Bennett out, Miller in on Crown-Indigenous Relations portfolio as Trudeau announces new cabinet

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Marc Miller after he was sworn in as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations during a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall, Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet on Tuesday, with most key northern-related portfolios all fronted by new faces.

“Canadians need a strong and diverse Cabinet to deliver on their priorities and keep Canada moving forward for everyone,” Trudeau said in a news release. 

“This team will finish the fight against COVID‑19, deliver on $10-a-day child care, help Canadians find a home of their own, tackle the climate crisis, and continue to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Together, we will work tirelessly to build a better future for all Canadians.”

Long-time Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was moved over to the newly-created Mental Health and Addictions portfolio as well as being named associate Minister of Health.

Taking her place in Crown-Indigenous Relations is Marc Miller, the former minister of Indigenous Services.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett during a Cabinet swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Until Tuesday, Bennett had been responsible for Indigenous affairs files since the Trudeau government was first elected in 2015.

Long tenure on Indigenous affairs

Bennett started out as minister of what was then called Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

In 2017, Trudeau split INAC into two different departments, saying at the time that “…There’s a sense that we have pushed the creaky old structures around INAC about as far as they can go.” 

(The decision to split INAC into two departments was inspired by recommendations made in the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, an inquiry prompted after the Meech Lake Accord defeat and the Oka crisis prompted Canada to reexamine its relationship with Indigenous people.)

Two departments were created in INAC’s place.

New Canadian Cabinet
Members of cabinet applaud as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon approach for a family photo following a swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall, Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
  • Chrystia Freeland remains Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
  • Omar Alghabra remains Minister of Transport
  • Anita Anand becomes Minister of National Defence
  • Carolyn Bennett becomes Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau remains Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Bill Blair becomes President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
  • Randy Boissonnault becomes Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
  • François-Philippe Champagne remains Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
  • Jean-Yves Duclos becomes Minister of Health
  • Mona Fortier becomes President of the Treasury Board
  • Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Karina Gould becomes Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Patty Hajdu becomes Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario
  • Mark Holland becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Ahmed Hussen becomes Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion
  • Gudie Hutchings becomes Minister of Rural Economic Development
  • Marci Ien becomes Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
  • Helena Jaczek becomes Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
Patty Hajdu arrives for the cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct.26, 2021. Hajdu, the former minister of Health, is the new Minister of Indigenous Services and the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario.(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
  • Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Kamal Khera becomes Minister of Seniors
  • David Lametti remains Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  • Dominic LeBlanc becomes Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
  • Diane Lebouthillier remains Minister of National Revenue
  • Lawrence MacAulay remains Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Marco E. L. Mendicino becomes Minister of Public Safety
  • Marc Miller becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  • Joyce Murray becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • Mary Ng becomes Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
  • Seamus O’Regan Jr. becomes Minister of Labour
  • Ginette Petitpas Taylor becomes Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
  • Carla Qualtrough remains Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
  • Pablo Rodriguez becomes Minister of Canadian Heritage and remains Quebec Lieutenant
  • Harjit S. Sajjan becomes Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
  • Pascale St-Onge becomes Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
  • Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • Dan Vandal becomes Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada, and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
  • Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Natural Resources

The Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs department was created to improve government coordination on nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships as well as to accelerate self-government and self-determination agreements with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. 

The second department, Indigenous Services,  was created to focus on delivering services to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.

Bennett’s long tenure had some bumps including the lack of an Inuk commissioner on National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and delays on the (MMIWG) action plan.

Earlier this year, she came under fire for a private text message sent to former Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould that Wilson-Raybould characterized as racist. Many Indigenous leaders called for Bennett to resign, but Trudeau said although he was “deeply disappointed” in Bennett, he would keep her on the portfolio. 

Northern Affairs, Indigenous Services, Environment and Climate Change

Patty Hajdu, the former minister of Health, is the new Minister of Indigenous Services and the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario.

Steven Guilbeault is the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

 Guilbeault was previously in cabinet as the Minister of Canadian Heritage. 

Dan Vandal will stay on as Minister of Northern Affairs as well as becoming Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca 

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: New government in Nunavut, Canada sees even split of newcomers and returning MLAs, CBC News

Greenland: Greenland, Denmark and the Faroe Islands sign terms of reference for committee on foreign affairs and defence, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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