• Jul 26, 2023
  • Insights

Trudeau shakes up cabinet ahead of summer retreat


The Prime Minister shuffled much of his cabinet today, dropping seven ministers, changing or adding to the roles of 23, adding seven newcomers and leaving his inner circle of ministers mostly intact. The 39-member cabinet (including the PM) remains gender balanced. 

The shuffle is meant to signal a reset of the government and its priorities in the context of weakening public opinion about the PM’s performance and the standing of his Liberal party. An Abacus poll released today showed the Liberals ten points behind the Conservatives. 

As they positioned the changes, the PMO framed the changes as shoring up the government’s economic focus, building up its communications and managerial capacity and improving campaign readiness.   

This was largely an exercise of changing the middle ranks of cabinet, albeit significantly. The only truly inner circle minister to move was Dominic LeBlanc, who has been assigned the difficult public safety role while retaining his democratic institutions job – clearly indicating the governmental priority of dealing with foreign interference and threats to domestic security. As the PM’s main “fixer” he also retains his intergovernmental role. The other senior ministers who stayed put were Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Freeland, Global Affairs Minister Joly, Industry Minister Champagne, Environment Minister Guilbeault and Natural Resources Minister Wilkinson (although he adds the word “energy” to the title).     

The decision to drop seven ministers was in part a function of recognizing in a pre-election period that some were not planning to run again (or chose to say that making their departure seem to be their own choice). The others dropped included Omar Alghabra, Carolyn Bennett, Helena Jaczek, Marco Mendicino, and Joyce Murray.  

There were seven newcomers to cabinet filling the seats of those who have been dropped. Together they will bring the energy of what is an unusually large cohort of keen newcomers to cabinet.    

As is usual, the political calculus was very evident with common criteria likely influencing who made the cut. It is a group that is extremely diverse, generally representing ridings that will be in play in the next election, and who have exhibited significant ability at two of the currently key political attributes – the ability to raise money and have a significant social media presence.  Interestingly, there were some senior portfolios distributed among this group including Justice (Arif Virani), Crown Indigenous Relations (Gary Anandasangaree) and Social Development (Jenna Sudds). 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is applauded at a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

Aside from LeBlanc’s move, the headline reassignments included moving:

Anita Anand from Defence to Treasury Board. She leaves in the middle of the ongoing Russian invasion, increasing pressure from allies on our defence spending and the attempts to bring on a significant culture shift in the armed forces. Given her effective communications skills and strong management style, her transfer is part of the signalling of a larger focus on economic and management issues.  

Bill Blair from Emergency Preparedness to Defence. He leaves behind a significant work in progress as the government works to build structures to deal with natural disasters caused by climate change.

Jean-Yves Duclos from Health to Public Services and Procurement. With much of the intergovernmental funding issue resolved and the incidence of COVID diminishing, Duclos moves on to bring his attention to economic detail and strong policy oversight to the difficult PSP file and the procurement morass throughout government.  

Pablo Rodriguez from Heritage to Transport.

Marc Miller from Crown Indigenous Relations to Immigration. He leaves behind strong relationships with the Indigenous community and what was clearly a job he felt passionately about.

Sean Fraser from Immigration to the newly combined Housing, Infrastructure and Communities portfolio. He has been seen as a highly effective first-time minister solving problems at Immigration. He now lands at the heart of a department central to Canada’s affordability crisis. 

Karina Gould who led the child-care agreement implementation moves to Government House Leader. She is widely regarded for her communication and interpersonal skills. 

Carla Qualtrough from Employment and Disability to Sport. A highly regarded and effective minister, she has hinted she wants to leave government at some time soon and return to her family. This likely keeps her important voice in cabinet and BC representation there with a decrease in workload.

There were some significant promotions including:

  • Mark Holland from Government House Leader to Health. He is a strong communicator and did well as House leader.
  • Randy Boissonnault becomes Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages from Tourism.
  • Pascale St Onge takes over Heritage, a significant jump from Sport.

Opposition response

Pierre Poilievre reacted to the shuffle with characteristically caustic language. He said: “By firing a large part of his cabinet, Justin Trudeau admits that after 8 years of criminality and violence, the cost of inflation, housing, his government is a failure. I thank him for firing some incompetent members of his government who broke the economy, housing and justice, but it shows once again that Canadians are suffering. He is trying to distract them from suffering for 8 years.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh focused on housing today. He said: “We are confident we can put pressure on this government to deliver, but this government has a bad track record and the conservatives do not have the solutions. We are focused on it, we have results, more to come, but housing is difficult, Canadians need real solutions.

Looking ahead

More information will follow from the Prime Minister’s office, including:

  • Further details on departmental restructuring including at Infrastructure which adds housing, the addition of energy to NRCan, the splitting off of citizenship and any other machinery of government changes.
  • The composition of cabinet committees and any changes in committee structures
  • Mandate letters for the new Cabinet ministers

For stakeholders looking to connect with government, this will be a difficult month. The sheer volume of cabinet changes means wholesale staff movement and changes along with the need for dozens of ministers to brief up on files.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a group portrait with his latest cabinet

Full list of cabinet changes

The following experienced cabinet members have new roles

  • Anita Anand, Minister of Treasury Board
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of National Revenue
  • Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence
  • Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages
  • Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
  • Karina Gould, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Mark Holland, Minister of Health
  • Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development
  • Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Kamal Khera, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities
  • Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Mary Ng, Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development
  • Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Labour and Seniors
  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Physical Activity
  • Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport and will continue to serve as Quebec Lieutenant
  • Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
  • Pascale St-Onge, Minister of Canadian Heritage
  • Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

The following individuals join cabinet for the first time

  • Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  • Terry Beech, Minister of Citizens’ Services
  • Soraya Martinez Ferrada, Minister of Tourism and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
  • Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
  • Jenna Sudds, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business
  • Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

The following ministers remain in their portfolio

  • Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
  • François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
  • Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
  • Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
  • Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency


Media release: Prime Minister announces changes to the Ministry