Yesterday Justin Trudeau was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Canada following the Liberal Party’s performance in last month’s election. He also announced his cabinet, and his government announced that it would restore the mandatory long-form census. I’ll focus on the cabinet, but the census decision is a big deal, especially with the next one scheduled for 2016. The official list of the top tier Cabinet appointments is online.
The census decision was announced by the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, MP Navdeep Bains. Minister Bains was returned to Parliament in this year’s election, having served previously in Parliament from 2004-2011. His training is in finance and his non-Parliamentary experience has been in financial analysis. Like the new UK Minister with responsibility for science, Jo Johnson, Bains is considered a rising figure in his party.
Prime Minister Trudeau also appointed a Minister of Science, MP Kirsty Duncan. In a rarity for such a position, Duncan is a trained scientist, a medical geographer. This ministerial post is at a higher level in the cabinet than it was in the Harper Government (some would argue that it didn’t exist in that government, but I consider that a semantic argument). Duncan has served in Parliament since 2008, and was a professor at the University of Windsor and the University of Toronto before this. Details of her portfolio, and how things might differ now that this ministry is on a higher cabinet level, aren’t clear at the moment.
There are, of course, other appointments to the cabinet that will deal with science and/or technology matters.
MP Marc Garneau, retired astronaut and former head of the Canadian Space Agency, will be Minster of Transport. Garneau represented the Liberal Party in the national cross-party science debate.
MP Jim Carr will be the Minister of Natural Resources. This is his first term in Parliament, but has served in the Manitoba legislative assembly. His background is particularly varied, having (among other things) formed the Business Council of Manitoba, worked as a reporter on the Winnipeg Free Press, and played oboe for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
MP Catherine McKenna is the new Minister for Environment and Climate Change (climate change has been added to the job title). She is a lawyer and also in her first term in Parliament.
MP Dr. Jane Philpott is the new Health Minister, and also a first-termer in Parliament. She has years of experience in the health care industry and is a medical doctor of note.
MP Hunter Tootoo is the new Minister for Oceans and Fisheries and the Canadian Coast Guard. He is also a first-term federal MP, though he has experience in local and territorial government in Nunavut (go ahead, look it up). He has stated that Trudeau appointed him to the ministry in part because Trudeau wanted to remind Canadians they have three oceans. Tootoo is not the first Inuk nor the first MP from Nunavut to serve in a Canadian cabinet. His predecessor, Leona Aglukkaq, served as Minister of Health and then Minister of Environment during the Harper Government. Canada continues to take the Arctic seriously.