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Small shuffle expected to move Philpott to key economic post at Treasury Board

Last Updated Jan 13, 2019 at 10:32 pm EDT

Jane Philpott, Minister of Indigenous Services, stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott will take on a key economic portfolio as president of the Treasury Board when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejigs his cabinet Monday morning.

The Canadian Press has confirmed that Philpott will take over the post occupied by longtime Liberal Scott Brison, who precipitated the shuffle last week with his unexpected resignation.

Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan is also on the move, possibly taking over Indigenous Services from Philpott. He has cancelled an event scheduled to take place Monday in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

CBC reported O’Regan’s move to Indigenous Services as a certainty Sunday.

A Nova Scotia backbencher — speculation Sunday centred on Sean Fraser or Bernadette Jordan — will also be added to the cabinet lineup to fill Brison’s role as that province’s cabinet representative. The newcomer could take over O’Regan’s file at Veterans Affairs.

The shuffle is expected to be small, with as few adjustments as possible to fill the void of Brison’s departure.

Senior sources said a rookie minister from Nova Scotia could not be elevated directly into Treasury Board, which despite its low public profile is considered a vitally important cabinet job.

It is the guardian of the public purse, overseeing how the government is managed, how it spends money and how it goes about regulating many aspects of Canadians’ lives. The president of the Treasury Board is also responsible for negotiating 27 collective agreements with 15 different bargaining agents.

Philpott, who was named to the newly created Indigenous Services post 18 months ago, is widely seen as one of Trudeau’s most competent ministers and something of a fixer who is dispatched to put out political fires.

As Trudeau’s original health minister, she is credited with helping the government navigate relatively unscathed through the rocky debate over legalizing medical assistance in dying. She was tapped by Trudeau in August 2017 to make concrete progress on improving the lot of Indigenous Peoples, one of the prime minister’s top priorities.

Philpott is currently vice-chair of the Treasury Board cabinet committee.

Sources say Trudeau wants to keep the shuffle small. He conducted a major shuffle just last July, which was intended to fix problem areas and put in place a cabinet ready for this fall’s election — a plan that was upended by Brison’s surprise decision to retire from politics.

Among those expected to stay put are Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.


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