Everyone has been waiting for that moment where the Prime Minister’s Office would finally use a known power to change the situation with the RCMP. It would give Trudeau a “Ted Lasso moment”. The Speech from the Throne would now talk about legalizing marijuana—but only if it’s done via legislation.
“It’s about time,” a minister of industry said.
Part of the logic of a Liberal cabinet shuffle is that everyone can play their role in positioning themselves for a cabinet shuffle. There is a retirement issue—with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s looming exit. The justice portfolio is up for grabs. And of course, there’s the business of cutting spending. The cabinet shuffles since Trudeau’s win in 2015 have been built on a promise that the spending would be countercyclical. The early ministerial shuffles of the Trudeau Liberals marked a break from the Jean Chrétien years of the Chrétien Liberals. The real change made public in the Jan. 28, 2015, budget shuffle of various portfolios, saw three out of 11 first-term ministers. Trudeau added to the drama when he sent his labour minister, Patty Hajdu, packing for a stint as a cabinet minister with the Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency. A veteran of the Michael Ignatieff era, Hajdu, who is a Chavasse-Maisonneuve MP, had once harboured ambitions of running for the Liberal leadership. With Stephen Lewis stepping down as climate-change minister, this represents a return to a modus operandi used in Jean Chrétien’s government: moving one or two cabinet ministers around to give them a new job, while denying them any future when the job they are leaving isn’t their own.
For now, it would seem that the Liberal lineup is healthy, and that this is more a natural natural evolution of a team than a fresh start. (“He’s an integral part of this team,” Freeland’s office said of her departure.) It would be cynical to argue that Chris Alexander leaving the minister for Seniors file is part of the shuffling for advancement. It’s likely not about Lasso.