OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to be the next federal finance minister, according to reports.
This comes after Bill Morneau abruptly resigned from the role on Monday.
If the change is finalized, it will be a historic moment as Freeland would be Canada’s first female finance minister.
She will keep her role as deputy prime minister, but reports suggest she will hand off her intergovernmental affairs portfolio to Dominic LeBlanc, who previously held the role before dealing with health issues.
But it seems Freeland’s new role will come with challenges.
Not only will she have to implement policies to revive Canada’s economy following the shock and recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but a senior source suggests the Trudeau government is looking at the recovery as a once in a lifetime opportunity to make monumental changes to Canadian society.
A cabinet shuffle is expected later in the day.
While NDP leader Jagmeet Singh congratulated Freeland, he says the prime minister has to do a lot more than shuffle the cabinet.
“Really, what we’ve seen as a pattern of behaviour with the Liberal government is, when given the chance, they end up helping themselves or their close friends, get caught up in scandals, and they waste that time that could be spent on helping Canadians and Canadians end up paying the price,” he says.
There is also word Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be proroguing parliament, which was due to begin next month.
For several weeks, opposition parties called for Morneau’s resignation following the WE Charity controversy.
The Conservatives are also renewing calls for Trudeau to step down as prime minister.
Morneau and Trudeau have both been scrutinized after the government awarded the WE Charity a $900-million contract for a student volunteer program. The government eventually cancelled the contract after it was revealed that members of Trudeau’s family had been paid for speaking engagements. To add to the controversy, Morneau later repaid $41,000 for a trip paid by the charity.
Tensions have also reportedly been growing between Trudeau and Morneau over COVID-19 economic policies.
But last week, Trudeau tried to shut down speculation that the now-former finance minister was on the way out, taking the unusual step of issuing a statement to say he had full confidence in Morneau and that reports of policy clashes between them were false.
Morneau insisted his decision to resign was based strictly on the fact that he doesn’t intend to run for re-election and his belief that the finance minister must be someone who will be around for the long, hard road to recovery ahead. He said he intends to run to be the next secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development instead.
-With files from Nikitha Martins and the Canadian Press