Sean Fraser appointed to Trudeau cabinet as immigration minister

Sean Fraser and family members arrive for the cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Sean Fraser and family members arrive for the cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Central Nova MP Sean Fraser to the federal cabinet Tuesday. Fraser is the new minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

Fraser, a 37-year-old lawyer, is Nova Scotia's lone representative in the federal cabinet.

He was chosen over seven other Liberal MPs from the province including three from metro Halifax — Andy Fillmore, Darren Fisher and Darrell Samson — who were also first elected in 2015. Fillmore and Fisher tweeted their congratulations.

Fraser was the only newcomer selected to cabinet from the Maritimes.

He was accompanied by his wife, Sarah, and his children, Molly and Jack, as he made his way into the swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall on a rainy morning in Ottawa.

Fraser was parliamentary secretary to the minister of finance before his new appointment, which will pay him $269,500 annually.

He has won three elections in what had been a Conservative party stronghold under the father-and-son team of Elmer and Peter MacKay. Both MacKays held cabinet positions in a Conservative government.

Fraser's appointment was welcomed today by Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, another recently elevated Pictou County politician.

"Sean Fraser is a quality, quality individual," Houston told reporters at Province House. "He's a great ambassador not only for Pictou County but for all of Nova Scotia. I am really excited to have Sean in that role. I think he'll do a tremendous job."

'He understands the needs of this province'

Houston will be looking to Fraser as he pushes to double Nova Scotia immigration.

"He understands the needs of this province and the challenges and I know we can work really co-operatively with him to address some of the problems we face," Houston said.


The appointment did not surprise Lori Turnbull, a political scientist at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

"I think Sean Fraser has been a very effective MP and he's been a very effective member of the Liberal team," she said. "And I think the PMO has noticed that. He's been the parliamentary secretary."

She said Fraser became more visible before and during the recent federal election campaign as a participant on political panels in Ottawa.

"So I think his talent was being recognized," she said.

Turnbull said the only doubt was whether newly elected Halifax West MP Lena Diab would beat him out because of the Trudeau's commitment to gender parity in cabinet.

Fraser succeeds Bernadette Jordan as Nova Scotia's cabinet representative. The member for South Shore-St Margarets was minister of fisheries and oceans when she was defeated in the Sept. 20 election.

Fisheries minister takes on demanding role

Trudeau appointed Vancouver MP Joyce Murray to the fisheries and oceans post, following a customary practice of alternating ministers from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Osborne Burke, the president of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance, said Murray has taken on one of the toughest assignments in cabinet.

"There's a lot of challenges and you need somebody that's going to be engaged, willing to roll up their sleeves and get in the middle of the discussions," he said.

"There's lots of demands from the inshore, offshore sector, Indigenous and moderate livelihood. Harvesters from various districts and many species from lobster to snow crab to groundfish to the latest discussions we're seeing take place on the increase in the redfish increase in quota."