In what has been seen as an effort to prepare for the new Trump administration in the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to his cabinet on Tuesday.
Most notably, University—Rosedale MP Chrystia Freeland, who had been serving as the Minister for International Trade, will now take over as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a crucial role in dealing with the US.
With her background in journalism and her experience in global affairs, Freeland, who represents the riding in which UTSG is located, has been seen as someone who is capable of handling Canada-US relations in the coming months.
“Chrystia Freeland is one of the smartest and sharpest Ministers in the Trudeau Cabinet,” said Professor Mel Cappe, who teaches at U of T’s the School of Public Policy and Governance. “And far and away the most experienced in global affairs. She is the real deal.”
Freeland distinguished herself in cabinet when she successfully negotiated the Canada-European free trade agreement in late 2016, after it had almost collapsed at the last moment.
Her achievements in trade put her in a strong position to handle the Trump administration.
“President-Elect Trump… very much takes a trade and job lens to his engagements with the world,” said Trudeau. “It makes sense for the person who is responsible for foreign relations with the United States to also have the ability and the responsibility to engage with issues… that we’ll be facing with our friends and neighbours south of the border.”
Freeland was also one of 13 Canadian lawmakers who were banned from entering Russia in 2014 after her public condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
According to Cappe, the fact that Freeland was banned by Russia “should be worn as a badge of honour… Especially in juxtaposition to Trump.”
“Her strong views on Ukraine show her passion,” said Cappe.
Freeland replaces Stéphane Dion, who will be leaving politics. John McCallum, who had served as Immigration Minister, will also be leaving politics. Both have been offered diplomatic positions, although Dion has not yet confirmed if he will be accepting the offer.
François-Philippe Champagne will be taking on Freeland’s former position as Minister of International Trade, and Ahmed Hussen, the first Somali-born MP, will be the new Minister of Immigration.
Other changes include the appointment of newcomer Karina Gould to Minister of Democratic Institutions. She is the youngest ever female MP to be appointed to cabinet. Gould is replacing Maryam Monsef, who has faced scrutiny for her handling of electoral reform. Monsef has been named Minister of Status of Women, replacing Patty Hajdu, who is the new Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour.