Last week, Justin Trudeau named his new cabinet, which includes 36 MPs. Most of them are coming back for a second mandate, but there are new surprising faces at the table.
One of these new nominations, which created a political bombshell, was elected here in Montreal. His nomination might not be a surprise, but the department he was given probably was. The newly-elected MP of Laurier Ste-Marie, Steven Guilbeault, was sworn-in as Minister of Canadian Heritage, when he was expected to be handed the Environment department.
The reason why many were seeing him as the Environment Minister is that well-known, long-time activist Guilbault is the founder of Equiterre, and has been fighting for the environment for the last 25 years.
Trudeau’s decision led many, such as former Mayor of the Plateau Mont-Royal Luc Ferrandez, to claim Guilbeault’s popularity was used to win the election.
“We did not elect him to have this role. Trudeau even said we need to vote for Guilbeault if we believe in the environment’s protection. I was asked 10 times to fight Guilbeault in the Plateau, but I said no I will let him try, he wants to change things from the inside…I was really disappointed when I heard his new role,” said Luc Ferrandez, on 98.5 FM.
But was he used?
Last week, in an interview with Radio-Canada, Guilbeault said there was no promise made to him and he is happy about his new role.
Guilbeault also said that many people in his surrounding thought it was good for him to learn the role of being a politician, before jumping into the Environment Ministry.
Yet, in an interview with Le Devoir, Karel Mayrand from the David Suzuki Foundation said that Guilbeault was not named as the Environment Minister because he is an environmentalist, claiming it was a political move by Trudeau in order to please the people in the Western provinces.
It is fair to say that his nomination to another department other than Environment was a political decision. Even if Guilbeault has more expertise and knowledge pertinent to the Environment, putting him in the department ended up not being the first choice for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Graphic by Victoria Blair