Lafreniere hangs on to Indigenous Affairs file as Legault unveils cabinet

Quebec Premier Francois Legault named his new Indigenous MNA to cabinet as expected last week, but not to the Indigenous Affairs file as some in the community had hoped.

Former Montreal police officer Ian Lafreniere will stay in possession of the Indigenous Affairs portfolio while Duplessis’ Indigenous MNA, Kateri Champagne Jourdain was handed the economy portfolio.

“I want to see her nomination as a signal of reconciliation between the Quebec nation, the First Nations and the Inuit,” Legault said. “I want to be clear that this doesn’t mean that Kateri has this on her shoulders, all Quebecers have this on their shoulders.”

The new cabinet has 16 men and 14 women in addition to the premier himself. Legault has said his goal was to have a cabinet between 40 and 60 percent women. In 2018, Legault announced a 26-member cabinet and achieved gender parity for about three months before a cabinet shuffle.

New Chateauguay MNA Marie-Belle Gendron was not named to a cabinet post. Her predecessor, Marie-Chantal Chasse, held the environment portfolio for three months in 2018, but no such posting was coming for Gendron.

“It’s (an exercise) that is heartbreaking, especially when you see the quality of the members we have, of the 90 members, all the more heartbreaking since, for the most part, it was me who convinced you to get on board,” Legault said of those who didn’t get a post in cabinet.

Many prominent names held onto their cabinet posts such as Christian Dube, who will stay on as health minister, and Genevieve Guilbeault, who will add the transport portfolio to her deputy premier title. Eric Girard will remain finance minister.

Embattled education minister Jean-Francois Roberge will be replaced by former PQ minister and Radio-Canada journalist Bernard Drainville.

In addition, Jean Boulet will hang onto the post of labour minister, but lost his other posts, including the immigration portfolio, after being roundly criticized for saying 80 per cent of immigrants don’t work, speak French or adhere to Quebec values.

Legault said during the campaign Boulet was unfit to return as immigration minister and so he handed the file to Christine Frechette, who grabbed the South Shore battleground of Sanguinet for the CAQ.

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase