Guilbeault to become Canada's next environment minister as Trudeau unveils new cabinet

·4 min read
Liberal MP Steven Guilbeault arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2019. This time around he'll be taking the oath as environment minister, sources say. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Liberal MP Steven Guilbeault arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 20, 2019. This time around he'll be taking the oath as environment minister, sources say. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Long-time environmental activist Steven Guilbeault will be Canada's next minister of the environment and climate change, CBC News has confirmed.

Liberal sources told CBC News that Guilbeault, who has worked with groups such as Equiterre and Greenpeace, will be moved to the crucial portfolio from his previous post as heritage minister.

His appointment comes just days ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow (COP26), which will draw leaders from around the world — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — to discuss the climate crisis.

Harjit Sajjan, who has been serving as national defence minister amid a growing sexual misconduct crisis in the military, is also expected to be among those headed to new jobs when Trudeau reveals the makeup of his next cabinet Tuesday.

Liberal sources tell CBC News they are expecting a significant cabinet shuffle that will include the heads of multiple senior portfolios.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who took on that job just months before the pandemic, will also be moved to a new job. There are plans to add a second junior minister to the health portfolio.

Two to three current ministers are expected to be dropped from the cabinet entirely, sources also say.

The next cabinet will be sworn in Tuesday morning during a ceremony at Rideau Hall.

Trudeau has said the cabinet will have both gender parity and what he has called "proper regional distribution."

At least one senior minister will be keeping her job. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland has agreed to remain in both roles, Trudeau has said.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

While Sajjan will no longer oversee the embattled Department of National Defence — now embroiled in a sexual misconduct crisis in the military's leadership — he is expected to remain in cabinet with a new portfolio.

Sajjan, a former lieutenant-colonel in the army, has been minister of defence since 2015. The Conservatives and NDP have called for his resignation over accusations that he has failed to respond to the military's sexual misconduct problems.

Trudeau is expected to select a woman as Canada's next defence minister. Anita Anand, the current minister of public services and procurement, is considered a top candidate for the job.

Former prime minister Kim Campbell is the only woman ever to serve as Canada's defence minister. She held the title for the first five months of 1993.

Anand has raised her profile while leading Canada's vaccine procurement efforts during the pandemic.

Time for some new faces?

Sources say Sean Fraser, who has represented Central Nova since 2015 but has never served in cabinet, is likely to be among those named to cabinet tomorrow.

Marci Ien, the former CTV journalist who now represents Toronto Centre, and Randy Boissonnault, who reclaimed the riding of Edmonton Centre after a defeat in 2019, are also seen as top prospects for cabinet.

Pascale St-Onge, elected in Brome—Missisquoi, is considered one of the few rookies with a chance at nabbing a minister's role. St-Onge recently worked as a union leader in Quebec's cultural sector.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The last version of the Liberal cabinet had 37 ministers, including Trudeau. When Trudeau took office in 2015, he named a cabinet of 35 people. The cabinet was shuffled last on Jan. 12, 2021.

Trudeau's commitment to gender parity and the loss of four women ministers may necessitate several of the changes expected to be revealed tomorrow.

Ministers Maryam Monsef, Bernadette Jordan and Deb Schulte were all defeated in the recent election.

Catherine McKenna, who most recently served as minister of infrastructure and communities and was former environment minister, did not seek re-election.

Other changes are also on the way for senior staffers in the prime minister's office.

Marjorie Michel and Brian Clow each become deputy chief of staff to the prime minister. Michel, who was the Liberal Party's Quebec director of operations during the 2019 and 2021 campaigns, will lead office operations, outreach, human resources and public appointments. She will also focus on Quebec files.

Clow will oversee parliamentary affairs, issues management, communications and policy teams and will continue to oversee the global and COVID-19 affairs.

WATCH | Trudeau to unveil new cabinet Tuesday:

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