Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has left his special representative for the Prairies out of cabinet, appearing to signal a departure from trying to quiet tensions in the West.
Manitoba Liberal Jim Carr was appointed to the post following the 2019 federal election where the Grits saw themselves shut out of Alberta and Saskatchewan, evening losing longtime Regina cabinet minister Ralph Goodale.
Carr, who was diagnosed with blood cancer around that time, was appointed to be Trudeau’s special representative for the region when bridging divides was top of mind for the prime minister.
The Liberals have lost representation in the Prairies since forming government in 2015, but Trudeau is perhaps feeling more optimistic after the Sept. 20 election, which saw Liberal Randy Boissonnault defeat Conservative incumbent James Cumming in Edmonton Centre.
Boissonnault was tapped to become Minister of Tourism while Manitoba MP and Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal assumes responsibility for economic development in the Prairies.
Another move that may raise eyebrows in the West is the appointment of Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault to lead Environment and Climate Change.
Guilbeault was an anti-pipeline activist who founded an environmental advocacy group in the province and also worked for Greenpeace before running for the Liberals.
His name was mentioned several times in Alberta’s recently released report from a public inquiry into so-called “anti-Alberta energy campaigns,” which Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party government said tried to harm the province’s prosperity.
Guilbeault takes over as environment minister at a time when many supporters of the oil and gas industry want to see more enthusiasm for it from Ottawa, not less, and are concerned about what a transition away from fossil fuel consumption means for the economy and jobs.
In taking on his new role, Guilbeault replaces Jonathan Wilkinson, a North Vancouver MP who hails from Saskatchewan and at one point worked for an NDP government in the province.
Wilkinson takes over natural resources from Seamus O’Regan, who like Wilkinson was appointed to the role in 2019 and touted how he also was from an oil and gas producing province, given the industry in Newfoundland.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press