It was a grim little ceremony at Rideau Hall Tuesday afternoon as Justin Trudeau made the only cabinet shuffle that would have made any sense—handing the finance portfolio to overworked Chrystia Freeland, who took the oath in the presence of another tarnished icon Julie Payette. Her Intergovernmental Affairs portfolio has handed to Trudeau pal Domenic LeBlanc. There had been some suggestion that with Bill Morneau resigning his seat as well as the Cabinet post, it might open up a safe seat for former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney who could then slide into the finance post. But at 55 years of age, if Carney has interest in running the whole shebang, as is widely rumored, he is smart to let the Trudeau government unfold (or unravel, depending on one’s view). The appointment of Chrystia Freeland marks another promotion for Trudeau’s most capable minister, but it also underscores how threadbare the Liberal front benches are. Aside from Freeland and the departed Morneau it would be difficult for anyone other than political wonks to name three more ministers. Pierre Trudeau once said opposition MP’s were “nobody’s” 50 feet off Parliament Hill, now the same could be said of most of the cabinet. A political pundit, commenting on the events of the past 24 hours, observed that is very difficult for any Prime Minister to get elected three times in a row. Justin Trudeau is headed to election number three some time after October, now that he has prorogued parliament but almost surely no later than 2021. In December 2015, in the heady days after the Trudeau majority election, there was a big Liberal Christmas party in an Ottawa ballroom. The Trudeau’s were there and at one-point Sophie Trudeau got up and made a speech so stirring, that some in attendance jokingly said, “maybe we elected the wrong Trudeau.” Joking then, not so much maybe now.
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