With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expected to shuffle his cabinet as early as Wednesday, a string of Liberal ministers have confirmed they will not run in the next federal election.
Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, Public Services and Procurement Minister Helena Jaczek and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett all announced this week that they will not seek re-election.
Trudeau has been holding private meetings in the capital this week, while several other ministers have cancelled public appearances — both signs of an impending shake-up.
A government source with knowledge of the matter said the cabinet shuffle would happen as soon as Wednesday. They were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it publicly.
The last time Trudeau shuffled his cabinet in a significant way was in 2021. Experts say the expected adjustments this week will show who Trudeau wants with him on the battleground.
“This is the cabinet that the government is going to be taking into the next election,” said Jeni Armstrong, an instructor in the Clayton Riddell graduate program in political management at Carleton University.
“So what I’m looking for is files that really matter to Canadians: cost of living, affordability, housing, increasingly.”
Armstrong, who was lead speechwriter for Trudeau and helped author the Liberal party’s election platform in 2015 and 2019, said the government is going to be looking for their strongest communicators to fill those files.
“People who can really connect with Canadians, who can understand what folks are going through and who can bring those stories back to the cabinet table as well,” she said.
The next federal election must take place by October 2025, per fixed election date provisions in the law. But it could be called well before then.
Trudeau’s minority government is currently being propped up by the New Democrats through a confidence-and-supply agreement. The NDP agreed to support the minority Liberals on key House of Commons votes through 2025 in exchange for movement on shared priorities.
Armstrong said she isn’t surprised by the recent string of resignations because the job can be a grind. But the fact there could be some empty seats in cabinet paves the way for a renewal after nearly eight years in power.
Jaczek, who was first elected in 2019, announced she won’t be seeking re-election on Tuesday, but said she will continue to serve her Markham-Stouffville constituency until the next election.
She was previously the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Alghabra, who was first elected in 2006, also announced his decision on Twitter, saying it came “after a lot of reflection.”
“As a result of this decision, I’m also stepping aside from my role as minister because the prime minister deserves a cabinet who is committed to running in the next federal campaign,” Alghabra said in a video posted on Twitter.
He said he will continue to support Trudeau’s vision going forward.
Alghabra has served as transport minister since 2021.
Murray, who was first elected in 2008, was the third to make her announcement on Twitter Tuesday.
“After much thought and reflection, I have decided not to run again in the next election after my current term,” she said.
“My work in politics and time serving my community both federally and provincially as an elected official has been the honour of my life.”
It was a reversal from what she told reporters in late June. She said on Parliament Hill that she would be the Liberal candidate for Vancouver Quadra in the next federal election.
Murray previously served as minister of digital government, and also served in the British Columbia provincial cabinet.
Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett also announced on Monday that she would not stand for re-election.
Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2023.
— With files from Stephanie Taylor.