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Trade lawyer named federal trade minister

Freeland shuffled to foreign affairs as expected

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s latest mini-cabinet shuffle puts a Quebec lawyer specializing in international trade into the trade minister’s chair.

Trudeau on Tuesday appointed Francois-Philippe Champagne, the rookie MP for the Shawinigan-area riding of Saint-Maurice-Champlain, as minister of international trade, replacing Chrystia Freeland.

Freeland, as widely expected leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, becomes minister of foreign affairs, replacing Stephane Dion. However, the government said Tuesday, Freeland also keeps responsibility for the Canada-U.S. relations file, including trade relations.

Champagne, who has been parliamentary secretary to Finance Minister Bill Morneau since December 2015, was acting general counsel and strategic development director for AMEC, an engineering and consulting firm for the energy sector, before entering politics.

Champagne, 46, previously also served as a vice-president and senior counsel for international industrial tech firm ABB Group and was named in 2009 as a “young global leader” by the World Economic Forum.

Freeland, an internationally known journalist and author before entering politics, is known for her connections in Washington, but has also been a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has banned her from travel to Russia since 2014.

Tuesday’s shuffle also sees Ahmed Hussen named minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship, replacing John McCallum, a longtime MP and minister in previous Liberal administrations. Trudeau said Tuesday he plans to nominate McCallum as Canada’s ambassador to China.

Dion, a former federal Liberal leader and MP since 1996, said in a statement Tuesday he would now “deploy my efforts outside active politics” but gave no specific timeline for his departure.

The shuffle also sees Patricia Hajdu, the minister of status of women, promoted to the employment, workforce development and labour portfolio, replacing MaryAnn Mihychuk, who is dropped from cabinet but is staying on as MP for the Winnipeg riding of Kildonan—St. Paul.

Trudeau said Mihychuk “served the government with distinction” as she oversaw a “significant expansion of the Canada Summer Jobs program and settled the Canada Post labour dispute.”

Maryam Monsef, minister for democratic institutions, replaces Hajdu as minister of status of women. Karina Gould, currently parliamentary secretary for international development, is promoted in turn to the democratic institutions portfolio.

Trudeau announced Monday he plans to hold a cabinet retreat in Calgary on Jan. 23-24, where ministers are to discuss “how to continue creating good, middle-class jobs and delivering economic growth that is felt from coast to coast to coast.” –– AGCanada.com Network

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