist, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s soon to be senior advisor and also his son-in-law. Trudeau also apparently enlisted former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, Trump’s neighbor in Palm Beach, and Derek Burney, former U.S.-Canada ambassador, with “opening doors” in Washington — and helping to preserve a bilateral partnership worth $2 billion dollars a day in trade.
François-Philippe Champagne will now take Freeland’s international trade post. Another notable change: Somali-Canadian Ahmed Hussen will succeed John McCallum as minister of immigration, refugees, and citizenship. Like Dion, McCallum is reportedly moving out to “diplomatic post” pasture. Meanwhile, the job of minister of democratic institutions, which evidently exists in Canada, will be taken over by 29–year-old Karina Gould. She’ll replace Maryam Monsef, who is being moved to Status of Women (again, a thing in Canada), taking over from Patty Hajdu, who will now labor as minister of labour.
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