Liberal cabinet shuffle leaves Canada’s North in the cold

The usual fanfare of Ottawa cabinet shuffles made its media rounds this week, with the big news being the departure of Stephane Dion.

The usual fanfare of Ottawa cabinet shuffles made its media rounds this week, with the big news being the departure of Stephane Dion.

The real story, however, should be the Trudeau government’s cold shoulder to the North. With the resignation of Hunter Tootoo last year, Trudeau had N.W.T. MP Michael McLeod, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, or Labrador MP Yvonne Jones to give some indication that the North actually matters to the Liberal government. With 13 years in federal politics including time as a parliamentary secretary, Bagnell seems to be an obvious choice. Instead, he languishes as the chair of procedure and house affairs. Not exactly a position of great influence for the Northern ridings and a clearly a statement by our Prime Minister that expertise from the North has little value.

In fact, not one MP in cabinet lives North of 60.

This shouldn’t come as any surprise really. Consider that 2016 marked the first year in over a decade that a prime minister has not come to the Yukon. There is no Northern Caucus to speak of, and our annual transfers are slipping away in favour of purchasing goodwill with the United Nations. If Northerners are starting to feel ignored, well guess what, you are, except for the gift of an increased cost of living in the form of the carbon cash grab. Trudeau is burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate jet-setting on vacations while racking up an impressive absentee record on his question period attendance roster. It should alarm all Canadians that our prime minister would prioritize vacations and cash for access party events before he has set foot in all jurisdictions of this nation first.

Mind you, cash for access events are small-time ventures in Canada’s North and Arctic, so a visit shouldn’t be expected anytime soon. It’s also very difficult to go shirtless in the winter, and the mosquitoes can be nasty in the summer. All disincentives to a Trudeau visit.

Fortunately, the Conservatives have a leadership race underway, where at least one candidate is already making the north a true priority. I’m looking forward to seeing where Maxime Bernier can take our country in 2019 with the North once again on the Canadian map.

Ryan Leef,

Co-chair for the North, Maxime Bernier Campaign

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