Freeland Tabbed as Finance Minister After Morneau’s Resignation

CBJ — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a Cabinet shuffle and more changes could be on the way. The PM has also prorogued Parliament following the resignation of Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Trudeau immediately selected Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland into the finance minister’s role, becoming the first woman ever tasked with the important portfolio.

The moves come in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the government’s plans, not to mention finances, with a deficit projected to be somewhere in the vicinity of $345 billion.

Morneau stepped down in the wake of the ongoing WE Charity student grant controversy. It’s also alleged Morneau felt he was no longer receiving the support of the PM and other senior members of the Liberal government, which ultimately pushed him to his final decision. There were also reports that Trudeau reached out to former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney for his advice. Carney has served as the Bank of England Governor for the past seven years. Meanwhile, Morneau is also stepping aside from his role as a Toronto MP and will not seek re-election.

Prorogation means a sudden end to the current Parliamentary session. It kills all legislative business that has not passed into law. It also means halting all ongoing WE Charity committee probes, and dropping any of the remaining pre-pandemic pieces of legislation. Trudeau says Parliament will resume on September 23, with approval from Governor General Julie Payette. When Trudeau first came to power he promised he would not prorogue Parliament. But with the government up to its neck in battling critical healthcare and economic issues in addition to the ethics violations, he felt there was no other choice but to take six weeks off and reset with a new plan of action.

Both Trudeau and Morneau did not recuse themselves from the cabinet table when WE was awarded a contract to run a now-halted $912-million summer program, despite having close family ties to the organization.  Opposition members say that Morneau stepping down is a good start but that Trudeau should follow suit. The most vocal opposition has come from Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who has been relentless in demanding both men leave the federal government.

The Opposition says Trudeau playing musical chairs with various portfolio appointments won’t deter from the fact the government has engaged in a number of ethics violations. There remains a possibility that an election could be coming in the fall, but it would take the Bloc Quebecois and one of the Conservatives or the NDP parties to support that initiative.

“Corruption, cover-up and chaos,” is how Poilievre described the situation. Poilievre says there has to be the appearance that Morneau resigned because if Trudeau were to have fired him, he too would also have to step down for the same violations. If Trudeau is also eventually forced to step down there is already talk that Freeland would be the likely successor as prime minister.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion is currently investigating both Morneau and Trudeau pertaining to the WE Charity.