LILLEY: Trudeau drops ministers in droves ahead of cabinet shuffle

Trudeau government going for major refresh by dropping old faces, bringing in the new.

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The Trudeau Liberals were throwing bodies overboard ahead of the cabinet shuffle faster than many people could count. It started with Carolyn Bennett announcing she wouldn’t run, quickly followed by Omar Alghabra, Helena Jaczek and Joyce Murray.

Add to that the leaks about Marco Medicino, David Lametti and Mona Fortier all being dropped from cabinet and we’ve got seven of 39 leaving before the shuffle has even begun.

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“After almost 11 years as a member of Parliament, two and a half years as a minister and six elections, I’ve made the difficult decision to not run in the next election,” Alghabra said in a video posted to his social media accounts.

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Trudeau had asked cabinet ministers to commit to running in the next election ahead of the shuffle. Some decided to jump before getting pushed. That election could, in theory, come any time given the minority Parliament but could still be two years off thanks to the coalition agreement with the NDP.

That means, current cabinet ministers were being asked to commit themselves to another six years in office, a commitment some weren’t willing to make. With Bennett and Jaczek being 72 and Murray 69, stepping down shouldn’t come as a shock and we may still see more ministers in this age category, like Bill Blair, 69, or Lawrence McAuley, 76, make the same calculation before the shuffle takes place.

Blair was spotted Tuesday heading to the prime minister’s residence on the grounds of Rideau Hall as were Anita Anand, currently at defence and Sean Fraser, currently at immigration. While some have touted Anand to take over public safety from the soon to be departed Marco Mendicino, CBC has reported she will take on an economic portfolio such as Treasury Board, an appointment that can only be described as a demotion.

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Perhaps Anand is being punished for not curtailing her leadership ambitions and continuing to organize as a replacement for Justin Trudeau when he leaves office. Trudeau has shown that despite his feminist claims, he doesn’t actually like strong women around him.

Meanwhile Blair, who really should retire, has been touted as Anand’s replacement at defence. He couldn’t read memos on China threatening a Canadian MP and their family, so let’s put him in charge of the military.

Reports have Pablo Rodriguez moving from Heritage, where he botched the C-18, online news act rollout to transportation, a much more complex file. Pascal St. Onge, who took on Hockey Canada at sport, is touted as his replacement.

One name floated to replace Mendicino at public safety is Trudeau confidante and fixer Dominic LeBlanc.

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This shuffle has the potential to be bigger than most, well beyond simply replacing the seven who will be retiring or reportedly booted from cabinet.

It’s not a given that all seven would be replaced, though cabinet is more likely to stay the same size, or even grown than it is to shrink. Trudeau started out with 30 ministers in 2015 and now has 38 ministers, a sign that government’s grow as they age.

In addition to considering regional balances, Trudeau is likely to adhere to his self-imposed rule for having a cabinet made up of an equal number of women and men. He may be regretting his once lofty pledge given many of the ministers causing his headaches right now are many and many of those poised for promotion are women, but unless he breaks his pledge, he can’t have more women in his cabinet than men.

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Expect Anna Gainey from Montreal to be appointed to cabinet. The rookie MP is a longtime Liberal activist and personal friend of the PM who even accompanied Trudeau, along with her family, on the infamous trip to the Aga Khan’s private island.

Ben Carr is another rookie expected to be appointed to cabinet. Carr recently won the Winnipeg by-election called to replace his late father, and Trudeau cabinet minister, Jim Carr.

If Trudeau is filling all the existing positions, he will need another three women and two men to meet his criteria.

Merit will only come into consideration after all other criteria have been met and the biggest criteria is you don’t show up the boss.

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