Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Cottage on January 5. (Reuters file)
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a news conference at Rideau Cottage on January 5. (Reuters file)

Trudeau reshuffles cabinet after Indian-origin minister quits

Navdeep Bains, who resigned as minister of innovation, science and industry, said he was retiring from politics to spend more time with his family.
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya , edited by Vinod JanardhananAnirudh Bhattacharyya , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2021 08:51 PM IST

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday conducted an unexpected cabinet reshuffle following the sudden resignation of Indo-Canadian minister Navdeep Bains.

In a video statement released on Tuesday, the 43-year-old minister of innovation, science and industry said he was retiring from politics to spend more time with his family. Bains was among the prominent Sikhs in Trudeau’s cabinet along with minister for national defence Harjit Sajjan.

Bains has also decided against running in the next federal elections. Bains has been a cabinet minister since 2015 after he was elected from the riding (constituency) of Mississauga-Malton.

Bains’s resignation precipitated a larger reshuffle in what was the first-ever virtual swearing-in ceremony for ministers in the history of Canada. Foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne was placed in charge of Bains’s portfolios as minister for innovation, science and industry while transport minister Marc Garneau assumed charge of foreign affairs. Omar Alghabra was promoted from parliamentary secretary to the cabinet and given charge of the transport department. Jim Carr was sworn in as a minister without portfolio and will be the government’s special representative for the Prairies.

In his statement, Bains said, “It’s time for me to put my family first and I couldn’t be happier about it.” He said the last year had been hard on his two young daughters and it was time “to focus on the most important job I have in life — being a dad.”

Bains’s exit could have a significant impact on the calculus for the next federal elections since he is credited with crafting the strategy for the Liberal Party in the 905 region, referring to the telephone area code for the seat-rich suburbs of Toronto like Brampton and Mississauga.

Bains is a veteran within the Sikh community in Canadian electoral politics. He was also an MP between 2004 and 2011.

This is the second reshuffle that Trudeau has undertaken since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last spring. He gave charge of the finance portfolio to deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland after the resignation of Bill Morneau last year.

The reshuffle came just before a cabinet retreat already announced by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bains was famously among the four Sikh cabinet ministers appointed by Trudeau in 2015, along with Sajjan. Of the other two, Bardish Chagger remains as the minister for diversity, inclusion and youth, while the fourth, Amarjeet Sohi, was defeated in the 2019 federal polls. Now the cabinet is left with two Sikh ministers – Sajjan and Chagger.

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