Author: Zoe Barlas
This Tuesday, 38 political leaders swore to serve in the 44th Federal Cabinet under the leadership of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Parliament will recommence on 22 November. While we wait for the Throne Speech and the Mandate letters, here is an overview of cabinet leaders the sector will be looking to re-connect with and meet.
Our sector is getting ready to meet a number of newly appointed cabinet letters. One of the notable exceptions is Minister Chrystia Freeland, who remains in her position as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
Minister Chrystia Freeland
Ms. Freeland was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre in July 2013. She was elected as Member of Parliament for University—Rosedale in October 2015 and re-elected in October 2019 and September 2021.
From November 2015 to January 2017, Ms. Freeland served as Canada’s Minister of International Trade, overseeing the successful negotiation of Canada’s free trade agreement with the European Union, CETA. From January 2017 to November 2019, she served as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. During this time, she was a leading advocate for democracy, human rights, and multilateralism around the world. As Foreign Minister, she led and successfully concluded the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
In November 2019, Ms. Freeland was appointed Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. In this capacity, she led Canada’s united response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was appointed Minister of Finance in August 2020.
Role: Minister Freeland remains an important decision-maker in efforts to propel Canada towards meeting its international commitments. Canada contributes only 30 cents for every 100 dollars in national revenue in international assistance, leaving the Feminist International Assistance Policy chronically underfunded. To improve Canada’s global engagement, dialogue with Minister Freeland will remain vital to solving issues of increasing Canada’s official development assistance and amending Income Tax Act provisions that dictate the harmful ‘direction and control’ regime.
Honourable Mona Fortier becomes President of the Treasury Board
The Honourable Mona Fortier was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier in 2017 and is the first woman to represent the riding. She has previously served as Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance.
Prior to being elected, Minister Fortier worked as the Chief Director of Communications and Market Development at Collège La Cité and managed her own strategic communications-consulting firm. She has also served on several non-profit Boards of Directors, including for Montfort Hospital, Ontario’s Provincial Advisory Committee on Francophone Affairs, and the Shaw Centre. In addition, she has received numerous awards for her community involvement, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Role: In her role, Honourable Fortier will be responsible for ensuring that policies and programs approved by Cabinet receive adequate resources and support for their implementation across relevant government departments. Alongside Minister Freeland, Minister Fortier will be an important interlocutor in discussions on Canada’s contribution to global efforts to solve challenges that affect us all.
Honourable Diane Lebouthillier remains Minister of National Revenue
Honourable Diane Lebouthillier was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine in 2015. She has served as the Minister of National Revenue since 2015. Minister Lebouthillier is a former elected warden for the Regional County Municipality of Rocher-Percé and owner of La Ferme du Petit Moulin, an outfitting operation. While working for the late Georges Mamelonet, a Member of the National Assembly of Quebec for Gaspé, she focused on social issues in the region.
Before entering politics, Minister Lebouthillier spent more than 23 years working with clients at the Rocher-Percé Health and Social Services Centre. Minister Lebouthillier served on the Board of Governors of Cégep de la Gaspésie et des Îles, and chaired the boards of directors of Réseau collectif Gaspésie Les Îles and Transport adapté et collectif des Anses. She was also the Vice-Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Les Ateliers Actibec 2000 inc.
Role: Canada’s international cooperation sector is increasingly tied to the matters addressed by the Ministry of National Revenue. Minister Lebouthillier remains an important interlocutor as the sector works with political actors to amend the 70-year-old Income Tax Act provisions that result in the outdated ‘direction and control’ regulations. Direction and Control regulations stand as an international anomaly and severely constrain Canada’s charitable actors and their efforts to establish equitable and effective partnerships with communities and social justice allies in Canada and abroad. To learn more about this issue click here, to join Cooperation Canada’s working group and help us address this issue, click here.
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan is the new Minister of International Development
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan was first elected as Member of Parliament for Vancouver South in 2015. He served as Minister of National Defence from 2015 to 2021. Minister Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India with his family when he was five years old. He grew up in South Vancouver. He is only the second International Development minister from a developing country.
Minister Sajjan is a former detective with the Vancouver Police Department, a former Lieutenant Colonel with the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), and a long-time advocate for youth education and mentorship programs. As a member of the British Columbia Regiment, he participated in four operational deployments – one to Bosnia and three to Afghanistan.
Role: Honourable Sajjan will be responsible for overseeing Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), which remains underfunded and in need of more effective mechanisms in line with good practices outlined at the level of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations. Minister Sajjan will also oversee the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada (PacifiCan), which aims to support local businesses and ensuring economic prosperity within British Colombia. PacifiCan budget saw an increase of $553 million over five years in Budget 2021.
The Minister has a chance to strengthen Canada’s broader foreign engagement, which increasingly revolves around international assistance. Another important file would be that of re-imagining development cooperation, as donor agencies and international civil society organizations alike are called to support anti-racist approaches and commit to more equitably re-distributing resources and decision-making towards communities the sector aims to support.
Honourable Mélanie Joly is the new Minister of Foreign Affairs
Honourable Mélanie Joly was first elected to represent Ahuntsic-Cartierville in the House of Commons in 2015. She has previously served as Minister of Economic Development, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie, and Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Prior to entering federal politics, Minister Joly founded the Vrai changement pour Montréalparty and ran for mayor of Montréal in 2013 under its banner. Minister Joly holds an Honours Bachelor of Law from the Université de Montréal and a Magister Juris in European and Comparative Law from the University of Oxford. She is the author of Changing the Rules of the Game, in which she shares her vision for public policy and civic engagement. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
Role: Minister Joly will be responsible for overseeing Canada’s international diplomacy. With the international development portfolio under the purview of Minister Ng, hopes are high about Minister Joly’s ability to finally deliver on the promise made by the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Champagne, of articulating a way towards Canada’s more comprehensive and feminist approach to foreign policy.
The Honourable Anita Anand becomes Minister of National Defence
Honourable Anita Anand was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Oakville in 2019. She has previously served as Minister of Public Services and Procurement. Minister Anand has worked as a scholar, lawyer, and researcher. She has been a legal academic, including as a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto where she held the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance. She served as Associate Dean and was a member of the Governing Board of Massey College and the Director of Policy and Research at the Capital Markets Research Institute, Rotman School of Management. She has also taught law at Yale Law School, Queen’s University, and Western University.
Minister Anand has completed extensive research on the regulation of financial markets, corporate governance, and shareholder rights, and has appeared regularly in the media to discuss these topics. In 2015, she was appointed to the Government of Ontario’s Expert Committee to Consider Financial Advisory and Financial Planning Policy Alternatives. She has conducted research for Ontario’s Five-Year Review Committee, the federal Wise Person’s Committee, and the Task Force to Modernize Securities Legislation in Canada. In 2019, the Royal Society of Canada awarded her the Yvan Allaire Medal for outstanding contributions in governance relating to private and public organizations.
Role: Minister Anand will be in charge of military deployment and spending. This includes managing, as Peace Brigades International (PBI) summarizes “a planned increase in military spending from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27, which amounts to $553 billion on a cash basis over 20 years.” Anand will also face the challenge of addressing the systematic issue of sexual exploitation and abuse from which the Government is still reeling. Another challenge is the discrepancy in Canada’s announced military spending and the calls for ‘military savings’ in these times of public health crisis and insufficient social protection, as the campaign against 19-billion-dollar warplanes highlights.
The Honourable Mary Ng remains Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
The Honourable Mary Ng was first elected as Member of Parliament for Markham—Thornhill in 2017. She has previously served as Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.
Minister Ng is a devoted community leader who has always believed in the power of public service. She has 20 years of experience in the areas of education, women’s leadership, job creation, and entrepreneurship. Minister Ng immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong with her family and grew up learning about the struggle and eventual success that many new immigrants experience in Canada.
Her years working for the Ontario Public Service, Ryerson University, and the Ontario Ministry of Education led to her being recognized as one of Canada’s top-performing public sector leaders. She later served as Director of Appointments for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Role: Minister Ng remains in the same Ministry but with an important addition to her portfolio as she takes on international economic development, on top of international trade and oversight of Export Development Canada (EDC). EDC is under scrutiny for channeling $13 million annual investments in oil and gas industry (as Peace Brigades International PBI notes) despite the Government’s declared objective of addressing our climate emergency. Minister Ng remains a key actor for our sector, particularly related to the global debates on intellectual property rights of COVID-19 vaccines and increasingly loud calls to reform the World Trade Organization. WTO reform is deemed necessary for attempts to strengthen our current multilateralism, which in the words of the United Nations Secretary General himself, lacks teeth.
The Honourable Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
The Honourable Sean Fraser was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Central Nova in 2015. Minister Fraser previously served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance from 2019 to 2021, and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change from 2018 to 2019. In 2021, he also served concurrently as Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Before entering politics, Minister Fraser had a successful legal career with one of Canada’s top-ranked law firms, where he practised commercial litigation and international dispute resolution.
He is a long-time volunteer, having served as the Vice-President of a local branch of the United Nations Association in Canada, acted as a Research Fellow with the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, and provided pro bono legal services to the local BGC Club and vulnerable community members.
Role: Canada’s international cooperation sector has a special interest in supporting Minister Fraser, who will be responsible for making good on Canada’s promise to accept 250 human rights defenders, many of whom are women, journalists and LGBTQ2S+ advocates, each year. Canada has also pledged to take in 40,000 refugees fleeing Afghanistan, including families of individuals who collaborated with Canadian organizations over the last 13 years.
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of the Environment and Climate Change
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Laurier—Sainte-Marie in 2019. He has previously served as Minister of Canadian Heritage. Minister Guilbeault is a prominent advocate in the fight against the climate crisis and has been leading the charge from Laurier—Sainte-Marie for years.
In 1993, Minister Guilbeault co-founded Équiterre, the largest environmental organization in Quebec, and served as its Senior Director from 2008 to 2018. He also worked as a Director and Campaign Manager for Greenpeace and was a Strategic Advisor for more than 10 years at Cycle Capital Management, a Canadian fund dedicated to the development of clean technologies. Minister Guilbeault also worked for Deloitte & Touche as well as Copticom, a consulting firm specializing in the green and social economy, and transportation.
Role: Minister Guilbeault is well known within the sector as an ardent believer in environmental justice. He will now be responsible for ensuring Canada meets its goals of reducing carbon emissions and investing in green transformation and global climate finance. Minister Guilbeault’s engagement will be particularly important following Canada’s pledge to allocate CAD$5.3 billion over five years towards international climate finance.