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Filomena Tassi, Helena Jaczek swap federal cabinet roles in minor shuffle

Trudeau makes shift to lessen travel demands on Tassi, says no further moves coming
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, speaks at a party fundraising event in Mississauga, Ontario on Tuesday, August 30, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

There is no need to make bigger changes in his cabinet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday after he made a minor adjustment to his front bench, involving only two ministers.

The Liberals have been struggling since the last election to manage a number of post-pandemic problems including the effect of inflation and service delays related to the resurrection of the travel industry, which had come to a nearly complete halt during COVID-19.

Those prompted opposition parties to demand some ministers resign or be replaced.

Trudeau made it clear he has no such plans.

“It’s been less than a year since the last election and our government is working extremely hard every day to support Canadians and to deliver the support necessary,” he said at a news conference outside Rideau Hall.

He would not have made any changes to cabinet at all were it not for a request from Ontario MP Filomena Tassi to lessen her travel requirements so she could help care for her husband, who is recovering from two strokes.

Tassi has been in cabinet since 2018. Last year, she was named the minister of public services and procurement. On Wednesday morning, she swapped duties with fellow Ontario MP Helena Jaczek, who was the minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

“As anyone whose family has had a similar experience will know, post-stroke care can be complex and filled with uncertainty,” Tassi said in a written statement issued at the time of the swearing-in ceremony.

“Because of this, I met with the prime minister last month to discuss balancing the needs of my family with the travel demands on me as minister of public services and procurement.”

Tassi thanked Trudeau for helping her solve the issue without requiring her to make a choice between her family or her job in public service. The two shared a warm embrace after Tassi took her new oath of office in a brief ceremony at Rideau Hall.

Tassi has represented the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas since 2015 and was the minister for seniors and the minister of labour before moving to procurement after the 2021 election.

Jaczek, for whom the shuffle is a major promotion, was first elected in the Greater Toronto Area riding of Markham-Stouffville in 2019, defeating former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott.

Philpott resigned from cabinet as part of the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair in 2019 and ran in that year’s election as an Independent candidate.

Jaczek was appointed to cabinet in 2021.

In addition to her work in southern Ontario, Jaczek brings experience in the health sector and as a former Ontario minister of health and long-term care, said a statement from Trudeau’s office.

The adjustment comes one week before a cabinet retreat in Vancouver, which will serve as the government’s tune-up before the House of Commons resumes sitting at the end of September.

The Liberals will also face a retooled official Opposition this fall, helmed by whomever the Conservatives elect as their new leader on Sept. 10.

—Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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