PBI-Canada takes note of federal cabinet appointments with portfolios relating to human rights and peace

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Mélanie Joly is now Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On October 26, a new Canadian cabinet was sworn into office following the September 20 federal election that saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau re-elected with a minority government (with 159 seats in the 338 seat House of Commons).

The full cabinet list can be seen here.

We note that:

1- Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs

This Minister is responsible for Canada’s relations with Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and other countries where human rights defenders are at risk. Voices at Risk: Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders falls under her responsibility.

2- Mary Ng remains Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development

This Minister is responsible for Export Development Canada (which provides more than $13 million a year in financial support to oil and gas companies) and the Canada Commercial Corporation (that signs export permits for Canada’s arms sales).

3- Marc Miller becomes Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

This Minister is responsible for relations with Indigenous nations in Canada, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and following the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

4- Anita Anand becomes Minister of National Defence

This Minister will oversee the planned increase in military spending from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27, which amounts to $553 billion on a cash basis over 20 years. She would also be involved in the deployment of Canada’s military forces.

5- Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Public Services and Procurement

This Minister will work with the Minister of Defence to manage the $19 billion purchase of new fighter jets (whose lifespan costs have been estimated to be $76.8 billion).

6- Steven Guilbeault becomes Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

This Minister is responsible for Canada meeting its carbon emission reduction targets and would additionally hold some responsibility for public statements in support of at-risk land and environmental rights defenders.

7- Marco Mendicino becomes Minister of Public Safety

This Minister is responsible for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The RCMP has been controversially deployed against Indigenous land defenders opposing the Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink pipelines as well as old growth logging.

8- Sean Fraser becomes Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

This Minister will be responsible for implementing Canada’s promise to accept 250 human rights defenders each year as refugees because they are at risk at heightened risk, this includes women, journalists and LGBTQ2 rights advocates.

In the coming days, the Mandate Letters that highlight the priorities for these Ministers will be released. It is also expected that the opposition parties will name their critics/shadow cabinet in the coming weeks.

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