Canada: New Energy? Trudeau Unveils Cabinet, Mix Of Newcomers And Veterans In Key Portfolios

On November 4, 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new cabinet were sworn in, reflecting a mix of both veteran Ministers of the Chrétien era as well as newly elected Members of Parliament. The federal Cabinet in order of precedence is:

  • Justin Trudeau - Prime Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth
  • Ralph Goodale - Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Lawrence MacAulay - Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Stéphane Dion - Foreign Affairs
  • John McCallum - Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees
  • Carolyn Bennett - Indigenous and Northern Affairs
  • Scott Brison - Treasury Board President
  • Dominic Leblanc - Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Navdeep Bains - Innovation, Science and Economic Development
  • Bill Morneau - Finance Minister
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould - Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  • Judy Foote - Public Services and Procurement
  • Chrystia Freeland - International Trade
  • Jane Philpott – Health
  • Jean-Yves Duclos - Families, Children and Social Development
  • Marc Garneau – Transport
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau - International Development and La francophonie
  • James Carr - Natural Resources
  • Mélanie Joly – Heritage
  • Dianne Lebouthillier - National Revenue
  • Kent Hehr - Veterans Affairs, and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Catherine McKenna - Environment and Climate Change
  • Harjit Sajjan - National Defence
  • MaryAnn Mihychuck - Employment Workforce Development and Labour
  • Amarjeet Sohi - Infrastructure and Communities
  • Maryam Monsef - Democratic Institutions
  • Carla Qualtrough - Sport, and Persons with Disabilities
  • Hunter Tootoo - Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Coastguard
  • Kirsty Duncan – Science
  • Patricia Hajdu - Status of Women
  • Bardish Chagger - Small Business and Tourism

Of particular interest to the energy sector will be new ministers at the Environment and Climate Change and Natural Resources portfolios as well as the appointment of Kent Hehr, a former lawyer and well known provincial member of the legislature, as political minister for Calgary and Southern Alberta.

Environment and Climate Change 

Catherine McKenna, a newly elected, Ottawa-area MP, is the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.  A lawyer by background, in her prior career Ms. McKenna focused on international trade and competition. Her experience includes acting as a legal adviser and negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor.

The reference to climate change as part of the ministry - a portfolio previously known only as "Environment" - clearly suggests a revised mandate.   Ms. McKenna will be called upon immediately to support the Prime Minister at the December, 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.  

The Liberals indicated in opposition that carbon pricing will be left to the provinces with the federal government taking on a co-ordinating and implementation role. The key policy issues for Canada's energy sector will likely include the stringency levels the Prime Minister and Minister McKenna ultimate require, and how the federal climate change architecture co-exists with existing provincial frameworks.   

Natural Resources 

At Natural Resources is Jim Carr, a Winnipeg-area MP and newcomer to federal politics, who previously served as a member of the provincial legislature. Outside of politics, Mr. Carr worked as a professional musician, journalist and business person, including founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba.  At Natural Resources, Minister Carr will be helping shape the Liberal administration's approach to pipelines and energy market access. Mr. Carr will also sit on the committee of cabinet which oversees government spending and human resources, the committee on environment and climate change and energy and the committee on world and public security and its subcommittee on U.S. relations.

While pipelines and climate have dominated the oil and gas conversation in this election cycle, the sector may be more directly impacted by any repeal of energy reforms announced as part of Economic Action Plan 2012.  Those changes attempted to address limited international market access for Canada's oil and gas. 

Examples included streamlining the federal regulatory process toward a "one project, one review" system, setting timelines for hearings and assessments, extending the term of natural gas export licences from 25 to 40 years and finalizing an accord with the Province of Québec over petroleum development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Liberals opposed recent changes to the National Energy Board Act on the grounds they deny stakeholders' participatory rights and undermine environmental protections.  It is not expected, however, that amendments to federal energy legislation will be an immediate priority for the new government.  

Prime Minister Trudeau has named himself as intergovernmental affairs minister.  Provinces will, in principle, have greater engagement with the Prime Minister as he tries to implement policy on a collaborative basis. This may be relevant for pipelines, climate change and other interprovincial issues.

Prime Minister Trudeau has committed his government to a fast-moving, active agenda. He has provided mandate letters to new Ministers and is expected to recall Parliament before the end of 2015.   As federal Ministries start to implement policy direction, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP will be watching and reporting on material developments.

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