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Dion's parting words: 'I wish Chrystia the best of luck'

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion’s chief of staff will pay back $32,130 and the chief of staff to Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains will reimburse taxpayers $22,467, the ministers’ offices said Friday.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail


> Justin Trudeau and his family were accompanied by some friends on the holiday visit to the Aga Khan, it turns out: Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan and his husband, and Liberal Party President Anna Gainey and her husband, Tom Pitfield, president of the Canada 2020 think-tank.

> Donald Trump's inauguration next week will put pressure on the federal and provincial governments to tone down their carbon-pricing plans.

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> And retiring senator James Cowan, the former leader of the Red Chamber's Liberals, says he's worried the Senate will turn into a passive "council of elders" after Mr. Trudeau's reforms.


Mr. Trudeau shuffled his cabinet yesterday in a ceremony at Rideau Hall that served two big purposes: first to get ready for President Trump (here's how they stack up to the new Republican cabinet), and second to refresh the team with demotions and promotions.

> On the way up: Chrystia Freeland moves from Trade to the broader role of Foreign Affairs Minister, while retaining leadership of the entire Canada-U.S. file (including trade) -- and sending a message to Russia about Canada's position. Three rookies were elevated to cabinet: Francois-Philippe Champagne as Trade Minister, Ahmed Hussen at Immigration and Karina Gould at Democratic Institutions.

> On the way out: Stephane Dion leaves his role as Foreign Affairs minister, and is mulling an offer to serve as an ambassador abroad; John McCallum accepted an offer to be Canada's ambassador to China; MaryAnn Mihychuk was dumped after alleged difficulties at the cabinet table.

> Shuffled about: Thunder Bay MP Patty Hajdu takes on a much bigger portfolio by moving from Status of Women to Labour, while Peterborough MP Maryam Monsef leaves her role leading the electoral-reform file to mind Status of Women.


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Mr. Dion has been a fixture of Parliament Hill for 20 years, from a defining fight for federalism to a tumultuous tenure as Liberal leader. He declined to speak publicly on Tuesday, and instead gave reporters this statement:

"For one year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave me the honour of being his Minister of Foreign Affairs. As is his privilege, he has just entrusted this great responsibility to another person. I wish Chrystia the best of luck.

"On January 25th 1996, I entered politics at the request of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. I was envisaging a brief parenthesis in my life. It has been, in fact, an incredible adventure. For this, I am indebted to the prime ministers and Liberal leaders who placed their confidence in me, to my colleagues in Parliament, to the public servants who supported me with competence and professionalism, to the members of the Liberal Party of Canada, to my political teams who, in Ottawa as in Saint-Laurent – Cartierville, placed their talents and their enthusiasm at my service. With all my heart, I thank the voters of Saint-Laurent – Cartierville who, a full eight times, placed their confidence in me and gave me the honour of representing them in the House of Commons.

"Of course, I could not have accomplished anything without all the sacrifices made by Janine and Jeanne. I thank them for all their love.

"Over the last twenty-one years, I have devoted myself to my riding, to my fellow citizens, to Quebec, to all of Canada, to the role that we must play in the world, and to the Liberal Party of Canada. Now, I shall deploy my efforts outside active politics. I have enjoyed political life, especially when I was able to make a difference to benefit my fellow citizens. I emerge full of energy...renewable! But politics is not the only way to serve one's country. Fortunately!"


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Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "The story of this shuffle is not just that Mr. Trudeau chose a new team to engage with Mr. Trump's America. His moves also made a major nod to a Plan B, and trade with another major partner, China."

Lawrence Martin (Globe and Mail): "The changes to the executive – which are numerous considering the government has only been in power for 15 months – come at a time when the Trudeau ship, despite enjoying high popularity, has been listing. A sense of direction had to be reasserted."

Paul Wells (Toronto Star): "That's one way to keep MPs on their toes. Justin Trudeau kicked three ministers out of his cabinet on Tuesday even though none had provoked the sort of scandal that normally merits such a sanction. And he promoted three rookies to serious jobs. That's both more carrot and more stick than most prime ministers have felt a need to wave this early in their terms."

Andrew Cohen (Globe and Mail): "The Prime Minister should not have hidden the invitation [from the Aga Khan]; rather, he should have celebrated it. He should have said that he was honoured to accept and that his visit was as much business as pleasure. He should not reimburse the government for the cost of his travel on a government jet – as he has promised – because conferring with a figure of the stature of the Aga Khan, however convivial the circumstances, is what a prime minister does."

Brittany Andrew-Amofah (CBC): "If we truly want to increase the representation of women in politics, a public discussion on the experiences of women of colour is necessary. Let 2017 be the year where intersectionality is at the forefront of Canadian political discourse; where comprehensive solutions are derived from hearing, interpreting and understanding a great number of diverse experiences."

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Written by Chris Hannay.

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