Justin Trudeau is plotting a summer cabinet shuffle — and all eyes are on Mendicino

As the Liberal team recovers from a bruising few weeks in Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to reshuffle his cabinet over the summer, sources have told Radio-Canada.

Many changes are to be expected. Several Liberal sources – who spoke to Radio-Canada on the condition of not being named – said they believed Marco Mendicino was at risk of being removed as public safety minister.

Asked about the possibility of a reshuffle ahead of Tuesday morning’s cabinet meeting, Trudeau had little to say.

“I’m going to a cabinet meeting at the moment. We’re going to have a lot of good work to do and I have nothing to announce today,” he said.

WATCH: Prime Minister Trudeau brushes aside questions about cabinet reshuffle

Trudeau says he has ‘nothing to announce’ regarding cabinet reshuffle

On his way to a cabinet meeting, reporters ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he will reshuffle his cabinet over the summer.

But behind the scenes, sources say, advisers to the prime minister have been laying the groundwork for cabinet changes for weeks. Members of the Prime Minister’s team, including deputy chiefs of staff Marjorie Michel and Brian Clow, interviewed ministers to ask if they planned to stand in the next election.

This is the first step in a reorganization that should bring changes at the top in several departments.

The cabinet reshuffle is expected over the summer, possibly as early as July. The Prime Minister’s Office is putting together the team that will be with him when the next federal election is called, sources said.

The reshuffle is an attempt to give the government a facelift after a difficult few months. The timing would allow new ministers to familiarize themselves with their files before the next cabinet retreat, scheduled for the end of August.

mendicino in danger

Mendicino has been under intense pressure for weeks. His handling of the gun control bill C-21, the communication problems related to Chinese interference in Canadian politics and the controversy surrounding the transfer of Paul Bernardo to a medium security prison have considerably tarnished his picture.

Behind the scenes, all the Liberals who spoke to Radio-Canada said they believed their colleague would have a hard time keeping his job in public security.

“Marco, I don’t think he’s going to stay,” said an elected official in French.

“Mendicino is at the top of the list,” a liberal strategist said in French when asked who was most likely to be demoted.

Liberal sources suggest Mendicino could be given another ministerial portfolio to allow him to rebuild his image.

On Tuesday, Trudeau was asked if he still trusted his Minister of Public Safety.

“I have full confidence in all the members who are in my cabinet,” he said in French, without referring directly to Mendicino.

“Only four or five people [in cabinet] are untouchable,” said a government policy adviser.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly holds a press conference in Toronto, Wednesday, January 18, 2023.
Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly is among the ministers who are not expected to trade jobs in the upcoming reshuffle. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Members of the Liberal caucus who spoke to Radio-Canada named several ministers who should not be demoted or transferred to new portfolios: Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault.

Sources said Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez could be given a new portfolio.

Speculation surrounds Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. Sources said some of his caucus colleagues have noticed a change in his attitude and a certain detachment since the last federal budget.

A Freeland spokeswoman said she was not going anywhere.

“The Deputy Prime Minister has already submitted her candidacy and is looking forward to running for office in her constituency,” the spokesperson wrote in French.

Sources say the Trudeau government wants to refocus its priorities ahead of the next session of Parliament, with a greater focus on the cost of living and the housing crisis.

Trudeau sent signals along these lines at the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on May 26. He announced that his next long-term infrastructure plan will be unveiled in the fall.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a podium
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Toronto on May 26, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn)

In his speech to the FCM, Trudeau’s remarks on the housing crisis and access to home ownership seemed to echo the message that Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has been delivering for months on access to housing.

“The housing crisis has put a generation of Canadians, especially millennials, in a position where they now think they may never be able to afford a house to raise their family, which was much easier for their parents and grandparents,” Trudeau said. elected officials.

With regard to the cost of living, the government intends to continue to promote its dental care and childcare initiatives.

Trudeau said he was encouraged by the results of Monday’s by-election, particularly in the rural Ontario riding of Oxford, where the Liberals came in second behind the Conservatives but got a bigger share of the vote. than in the last federal election. (The Tory vote in Oxford may have been undermined by a dispute among local Tory supporters over the party’s nomination.)

Trudeau said Tuesday that the Oxford result shows “the government’s message is resonating.”

“We are very pleased to continue to share strong positive messages with Canadians over the coming summer,” he said.

Liberal MPs say they are confident that, in the face of the Tory leader’s more aggressive tone, left-leaning voters will switch to their column in the next election campaign.

“Social progressives are scared of Poilievre,” said a liberal lawmaker on condition of anonymity.

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