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Quebec to be well represented in Trudeau cabinet

Rookie MP Mélanie Joly, who was runner-up in the 2013 Montreal mayor’s race, is among the main contenders for a cabinet position.

TOMA ICZKOVITS/Newzulu

The Trudeau government is expected to feature half-a-dozen ministers from Quebec, a marked increase from the outgoing Conservative government and a sign of the province's renewed clout in Ottawa.

Quebeckers sent most of their MPs to the government benches for the first time in more than two decades on Oct. 19, having previously voted for a majority of Bloc Québécois or NDP MPs in every general election since 1993.

The pressure will now be on the new Quebec team to showcase the effectiveness of strong representation inside of the government, instead of a strong voice on the opposition benches.

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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is expected to appoint six ministers from Quebec at Wednesday's swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall, party sources said. Overall, the Liberal cabinet is expected to be made up of 28 to 30 ministers.

By contrast, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper featured three ministers and one junior minister from Quebec, out of a total of 40 members of cabinet.

Mr. Harper could choose from only five MPs, whereas Mr. Trudeau heads a team of 40 Quebec MPs (including himself) after a late surge over the NDP in the province. The Liberal Leader and his contingent made a clear pitch to the province to be part of a progressive government during the election, in which the Liberals outpaced the NDP as the prime alternative to the Conservatives.

The main contenders for a cabinet position in Quebec are former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, former leadership candidate and astronaut Marc Garneau and rookie MP Mélanie Joly, who was the runner-up in the 2013 mayoral race in Montreal.

All new ministers will arrive at Rideau Hall on Wednesday on foot as a group, to emphasize the team spirit that Mr. Trudeau wants to instill in his cabinet.

Sources said Mr. Trudeau will honour his pledge to name the same number of male and female ministers, and will appoint at least one minister from every province, as well as someone from the North. Given the lack of female Liberal MPs in PEI, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the three territories, the issue of parity will force Mr. Trudeau to pick a number of female ministers in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.

The Liberal Leader will have a busy international travel schedule in coming weeks. In a statement, the party said Mr. Trudeau will attend the G20 summit in Turkey and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in the Philippines in mid-November. In late November and early December, he will attend the Commonwealth summit in Malta, followed by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

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"Canada must be fully and firmly committed on the international stage, not only for our own success, but also for the success of others around the world," the prime-minister-designate said. "Being engaged internationally is critical for creating economic growth, good-paying jobs for the middle class, and broad-based prosperity for all Canadians."

The new cabinet will have a busy schedule on the domestic front, as well. The first orders of business will include finding a way to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year, and moving quickly to implement a Supreme Court ruling on doctor-assisted death.

Mr. Trudeau's transition team grilled would-be ministers on their personal and financial backgrounds last week. However, more people were interviewed than Mr. Trudeau ended up picking for cabinet positions, leaving high-profile Liberals getting a bad-news phone call from their leader, sources said.

The transition team has also received classified briefings from federal bureaucrats on everything from national security to the government's fiscal situation. In addition, the bureaucracy has studied the Liberal electoral platform and its various campaign pledges, offering Mr. Trudeau a series of options to implement his promises.

The transition team is headed by former deputy minister Peter Harder and includes Mr. Trudeau's top two advisers, Katie Telford and Gerald Butts. Mr. Trudeau called upon Marc-André Blanchard, the chief executive officer of the law firm McCarthy Tétrault, to interview his potential cabinet nominees.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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