Cabinet shuffle: what does this mean for pro-lifers?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


You may have heard on your Facebook and Twitter feeds that Prime Minster Justin Trudeau planned a cabinet shuffle scheduled for today. For all those wondering what exactly this means and how it affects the pro-life issue in Parliament, we’re here to help. Afterall, who better to explain the biggest news since Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes acceptance speech than our very own RightNow staff?

Before we talk shuffle, let’s talk Cabinet.

 What is the Cabinet? It’s much more than a place to store your perishables. The cabinet is a political term used to describe a group of MPs and Senators (usually about 30-40) appointed by the Prime Minister to head certain government departments, known as Ministers of the Crown (no affiliation to the Netflix series). As a group, the cabinet is the government and rules with the approval of the majority of MPs in the House of Commons. 

For example, MP Cathay Wagantall is called a backbencher because she does not currently hold a Cabinet position. MP John McCallum however, is part of the cabinet since he was appointed the Minister of Immigration. This means that on top of his role as an MP representing his constituents in the House of Commons, he also has additional responsibilities such as determining how many immigrants come into Canada and creating the criteria for allowing them to immigrate.



Once the Prime Minister has chosen who will be in the cabinet, each member is sworn into their cabinet position by the Governor General. Cabinet ministers must be sworn in and take an oath because not only do they wield a great deal of political power, they also deal with state secrets that are not revealed to the public due to national security. 


(hint, you can find out about all of this and much more on our handy-dandy, slick website)

Collectively the cabinet will meet often (usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis) and discuss how their government departments are doing. They are also responsible for answering questions directed at them in the House of Commons each day during Question Period by members of the Opposition. Think of the cabinet as the board of directors of a large corporation and the Prime Minister as the chair.


What is a cabinet shuffle?

A cabinet shuffle is the rearranging and replacing of cabinet ministers by the Prime Minster. Because cabinet ministers are there at the pleasure of the Prime Minister, he can do this anytime he feels the need. If they are not doing a proper job, they can be demoted to a cabinet position with less responsibilities or leave the cabinet entirely. Conversely, if they are doing a great job, they can be elevated to a cabinet position with greater responsibility and greater status within the government.

Why would Trudeau change the Cabinet now?


Political pundits across Canada have said that Prime Minister Trudeau shuffled the cabinet to choose a better qualified team to deal with President-elect Donald Trump and his government, as well as Canada’s dealings with China, one of our major trade partners. For example, John McCallum will leave his post as Minister of Immigration to become Ambassador to Beijing, making him the first high-level politician to the post which the Chinese have long wanted. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion will be replaced by Chrystia Freeland who some say “understands the language of Mr. Trump’s world” and is more of a “deal-maker” than Mr. Dion. Today’s cabinet shuffle wasn’t so much about Trudeau furthering his own agenda, but more about preparing for the changes that are about to come as a new President of the United States comes into power.


Does the Cabinet shuffle affect pro-life issues in Canada?

 Members of cabinet hold an immense amount of power. If the cabinet was constituted primarily of pro-lifers, especially in key positions such as the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Health, then we could expect more pro-life foreign policy decisions such as defunding abortion services overseas, more crisis pregnancy centers being given the attention and funding they deserve, and more pro-life legislation passed on a regular basis such as late-term abortion bans or fetal-pain laws.


With this new cabinet shuffle, when it comes to life issues, the cabinet is not changing in its pro-life makeup. All of the cabinet ministers being demoted/ousted from cabinet and all of those being promoted in cabinet have a 0% pro-life voting record on abortion, meaning that they have always voted against pro-life legislation regarding abortion.


In terms of euthanasia, the cabinet remains relatively the same, with those coming and going having a roughly 40% pro-life record on euthanasia legislation.


Since the Liberals have a majority government, and the majority of Liberals are not pro-life, this cabinet shuffle does not do much to affect our issues this time around.

Cabinet positions that affect life issues the most


The two cabinet positions that affect pro-life issues the most are the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Status of Women.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs often represents Canada to the world and is in charge of appointing ambassadors to other nations and international organizations, such as the United Nations, which dole out taxpayer funds through international aid programs. These funds can be either directed to provide abortions or they can be directed to fund actual life-giving healthcare to pregnant women in nations in need of aid.


The Minister of Status of Women oversees funding to various women’s groups across the country that help promote the well-being of women. Although these groups can oftentimes be abortion advocacy organizations, in the right hands, this position could give funding and recognition to crisis pregnancy centers and women’s homes across Canada that help pregnant women in need.

What can pro-lifers do?



The best way to respond to this latest cabinet shuffle to is to join RightNow to ensure that pro-lifers win nominations, elections, and leadership races. Having a pro-life Prime Minister appoint a pro-life cabinet from a pro-life caucus is the goal. That cannot happen if we don’t actually assist pro-lifers at the nomination and election stage. Join us today here to work toward a pro-life cabinet!


Results from today’s cabinet shuffle


Chrystia Freeland


First elected in a 2013 by-election, the former finance journalist has served    in the Trudeau cabinet as Minister of International Trade, being able to finalized the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), a trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. She is being promoted to replace Stephane Dion as Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Abortion rating: N/A

Euthanasia rating: 44%


Patty Hadju


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former homeless shelter co-ordinator has served in the Trudeau cabinet as Minister for the Status of Women. Being seen as competent in her position and active as a politician since the 2015 general election, she is being promoted to replace MaryAnn Mihychuk as Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 44%


Ahmed Hussen


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former human rights lawyer and President of the Canadian Somali Conference has served as a backbencher in the Trudeau government, serving neither as a Parliamentary Secretary or a Chair of any committee. He is being promoted to replace John McCallum as Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%


Francoise-Philippe Champagne


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former consultancy strategic director served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance in the Trudeau government. Seen as answering questions competently in the House of Commons, especially when compared to the Minister of Finance himself, he is being promoted to replace Chrystia Freeland as Minister of International Trade. 


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%


Karina Gould


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former investment and trade specialist served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development. She is being promoted to replace Maryam Monsef as Minister of Democratic Institutions.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%




MaryAnn Mihychuk


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former geologist/NDP provincial cabinet minister (in Manitoba) served as the Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour in the Trudeau cabinet. She been seen as fumbling the Phoenix pay system scandal and is being shuffled out of cabinet, entirely.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%


Maryam Monsef


First elected in the 2015 general election, the former teacher served as Minister of Democratic Institutions in the Trudeau cabinet. Seen as having a certain level of snark in the House of Commons and generally failing at the electoral reform file, she is being demoted to replace Patty Hadju as Minister of the Status of Women.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%




John McCallum


First elected in the 2000 federal election, the former chief economist for the Royal Bank of Canada served in the Chretien, Martin, and Trudeau cabinets. His performance has been fairly poor in the Trudeau cabinet, often delivering incoherent answers to basic questions. McCallum is being appointed as Ambassador to China. There will be a by-election in his federal riding of Markham-Thornhill.


Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%


Stephane Dion


First election in a 1996 by-election, the former political science professor served as a minister in the Chretien and Martin governments and was Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and the Leader of the Official Opposition from 2006-2009. Dion was known to have dropped the ball as Leader of the Opposition when trying to form a coalition government against Stephen Harper in early 2009. His term at Foreign Affairs in the Trudeau government has been of mixed reviews at best, and his performance in the House of Commons (particularly in English) has been very poor. Dion will now be the Ambassador to France, replacing former Harper cabinet Minister Lawrence Cannon. There will be a by-election in his federal riding of Saint-Laurent.

Abortion rating: 0%

Euthanasia rating: 40%

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