PM's pre-election shuffle eyes border, trade and bruising provincial relations


Indian-origin Amarjeet Sohi from Edmonton Mill Woods was shifted to natural resources ministry. During his tenure with Natural Resources Canada, Minister Carr oversaw the launch and development of a new federal-provincial Minerals and Metals Strategy, focused on protecting and growing one of Canada's most important economic sectors.

Francois-Philippe Champagne becomes Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, he had been Minister of International Trade.

Ontario and the GTA - The Liberal cabinet got more Ontario-centric with the addition of Ng, Blair and Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi as minister for seniors.

Following the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ottawa has faced growing challenges related to irregular border crossers and big unknowns surrounding Canada-U.S. trade, including an escalating tariff dispute and the hard renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He will be in charge of ties with the 10 provinces, which are increasingly uneasy with some of Ottawa's policies.

Mary Ng, a former staffer in the Prime Minister's Office who was elected in a byelection a year ago, was appointed minister of small business and export promotion Wednesday.

Trudeau says the strains with Washington show the danger of relying so much on the United States, which takes 75 per cent of all Canadian goods exports. It features 17 men and 17 women, plus Prime Minister Trudeau.

"We need to diversify our markets and we need to ensure that we are not as dependent on the US", Trudeau said.

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Carr was at the Natural Resources helm during the government's recent C$4.5 billion ($3.46 billion) purchase of Kinder Morgan's controversial Trans Mountain expansion, which would almost triple the current system's capacity to 890,000 barrels per day of crude from Alberta's oil sands to the country's west coast. As minister of trade diversification, he will pursue the same themes on a wider scale, he said on Wednesday.

Trudeau's Liberals have fallen to 35.5 per cent support in Canada's multiparty system, from 38.8 per cent a year ago, according to an aggregator run by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Since 2000, "diversification has been positive in every single province ... and every single industry category with the exception of wheat has seen positive movement on the diversification front", he said.

Yet Trudeau noticeably avoided any mention of Trump, who offered warm words for the Russian president during the summit in Helsinki while appearing to blame his own country for poor relations with Moscow and accept Putin's denials of having interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election.

"Diversification is not about abandoning the thing that is driving most of our exports business", he said.

Bill Morneau, Harjit Sajjan, Lawrence MacAulay, Carolyn Bennett, Marc Garneau, Ahmed Hussen - There was speculation heading into the shuffle that one or more would be demoted due to controversy, poor communication skills or their length of tooth. He will be charged with promoting the Canada-European Union trade agreement to other E.U. countries that have not yet ratified it, and restart efforts to create a trade agreement with China.

"Is the firm itself diversified, open to innovation, open to engagement by a wider range of employees, open to other cultures?" he said.