A Conservative leadership candidate is claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau replaced two veteran Liberals in his cabinet because they weren’t “photogenic” enough.
Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost took to Facebook Tuesday to fundraise off of Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle, which saw Stephane Dion replaced as foreign affairs minister by Chrystia Freeland and John McCallum swapped out at immigration for Ahmed Hussen.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference on Parliament Hill with his newly sworn in ministers on Jan. 10. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
The shuffle was about replacing the “more experienced and less photogenic” duo of Dion and McCallum with “ministers who are less experienced, but who look better in… a selfie,” Trost charged.
Referring to the prime minister as “Justin,” Trost said the changes to the prime minister’s inner circle aren’t strong enough to respond to a new U.S. administration.
“In fact, today’s action was nothing more than Justin doing 'The Selfie Shuffle,'” he wrote.
Trost was also critical of Trudeau for keeping on Maryam Monsef, who was shuffled to the Status of Women portfolio from Democratic Institutions. Newcomer Karina Gould has taken up Monsef’s former portfolio.
Brad Trost, right, and Kellie Leitch participate in the Conservative leadership debate in Moncton, N.B. on Dec. 6, 2016. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Though Monsef was criticized for her handling of the electoral reform file last year, Trost’s criticism focused instead her citizenship controversy. Monsef revealed in September, after questioning from reporters, that she was born in Iran, not Afghanistan as she said she was led to believe her whole life.
Trost said the prime minister appointed Monsef to a more senior role after “failing to divulge problems with her immigration status.” Others have described Monsef’s move to Status of Women as a demotion.
Trost ended the post by asking supporters for a $25 donation and linking to the wrong website.
Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet for the first time today.
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The departure of Dion, a former Liberal leader and cabinet minister under previous Grit governments, was the most significant change Trudeau made Tuesday. While Dion has said he is retiring from active politics, he has reportedly been offered a diplomatic post abroad.
Freeland, who won acclaim last year negotiating the Canada-European Union trade deal as international trade minister, will now serve as Canada’s top diplomat. The Oxford-educated, former business journalist speaks five languages, has been a vocal critic of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and has connections in the United States from her years working in New York City.
Freeland, 48, also happens to be Canada’s third female foreign affairs minister and first Liberal woman to hold the position.
While her promotion evidently did not impress Trost, it seems his colleagues disagree.
Tory foreign affairs critic Peter Kent told The Canadian Press that Freeland was a smart pick.
"Chrystia has the smarts, she has the skills, she has the personality, she has the background to be a strong representative of principled Canadian foreign policy and I just hope that she doesn't fall into line with what we consider to be the prime minister's misguided foreign policy positions,'' Kent said.
Chrystia Freeland was the marquee move in Trudeau's nine-person, six-portfolio cabinet shuffle. (Photo: CP)
McCallum, meanwhile, will become Canada’s new ambassador to China. The longtime Liberal has been replaced by Ahmed Hussen, 40, who came to Canada as a teen refugee from Somalia. Hussen became a successful lawyer and president of the Canadian Somali Congress.
Trost’s dig about McCallum not being photogenic enough likely isn’t going to hurt his feelings. In June, McCallum made MPs erupt in laughter while responding to a charge from his critic that the government was just interested in photo-ops.
"Mr. Speaker, if the government wanted to send somebody somewhere for a photo-op, I suspect there are people in this aisle they'd probably send before they sent me," he said.
The shift to a younger cabinet this week was noticeable. Dion is 61 and McCallum is 66. Maryann Mihychuk, who was dropped as labour minister and removed from the cabinet entirely, is 61.
Gould, the new democratic institutions minister, is 29, making her the youngest woman appointed to cabinet.
The average age of Trudeau’s cabinet is now around 50, CBC News reports.
With files from The Canadian Press