The Big Ottawa Summer Shuffle

March 25, 2024

Today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau undertook a procedure that many previous prime ministers have typically taken at this point in their mandates; a cabinet shuffle. Given the minority nature of this Parliament, it was expected that this government would look to move in some fresh faces and move out some others who weren’t going to run for re-election. In that sense, today’s proceedings at Rideau Hall were not out of the ordinary.

But where this cabinet shuffle stepped outside the norm was the size and scope of the shuffle itself, with the vast majority of the cabinet either being replaced, move to new portfolios and given increased responsibility within existing ones. All tolled, it made for one of the largest ministerial resets that we have seen in a long time, and arguably the largest one in the Justin Trudeau era. To view a complete list of all the cabinet changes, please visit the link here.

This shuffle did make some important changes for stakeholders to note. Here at Niipaawi, we are breaking down those into three categories: Promotions, New Faces, and Noteworthy. Here is how we see this shuffle, it’s importance and what it says about where the Federal government is looking to go:


  • Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, and Communities: Fraser has been a strong performer in cabinet, particularly in his previous role as Immigration Minister. He has built a strong reputation for his competency and his ability to communicate his file. Being placed in this new ministry, he will be handed a large responsibility to help this government tackle two of their biggest challenges: getting more affordable housing stock built and getting large infrastructure projects completed. Both have been issues that have bedeviled previous ministers and as a result, these issues have become big problems for this current government.
  • Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages: The lone Minister from Alberta previously served as the Minister for Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, roles in which he performed well. In this shuffle he is being moved to one of the largest departments in government, responsible for tackling one of the biggest continual issues facing the Canadian economy; the need for skilled workers. This is an issue that continues to grow in prominence and is likely to only continue to be present for the many years to come.
  • Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: While many older faces have left cabinet and decided to not run for re-election, Lawrence MacAulay has bucked this trend with a promotion and a return to a familiar portfolio. In his previous stint as Ag Minister, MacAulay was well-liked, highly knowledgeable and in tuned to the agricultural community. Coming from an agricultural background and having been a farmer himself, he brought a wealth of knowledge to this role that was in short supply in the Liberal government. He promises to bring a steady hand to a portfolio that is going through big challenges in a changing world.
  • Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport: This ministry is one that many pundits had highlighted for a potential change at the helm, due to issues it has faced since the re-opening from COVID. Minister Rodriguez is still seen has one of this governments strongest performers, despite issues he faced at his previous ministry deal with big tech companies. He was brought into Canadian Heritage to put out fires, and he put out far more than he set. Coming into Transport, he will face new fires that need tending to, including the role out of high frequency rail service, freight rail service improvements, and airports.

New Faces:

  • Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations: Inside a government where we’ve been told “The most important relationship is the relationship with Indigenous peoples”, this ministry holds particularly high importance. It is not a role for the uninitiated or inexperienced, which is why it surprised many that Marc Miller was moved from this role. But the appointment of Anandasangaree to this important position is one that feels like the best fit for the newest members of cabinet. From his election in 2015 until 2021, he sat on the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee, while also spending time as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations for two years. During that time, he built not only strong relationships with his colleagues and with Indigenous governments and organizations, he became known for his collegiality and professionalism. Many people across the political spectrum are happy to see this appointment, which is a reflection on that approach he has taken in his political life. That will serve him well as he enters into this important portfolio.
  • Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada: Since the election of the Trudeau Liberals in 2015, this role has seen much tumult. It is a position that at times has placed its minister in difficult positions, with results that have not always gone as the government would have wished. It is not the easiest position for any first-time cabinet minister to come into, but this is the challenge that Virani faces. He has been a solid performer in the House and committees, earning this promotion through earnest, hard work, not reputation. That hard-working approach will be put to the test early with many hard issues, included the continued evolution of medical assistance in dying legislation.


  • Extra Responsibilities for Existing Ministers: While some big names did stay in cabinet, most of them found themselves with more responsibilities than before the shuffle itself. Dominic LeBlanc added Public Safety to his previous ministerial responsibilities, Harjit Sajjan added Emergency Preparedness, Gudie Hutchings added ACOA while Seamus O’Regan added Seniors. At the same time, we saw some remaining ministers see parts of their portfolios given to new faces, like Soraya Martinez Ferrada assuming the role of Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Rechie Valdez becoming Minister of Small Business.
  • New Government House Leader: In minority Parliaments, the role of House Leader takes on added importance. They are responsible for ensuring that the House runs smoothly, and they build the relationships that help get legislation passed. In this current Parliament, Mark Holland had performed very well in this role, earning him a promotion to become Minister of Health. Replacing him will be Karina Gould, who had previously led the governments efforts on national child care, a role where she found agreement across party lines to get the job done. Her appointment to this role is a strong sign that the government intends to try to keep working with the NDP in their “Supply and Confidence Agreement,” rather than burn the bridges that have been built in this Parliament.