TORONTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made a former astronaut his new foreign minister in a Cabinet reshuffle, sparked by the sudden resignation of high-profile Indian-origin Canadian Sikh minister Navdeep Bains.
“@NavdeepSBains announced that he is stepping down as Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to spend more time with his family. To fill the opening created by his announcement, we are making the following changes to the Canadian Ministry,” Prime Minister Trudeau announced on Twitter on Tuesday, giving the details of the reshuffle.
Earlier today, @NavdeepSBains announced that he is stepping down as Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to spend more time with his family. To fill the opening created by his announcement, we are making the following changes to the Canadian Ministry:— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 12, 2021
Bains, who played a key role in Trudeau’s leadership bid in 2013, issued a video statement on Tuesday wherein the 43-year-old minister said he was retiring from politics to spend more time with his family.
He is unlikely to run in the next election. However, Bains said that he will “play a part” in the next campaign.
Bains, who was one of the four Sikh cabinet ministers appointed by Trudeau in 2015, also served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in 2005. He was an MP between 2004 and 2011. Now, Trudeau’s Cabinet has only two Sikh ministers.
“Nav has served his communities and his country with all his heart and passion. I am sorry to see my good friend go but his humour and energy comes from his family and now they deserve his time,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who is another Sikh minister in Trudeau’s Cabinet.
Former astronaut Marc Garneau was moved from the transport ministry to the foreign ministry, while François-Philippe Champagne has replaced Bains as minister of innovation, science and industry.
“From his work as an astronaut to his time within government, Minister Garneau has always been a strong voice for Canada around the world,” Trudeau said. “From leading Canada’s efforts on the Safer Skies Initiative to his work on the Canada-US Relations Cabinet Committee, Marc will bring a great deal of experience to his new portfolio.” The 71-year-old minister became the first Canadian in space when he flew aboard the US space shuttle in 1984.
“Garneau will bring experience acquired during his close work with international partners on the investigation into the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 tragedy and as chair of the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations to his new portfolio, and will continue to be a leader on the world stage,” the prime minister said.
Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra was appointed as the transport minister.
“With an engineering background and a history of advocating for public transit in the GTA, I know Omar will do an outstanding job in this new role,” he said.
Trudeau last shuffled his Cabinet in August last year after then finance minister Bill Morneau stepped down from his position following a controversy.