Is it time for a cabinet shuffle? Political strategists weigh in
With just four weeks left until the House of Commons breaks for the summer, the weekly panel of political strategists on CTV’s Question Period says it’s likely time for the prime minister to shuffle his cabinet.
Kory Teneycke — who was Ontario Premier Doug Ford's campaign manager and former director of communications for former prime minister Stephen Harper — told Question Period host Vassy Kapelos on the panel airing Sunday that the summer presents the perfect opportunity to “rebalance your team.”
He said the summer months give those taking on new roles the chance to feel comfortable before MPs return to Ottawa for the fall session.
“I think you want to move some people who have been stumbling out of positions where they've been stumbling, and get your strongest communicators in the roles where you're really going to need them,” Teneycke said, citing finance as an example.
“If you want to win an economic narrative, you need to have a very strong communicator in that role,” he said. “While I think Minister Freeland has a lot of things that she's very capable of, I don't think communications would be the highest on the list.”
Teneycke also said this summer is “probably the last good opportunity for them to do a big rebalancing of the team prior to that final push to an election.”
The Liberals’ confidence-and-supply agreement with the NDP sees the latter prop up the minority Trudeau government until 2025 in exchange for advancement on certain policy priorities, but some have speculated an election could still come sooner than that.
Scott Reid, a CTV News political analyst and former communications director to prime minister Paul Martin, agreed that a cabinet shuffle is “likely,” and “probably wise,” adding he’s also anticipating a prorogation of Parliament and a throne speech, which he called a chance to “reboot.”
But, he warned, those things don’t necessarily spell an agenda for the Liberals, who shouldn’t wait until August to make some changes.
“A shuffle will give you some things, but when you're in government, you tend to start to believe that a cabinet shuffle gives you a brand new lease on life,” Reid said. “Most of the time, most people don't even notice.”
He said his advice to the Liberals would be to “not waste any time getting out of Ottawa,” and to “get the prime minister on the road,” so he can focus on issues that will win over Canadians, instead of being on the defence against Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre.
It's been nine months since Poilievre became leader of the Conservatives, and the acrimony between him and the prime minister has only grown, while some polling shows Poilievre and the Conservatives have an edge over the Liberals.
Kathleen Monk, a former NDP strategist and director of communications to the late Jack Layton, said the Liberal government needs to spend the summer months focusing on appearing less out of touch, especially when it comes to economics and bread-and-butter issues.
“When there's bad economic news, it's always bad for the government, and it's always good for the opposition,” she said. “So they're always going to be on their back heels when it comes to defending where they are with the economy.”
“They need to wake up and be less out of touch on that, and that's going to have to happen at the doorstep this summer and on the barbecue circuit this summer,” she also said. “And frankly, they're going to have to come up with some policies for next September that people can really relate to and kind of ease their pain.”
The Sunday Strategy Session discusses what they’re watching for in the next four weeks and into the summer months in the video at the top of this article.