Ottawa: Canada’s Justin Trudeau unveiled an inward-looking cabinet Wednesday, with rising star Chrystia Freeland swapping foreign affairs for a new role healing the country’s internal divisions.
The former foreign minister has been promoted to deputy leader tasked, alongside new Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, with wooing western provinces alienated by Ottawa’s environmental policies.
The prime minister expanded his cabinet to a slightly larger 36 members after the Liberals lost 20 seats on October 21, reducing a once-mighty juggernaut to a minority government.
The laundry list of looming issues is longer and more complex than when Trudeau took office in 2015 — including a slowing economy and geographic political divisions.
A particular worry for his chastened Liberals is the emergence of a separatist movement in the western province of Alberta, where the party was shut out at the ballot box.
Climate change emerged as one of the few galvanizing issues in the election, with two-thirds of Canadians voting for parties promising a tougher response.
But oil-rich provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan have rejected a federal carbon tax — one of the few of its scope in the world — unveiled earlier this year.
Trudeau exploded onto the world stage in 2015 as a strong liberal voice and a counterbalance to the rising right, declaring: “Canada is back!”
But the debonair world statesman faces an emboldened opposition at home, making every vote in parliament count.
The outlook is further complicated by a resurgence in chauvinism in the French-speaking province of Quebec that has triggered a revival of the Bloc Quebecois.
In Ottawa, the government’s fortunes have been placed in the hands of veteran MP Pablo Rodriguez.
As House leader, Rodriguez will have to negotiate with a fractious parliament to push the government’s agenda, which will be unveiled in detail on December 5.
On the international stage, Freeland’s replacement Francois-Philippe Champagne will have to deal with an ongoing diplomatic and trade row with China.