Skip to main content

Seven rookies promoted, most ministers reassigned in major Trudeau cabinet shuffle


In a major cabinet shuffle on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted seven rookies to his front bench, dropped seven ministers, and reassigned the majority of cabinet roles.

In a ceremony at Rideau Hall, presided over by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Trudeau orchestrated one of, if not the most consequential reconfigurations to his cabinet since 2015, meant to reset the minority Liberal agenda after eight years in power.

"What a team," Trudeau said, kicking off his post-shuffle press conference, backed by his new roster of ministers.

While the prime minister denied that such a sizeable shakeup was a signal that 2023 hasn't been going as the Liberals had hoped, the occasion certainly was the federal political event of the summer so far that will have ripple effects in the months to come.

Trudeau acknowledged this shuffle comes at a time where "there are storm clouds all around the world," that are having real impacts on Canadians, from the war in Ukraine, to the rise in authoritarianism and foreign interference, to the cost-of-living crunch.

"This is a positive step in a moment of consequential impact in the world, and in the country. We know times are challenging, but this is the team that is going to be able to continue the hard work rolling up their sleeves and delivering for Canadians… as we build a brighter and ambitious future for all Canadians," Trudeau said.

"Making sure that we have the best possible team, aligned to respond to Canadians' challenges with the supports necessary, but also show that optimism, that ambition for getting us through these consequential times... That's what we're focused on."


As Liberals arrived to a spray of television cameras and political reporters, few said much about what awaited them inside, though a few indicated that it was a good morning and were looking forward to their new roles.

While most ministers were in high spirits, all eyes were on Anita Anand, who was handed one of the most high-profile reassignments on Wednesday. She was bumped from defence to become Treasury Board president.

Asked by reporters how she felt leaving defence with unfinished business, Anand said she was "extremely excited" to work as part of the enhanced economic policy team, while indicating Blair is committed to pick up where she left off. 

President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand takes the oath of office as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on during a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Former police chief and emergency preparedness point-man Bill Blair replaces Anand as minister of defence, taking on the high-profile international cabinet post amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and continued defence spending pressures.

Taking on the re-prioritized housing file at a time of affordability concerns is Sean Fraser, who moves from immigration to become minister of housing, infrastructure and communities. 

Also picking up key economic roles are Randy Boissonnault, who is now the minister of employment, workforce development, but also official languages minister; and Mary Ng who has a similar portfolio to what she held a day ago, now formally titled as minister of export promotion, international trade and economic development.

Trudeau's close ally and longtime friend Dominic LeBlanc becomes public safety, democratic institutions, and intergovernmental affairs minister, seeing him maintain his relationships with the provinces and the ongoing foreign interference public inquiry negotiations, while adding in responsibility for key gun control legislation and RCMP reform. 

In a move many predicted, Pablo Rodriguez becomes transport minister tasked with ensuring Canadian travellers are well-treated by Canadian air and rail services, while maintaining the Quebec lieutenant role, while Pascale St-Onge takes over the minister of Canadian heritage portfolio.

This will make the first out lesbian in cabinet Trudeau's new lead on some hot online platform policies, including the ongoing debacle over implementing online news regulations following the passage of Bill C-18. Heritage is a file sources close to St-Onge have said she's interested in and fits as a next step following her time overseeing the sport portfolio.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is applauded at a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Jean-Yves Duclos becomes minister of public services and procurement, a move he said he didn't see as a demotion after helping navigate the last few post-COVID-19 years.

I am an economist by training... we want to focus very much on the cost of living, helping Canadians put food on the table, also helping grow the economy. And in my new role, I will have many tools to do that," he said. 

Taking over the health file is outgoing House leader Mark Holland. Karina Gould is the new leader of the government in the House of Commons, poised to lead the Liberals in the Chamber, a key role during question period.

Trudeau announced that when Gould takes parental leave this winter, given she's expecting her second child, Chief Government Whip Steven MacKinnon will take over as House leader until she returns, and current deputy whip Ruby Sahota will fill in for MacKinnon.

Jonathan Wilkinson is now Canada's minister of energy but maintains the natural resources portion of his title. Similarly, Seamus O’Regan maintains his minister of labour role, but has been given the additional responsibility of minister of seniors.

As for other Atlantic Canadians given new roles: Gudie Hutchings holds her role as minister of rural economic development, while adding in responsibility for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Lawrence MacAulay becomes agriculture and agri-food minister, and Ginette Petitpas Taylor takes over for MacAulay as veterans affairs minister and associate minister of national defence.

Harjit Sajjan becomes King's Privy Council president and the minister of emergency preparedness, where his past military experience will be tapped into as Canada continues to evolve its natural disaster response plans and respond to a devastating wildfire season. He also becomes the minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

Fellow B.C. minister and Paralympian Carla Qualtrough becomes minister of sport and physical activity, picking back up a file she's previously held.

Close Trudeau ally Marc Miller becomes minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, after years spent building relationships with Indigenous communities. Ahmed Hussen has been dropped from housing and becomes minister of international development. Picking up the diversity, inclusion, and persons with disabilities files is Kamal Khera.

A few other ministers who have held their roles over successive previous shuffles are also on the move: Marie-Claude Bibeau becomes Canada's minister of national revenue, aka the minister responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency.

And, former CRA minister Diane Lebouthillier is now the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian coast guard. Should there be further findings regarding the ill-fated Titan submersible, expect this francophone minister to front those questions.


As senior government sources confirmed ahead of Wednesday's shuffle, seven ministers are out of cabinet: Omar Alghabra, Joyce Murray, Helena Jaczek, Carolyn Bennett, Marco Mendicino, David Lametti, and Mona Fortier.

These departures have paved the way for the prime minister to promote several backbench Liberal MPs from key battleground ridings in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.

Mississauga-Streetsville MP Rechie Valdez arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, July 26, 202. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The seven rookie MPs who have clinched cabinet posts are

  • Scarborough-Rouge Park, Ont. MP Gary Anandasangaree, who becomes minister of Crown-Indigenous relations after serving as a parliamentary secretary and a Liberal MP since 2015;
  • Parkdale-High Park, Ont. MP Arif Virani, who was first elected in 2015, and now has a major new role: Canada's minister of justice and attorney general, picking up several bills left by Lametti before the House;
  • Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C. MP Terry Beech, who has also been in the House since 2015, now gets a brand new title, becoming the minister of citizens' services;
  • Hochelaga, Que. MP Soraya Martinez Ferrada, becomes minister of tourism and is responsible for the Quebec economic development agency. She was first elected in 2019;
  • York Centre, Ont. MP Ya'ara Saks, first elected in a 2020 byelection becomes minister of mental health and addictions, holding on to a role held by a nearby former minister Bennett;
  • Kanata-Carleton, Ont. MP Jenna Sudds, first elected in 2021 becomes minister of families, children and social development, picking up the Ottawa-area vacancy left by Fortier's cabinet departure; and
  • Mississauga-Streetsville, Ont. MP Rechie Valdez, first elected in 2021 as Canada's first Filipina MP, becomes minister of small business.

"It just really demonstrates that decoupling small business from the larger portfolio shows the importance, and I've been advocating it, for it since I began as an MP, Valdez said to reporters after becoming emotional during her oath-swearing. "It's incredibly important that we focus on the small businesses, because they are the backbone of our economy and I truly believe that, being that I was a small business entrepreneur myself." 

While four of the outgoing ministers have announced they aren't running again, Fortier and Mendicino confirmed Wednesday they do plan to seek re-election. In his statement, Lametti didn't touch on that question. 

Asked by reporters why he chose to remove those three, Trudeau was unspecific, beyond saying it was about "putting forward the strongest possible team, with fresh energy, and a range of skills." 

In a statement posted to social media Wednesday morning, Mendicino—who was at the centre of shuffle chatter over his handling of hot files—said it had been "an honour" to serve as a minister in the immigration and public safety portfolios for nearly four years, and said he plans to stick around as the Liberal MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.

"Those who know me well know that politics is in my blood… I have every intention of continuing to serve for the remainder of this mandate, and into the next election," Mendicino said.

"To my cabinet and caucus colleagues, it remains a privilege to work with you. The seating arrangements may move around in the House of Commons from time to time, but we are family and committed to the same cause."

In his lengthy public comment, Lametti called his time as justice minister the privilege of his life, congratulated two of his former parliamentary secretaries for their promotions, and reflected on his accomplishments from passing a conversion therapy ban, to tabling a new process for wrongful convictions. 


A sign of just how seismic Trudeau's cabinet reconfiguration is, only eight ministers were left untouched:

Francois-Philippe Champagne, left to right, Chrystia Freeland and Mary Ng arrive for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

  • Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland;
  • Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne;
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly;
  • Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault;
  • Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu;
  • Women and Gender Equality and Youth Minister Marci Ien;
  • Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal, who also oversees Prairie economic development; and
  • Minister Filomena Tassi who is responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Trudeau defended his decision to keep these ministers in their current roles, particularly Freeland, at a time where Canadians continue to feel the pinch of inflation and are uncertain about the country's economic trajectory.

"We need to continue to put our very best foot forward and work even harder," he said, adding that he's "so proud" to continue this work alongside his deputy prime minister.

"We're bolstering that economic team with the likes of Jean-Yves Duclos, Sean Fraser, Anita Anand and others that are going to continue to step up and make sure Canadians know that we've got their backs, but we've also got them into the kind of ambitious and optimistic future I know Canadians want, and that is a clear contrast from the 'brokenness' philosophy that the leader of the Conservative Party continues to put forward," Trudeau said. 

Trudeau's entire top tier was invited to attend the ceremony at the governor general's residence, regardless of if they were on the move or not. Also there to watch were some of Trudeau's top PMO staffers, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, and a number of ministers' aides. The shuffle is now likely to also trigger a considerable staffing shakeup.  


A senior government source told CTV News that Trudeau and his inner circle have looked at this shuffle as "fortifying" the prime minister's economic team around issues such as housing affordability and the clean energy transition, to present a clear contrast to their main Conservative opponents when it comes to how they view and communicate on these issues.

It's also been widely discussed that elevating high-performers into key posts today may help the Liberals, after eight years in power, present a refreshed face to make the case to the Canadian public that they're re-electable.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Wednesday's changes have not changed the size of the cabinet, with 38 members—19 men and 19 women— in the gender-balanced cabinet, not counting the prime minister. Maintaining gender parity is a standard Trudeau set when his first cabinet was sworn-in in 2015.

This shakeup is the first major change since the Liberals' 2021 election win, and the prime minister is hoping with these changes to lock in the team he will lead into the next election, currently slated for 2025.

Asked Wednesday whether he could commit to not pulling the plug on the current minority Parliament and launching the country into an early election, Trudeau was not absolute, but said they still have "so much work to do over the coming years."

With all parties continuing to prepare for the next election, the opposition is already signalling that these changes aren't going to be enough to turn around slipping Liberal polling numbers.

From Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre stating Trudeau should be the one getting a new job, to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, and Green Party Deputy Leader Jonathan Pedneault all noting several problem files remain, the reset team has their work cut out for them.

"Despite the appearance of a new beginning, this government is poised to continue in the same direction at a time when the problems facing Canadians warrant foundational changes to our economy, our politics and our federation," Pedneault said in a statement. "Just like Pierre Poilievre taking off his glasses, Justin Trudeau's cabinet reshuffle has more to do with cosmetics than politics." 

Last on the itinerary for the new cabinet on their big day, was a 4 p.m. EDT meeting in West Block.

Holding cabinet meetings shortly after a shuffle is something Trudeau has done in the past, with analysts suggesting it's an effort to signal that the team is rolling up their sleeves and getting to work right away.

Trudeau's office confirmed Wednesday that "in the coming weeks" changes will be announced to the makeup of cabinet committees, and the membership of a new "National Security Council" that is being billed as "a new forum for ministers to deliberate on and address issues of pressing concern to Canada's domestic and international security."

Then, it'll be on the new ministry to get down to work on the refocused promises Trudeau mandates them to prioritize, a prepare for the September return of Parliament. 




opinion Don Martin: How a beer break may have doomed the carbon tax hike

When the Liberal government chopped a planned beer excise tax hike to two per cent from 4.5 per cent and froze future increases until after the next election, says political columnist Don Martin, it almost guaranteed a similar carbon tax move in the offing. Top Stories

Local Spotlight

Stay Connected