Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has scheduled an unexpected cabinet reshuffle following the sudden resignation of Indo-Canadian minister Navdeep Bains.
No reason has been attributed for the departure of the 43-year-old minister of innovation, science and industry. Bains is among the prominent Sikhs in Trudeau’s cabinet along with minister for national defence Harjit Sajjan.
While no official announcement has been made in this regard, the outlet CBC News reported that Bains has also decided against running in the next federal elections. He has been a cabinet minister since 2015 after being elected from the riding (constituency) of Mississauga-Malton.
Multiple Canadian media reports also said this will precipitate a larger reshuffle, with foreign minister François-Philippe Champagne being placed in charge of Bains’ portfolios while transport minister Marc Garneau will take over foreign affairs. Omar Alghabra, currently a parliamentary secretary, is expected to be promoted to the cabinet and given charge of the transport department. The change is expected to be formalised on Tuesday morning.
Bains’ exit could have a significant impact on the calculus for the next federal elections since he is credited with crafting the strategy for the Liberal Party in the 905 region, referring to the telephone area code for the seat-rich suburbs of Toronto, like Brampton and Mississauga.
Bains is a veteran within the Sikh community in Canadian electoral politics. He was also an MP between 2004 and 2011.
This is the second reshuffle that Trudeau has undertaken since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted last spring. He gave charge of the finance portfolio to deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland after the resignation of Bill Morneau last year.
The reshuffle is expected to be conducted virtually and comes just before a Cabinet retreat already announced by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Bains was famously among the four Sikh cabinet ministers appointed by Trudeau in 2015, along with Sajjan. Of the other two, Bardish Chagger remains as the minister for diversity, inclusion and youth, while the fourth, Amarjeet Sohi was defeated in the 2019 federal polls. When Bains is replaced, the cabinet will be left with two Sikh ministers – Sajjan and Chagger.