Canada has a new fisheries minister

Jonathan Wilkinson has replaced Dominic LeBlanc as Canada’s new minister of fisheries, oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. 

The change was part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first cabinet shuffle since winning election in October 2015. The shuffle is seen as a way to bolster the cabinet, government, and party in preparation for a 2019 federal election.

LeBlanc, who represents the riding of Beausejour, New Brunswick, becomes the new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.

Wilkinson represents the riding of North Vancouver, British Columbia. He had been Parliamentary secretary to the Minister of the Environment. He is considered an effective communicator by the Parliamentary press corps.

New ministers can raise an MP’s profile, smooth ruffled feathers of stakeholders and refresh policy in time for the election campaign. A summer shuffle gives new ministers time to get up to speed on their portfolio for Parliament’s return after the summer break. 

In total, six ministers were reassigned and five new ones added to the cabinet sworn in by Governor General Julie Payette at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, 17 July. 

Political commentators have suggested some of the impetus for the shuffle was the recent Ontario election that replaced the Liberal party, after 15 years in office, with a Conservative government led by a Premier who ran a Trump-like campaign.

When Trudeau announced his first cabinet, it was gender-balanced with half of cabinet ministers being female because, as he famously said, “because this is 2015.” Gender equity is maintained with the expanded cabinet.


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