Federal ministers still lack mandate letters, two months after majority shuffled

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to issue mandate letters for his cabinet ministers, two months after announcing an overhaul to his front bench.

Defence Minister Bill Blair said last week that he hasn't received a new mandate letter and is acting on the list of commitments that Trudeau assigned to his predecessor in December 2021, three months after that year's election.

Trudeau's government has assigned new tasks to the military in recent months, while asking it to cut $1 billion in spending, and opposition parties are seeking clarity on how ministers are being told to prioritize their assignments.

Acadia University political scientist Alex Marland says mandate letters help clarify what a government wants to do outside of an election period.

He says the civil service can operate without letters being made public, but notes that minister themselves have said they're eager to receive their marching orders, and some have new portfolios that never existed before.

The Prime Minister's Office has been asked to comment on whether all 30 ministers who have new or updated roles will be assigned a fresh mandate letter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2023.

The Canadian Press