On a tumultuous day on parliament hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first acknowledged Bill Morneau’s resignation and thanked him for his service as finance minister and MP. He went on to formally announce Chrystia Freeland as finance minister and Dominic LeBlanc as minister of intergovernmental affairs.
“Right now the world is at a crossroads, Canada is at a crossroads,” said Trudeau. “As economies relaunch, we’re seeing COVID-19 reappear in places like Australia and New Zealand.”
Trudeau also pointed to the rising COVID-19 rates in provinces that had been experiencing falling numbers, like British Columbia.
Trudeau announced that in the coming weeks his government would release a plan to rebuild the economy with a throne speech on September 23 followed by a confidence vote on the new plan. Trudeau said he has already asked the governor general to prorogue parliament. This would halt a number of ethics investigations into the WE charity scandal currently being conducted by parliament. Trudeau defended the investigation stoppage saying that documents have already been handed to committees and that they can continue to be reviewed when the government restarts in September.
Trudeau said that the prorogation would not affect the government’s wage subsidy program or CERB emergency benefit program.
The newly named finance minister began her remarks by thanking Morneau and highlighting some of the work they had done. Freeland said that she wouldn’t outlay her entire economic agenda but that a green, equitable recovery would be her priority. She also said that she would focus on jobs and growth. Freeland also highlighted the pride she felt in the “feminist agenda” that underlines her government’s policies.
“I am conscious that I am Canada’s first woman finance minister, and it’s about time we broke that glass ceiling,” said Freeland. “I’d like to say to all the Canadian women across our amazing country who are out there breaking glass ceilings, keep going, we are right there with you.”
In reference to Freeland’s book Plutocrats, Trudeau was asked whether his government would work to reduce income inequality through taxation under her leadership. Trudeau did not commit to new taxes and said taxes would not increase but he referenced previous measures his government implimented to raise taxes on high-end earners.
In response to questions from reporters, Trudeau wouldn’t say whether he asked Bill Morneau to stay once the former finance minister tendered his resignation. When asked who pushed for Morneau’s resignation Trudeau said that they had come to a mutual agreement. Trudeau also said that he would definitely be on the ballot in the next election and that he did not want an early election. When asked if he hoped his confidence motion would fail Trudeau responded “of course not.”
“We do not want an election, but it is obvious that the throne speech we gave eight months ago is no longer relevant for the reality that Canadians are living and that our government is facing,” said Trudeau. “There are many things that we committed to Canadians in that throne speech that we will continue but there are many others that aren’t the priority they once were.”
Trudeau said that he needed a mandate from parliament in order to move forward on implementing his plan and that parliament needed the opportunity to debate it.