Freeland replaces Morneau as Trudeau’s finance minister

Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as Canada’s new finance minister today, becoming the first woman to take on the powerful role.

Up until today, Freeland, the former foreign affairs minister, was serving as deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister. She will retain her role as deputy prime minister but hands over her responsibilities for relations with the provinces to Dominic LeBlanc.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the adjustment to his cabinet today after Bill Morneau stepped down late Monday. 

The ceremony occurred at Rideau Hall this afternoon. Trudeau will make remarks later today. CBC News has special coverage on and CBC News Network.

Morneau resigned as finance minister and also as the MP for Toronto Centre on Monday, after meeting with Trudeau.

Morneau said he did not plan to run in more than two election cycles and that it is the best time to let a fresh minister steer Canada through its post-pandemic economic recovery.

Both Morneau and Trudeau are being investigated by Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion after the Liberal government gave WE Charity a $43.53-million contract to administer a $900-million student grant program despite both their families having close ties to the charity. 

Scandal ‘brought Mr. Morneau down,’ Poilievre says

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said playing “musical chairs” with the cabinet will not allow the Liberals to overcome the government’s failures.

There have been media reports that Morneau and Trudeau were at odds over policy options, but Poilievre rejected that claim as “fiction.”

“We all know it was scandal that brought Mr. Morneau down,” he said. “In fact, we now have a government of corruption, coverup and chaos at a time of a deadly pandemic and the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression.”

WATCH | Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre comments on Chrystia Freeland becoming finance minister:

Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre gives his assessment of Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s new finance minister. 0:36

Asked repeatedly if the Conservatives would try to trigger an election, Poilievre said his party would use its “strength in numbers” to uncover the truth and to hold the government to account.

“At some point in the future, that decision will have to be made,” he said.

Poilievre said Morneau is a “boy scout” compared to Trudeau’s ethics breaches, and said the prime minister should resign.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet has said he will try to trigger a fall election if the prime minister, his chief of staff and the finance minister didn’t resign.

Today, he accused Trudeau of throwing Morneau under the bus.

“[Trudeau] wants to be superman going into the phone booth to change his uniform, but there’s no real change in the prime minister’s behaviour,” he said.

WATCH / NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Morneau’s departure:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh reacts to the resignation of former Finance Minister Bill Morneau. 0:48

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh agreed that Morneau is a scapegoat and that his resignation does not change the channel on the ongoing controversies.

“This is a government that is working, that was fighting itself, that has been working for the betterment of their own, themselves as Liberals and their close friends, and that means Canadians are hurting and Canadians hurting is something that keeps me up at night,” he said. 

“Right now, we’ve got Canadians that are worried just in a couple weeks that they’re going to lose their CERB, and now they see the finance minister resigning and they see a Liberal government that’s more interested in themselves and scandals than actually helping the people that need help.”

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