Trudeau cabinet shuffle divvies up regional economic development agenda to handful of ministers

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet on October 26, and with a focus on climate action, housing, and economic recovery, there were changes to who is responsible for economic development.

The shuffle kicks off Trudeau’s third mandate and follows the recent election that saw the prime minister lose some of his cabinet ministers. For the innovation and business sector, the most notable change is Mélanie Joly who was given the role of foreign affairs minister after serving as minister of economic development and official languages.

With Joly taking on the notable foreign affairs agenda, Trudeau has divided her previous responsibilities, handing some to Mary Ng, who takes on economic development in addition to international trade, export promotion, and small business.

Joly had also previously been tasked with managing Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDA). Now, responsibility for the seven agencies falls to six different ministers.

Patty Hajdu, who becomes minister of indigenous services is responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario. Helena Jaczek is the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Ginette Petitpas Taylor has taken over Joly’s role as minister of official languages and responsibility for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

Pascale St-Onge, minister of sport, is responsible for Quebec’s RDA; with Dan Vandal, minister of northern affairs, responsible for two RDAs: Prairies Economic Development Canada and Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Former foreign affairs minister Harjit S. Sajjan becomes minister of international development, with responsibility for the newly created Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada. Conservatives had called for the firing of Sajjan as foreign affairs minister, citing a track record of failure over the past six years.

The responsibility for the RDAs is a second shift for the agenda over the last couple of years. Joly took over the RDAs in a 2019 cabinet shuffle after Bains had held the agenda item. The latest changes follow the federal government looking to divvy up economic development responsibilities on a more regional basis, thus the division of the Western Canada agency into one for British Columbia and one for the Prairies.

François-Philippe Champagne remains minister of innovation, science, and industry; he took on the role in January after Navdeep Bains announced he was not seeking reelection.

Some publications reported Champagne’s title has changed to the minister of innovation, science, and commerce, in line with changes to the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). However, the government’s press release does not note a change in title. BetaKit has reached out to ISED for clarification.

A notable addition to Trudeau’s cabinet is environmental activist Steven Guilbeault who was promoted to leading the Liberal government’s climate plan. He takes on the role of minister of environment and climate change.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Associate Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.