Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay rises in the House of Commons during Question Period in Ottawa on Monday, June 11, 2018. (Patrick Doyle/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau names longtime MP as new veterans-affairs minister in cabinet shuffle

The official headquarters for the Department of Veterans Affairs is outside the capital region

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making longtime MP Lawrence MacAulay his new veterans-affairs minister to fill the void left by the resignation of Jody Wilson-Raybould as part of a minor cabinet shuffle this morning.

Two other ministers already in cabinet are taking on new responsibilities: Marie-Claude Bibeau replaces MacAulay as agriculture minister and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef takes on the additional portfolio of international development.

That means Bibeau will be responsible for selling trade agreements to Quebec dairy farmers that will reduce the protective effect of supply management in their industry. She’s also the first female federal agriculture minister.

“It’s a huge privilege — I come from a rural riding, a dairy riding, in fact, in the south of Quebec, so I’m very close to the producers in Quebec,” she said outside Rideau Hall after being sworn in. She said she’s eager to meet with them.

MacAulay will take over responsibility for a new veterans-benefits regime that the parliamentary budget officer reported last week will mean less generous support for veterans leaving the Canadian Forces.

Like Wilson-Raybould before him, MacAulay said he didn’t see the move to Veterans Affairs as a demotion.

READ MORE: Five things we learned from Wilson-Raybould at the justice committee

“To have the honour to represent the people who protect peace and democracy for us worldwide, that’s a long piece from a demotion,” he said.

Unusually, the official headquarters for the Department of Veterans Affairs is outside the capital region — it’s in Charlottetown, MacAulay’s home province.

Wilson-Raybould, who was moved from the justice portfolio to veterans affairs in the last federal cabinet shuffle in mid-January, resigned her post Feb. 12.

On Wednesday, Wilson-Raybould testified to the House of Commons justice committee that she was pressured by Trudeau, his senior staff and others to halt a criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

She said she believed she was shuffled out as attorney general and justice minister because she didn’t give in to the political arm-twisting.

Trudeau has denied the SNC-Lavalin affair had anything to do with Wilson-Raybould’s move, saying she would still be justice minister had former Treasury Board president Scott Brison not suddenly decided to leave politics.

Asked by reporters, all three of them said they will support Trudeau’s decision on whether Wilson-Raybould stays in the Liberal caucus after her public criticisms of the way Trudeau and his staff handled her.

“She’s a very well-respected lady,” MacAulay said of Wilson-Raybould, but what to do about her place in their party is up to the prime minister.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Don’t take hair into your own hands, urge Okanagan stylists

New Vernon shop expects high demand come May, since opening delayed

Virtual physio connects patients with Vernon practitioners

Many local physiotherapists are ready to assist, online

Burning permits doused in pair of North Okanagan electoral areas

Regional District of North Okanagan Areas B and C cancel permits to combat COVID-19 virus

Vernon, Kelowna denturists hit hard amid COVID-19

Okanagan denture clinics wonders if they’ll ever be able sustain the sting of pandemic

No need to press the walk button at Vernon crosswalks

City automating intersections in response to COVID-19

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

COLUMN: Plenty of online reading options

Libraries are closed due to COVID-19 but downloads are available through Okanagan Regional Library

Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Most Read