Justin Trudeau’s New Liberal Cabinet Appointments: Key Ministers with Innovation-Related Portfolios

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Innovation-Related Portfolios
New Liberal Innovation-Related Portfolios

On November 4, 2015, Justin Trudeau was sworn in as the 23rd Canadian Prime Minister, and unveiled his new Liberal cabinet appointments. The cabinet is comprised of thirty Liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) — not including Trudeau himself — and notably contains fifteen male and fifteen female ministers1.

To help better understand how these new cabinet appointments will impact the future of the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program, we have highlighted four key ministers who will likely shape SR&ED in the coming weeks and months:

  • Navdeep Bains – Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development 
  • Catherine McKenna – Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Kirsty Duncan – Minister of Science**
  • Bardish Chagger – Minister of Small Business and Tourism**

iPolitics.ca reports that Kirsty Duncan and Bardish Chagger were actually appointed as ministers of state (a junior cabinet position to assist a more senior minister on a specific portfolio) rather than as full-fledged ministers. However, an official within the Liberal Party claims that the party does consider ministers of state to be full-fledged ministers and that the distinction “has to do with technicalities around the bureaucracy and legalese and things like that”.2

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

This ministerial portfolio, appointed to Navdeep Bains (Mississauga—Malton, ON), did not previously exist within Stephen Harper’s Conservative government. There were ministers of economic development for regions of Quebec and Northern Canada, but no dedicated ministers for innovation or science.3

From Mr. Bains’ MP site (emphasis added):

  • Having served as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Brampton South [sic] from 2004 to 2011, Navdeep gained extensive experience as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and as the Liberal Critic for Public Works and Government Services, the Treasury Board, International Trade, Natural Resources, and Small Business and Tourism.
  • Navdeep Bains is presently a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University – Ted Rogers School of Management and holds an MBA with a specialization in Finance. As a Certified Management Accountant, he has worked several years in accounting and financial analysis for the Ford Motor Company of Canada.4

Ministerial responsibilities include: Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).5

Minister of Environment and Climate Change

The ministerial portfolio, appointed to Catherine McKenna (Ottawa Centre, ON), has been expanded on from its previous title in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet. As noted by the CBC, “[c]limate change did not rate a mention in Harper’s cabinet, nor in departmental names under his ministry6

From Ms. McKenna’s MP site (emphasis added):

  • Catherine is an active member of the community in Ottawa Centre, an experienced competition and international trade lawyer and a social entrepreneur who creates practical solutions to social justice problems. A former legal advisor and negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor, she later co-founded Level (previously known as Canadian Lawyers Abroad).
  • Until recently, Catherine was Executive Director of Level, a charitable organization based at the University of Ottawa that she co-founded nearly 10 years ago. Its mission is to improve the lives of people in the developing world and Canada through projects focused on good governance, the rule of law and human rights. Catherine developed Level’s innovative Dare to Dream program which mentors and inspires Aboriginal students through justice education and outreach activities by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal lawyers. The program had a very successful pilot in Toronto and has now expanded to Calgary and Ottawa.
  • She completed her Bachelor’s degree in French and international relations at the University of Toronto, earned a graduate degree in international relations at the London School of Economics, and a law degree from McGill. She is called to the Bars of Ontario and New York.7

Ministerial responsibilities include: Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Parks Canada Agency.5

Minister of Science

This ministerial portfolio was appointed to Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, ON). 

From Ms. Duncan’s MP site (emphasis added):

  • Kirsty Duncan is a Canadian medical geographer and current MP for the Liberal Party of Canada in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke North.
  • After graduating from Kipling Collegiate Institute in 1985 as an Ontario Scholar, Duncan studied Geography and Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She then entered graduate school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and completed a Ph.D. in geography in 1992
  • From 1993 to 2000, Duncan taught meteorology, climatology, and climate change at the University of Windsor.
  • In 2003, Duncan wrote a book about her expedition, entitled Hunting the 1918 Flu: One Scientist’s Search for a Killer Virus.
  • Duncan was an adjunct professor teaching both medical geography at the University of Toronto and global environmental processes at Royal Roads University, and served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organization that won the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore.9

The roles and responsibilities for Minister of Science is not listed on the Parliament of Canada website at the date of publication.

Minister of Small Business and Tourism

This ministerial portfolio was appointed to Bardish Chagger (Kitchener—Waterloo, ON).

From Ms. Chagger’s MP site (emphasis added):

  • Bardish Chagger has lived in Waterloo all her life. In 2004, she graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Science degree. Bardish is the recipient of the Waterloo Region Record “40 under 40” award.
  • Bardish Chagger worked at the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, an organization that assists new Canadians as they transition to full participation in our community’s life. As the Special Projects Coordinator, Bardish planned and coordinated the annual Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Festival in Victoria Park, bringing together community, cultural and business groups in Waterloo Region. She also worked with other agencies to offer an annual Global Skills Conference to introduce foreign-trained professionals to related professions and to find meaningful employment.
  • She helped constituents obtain visas and passports and solve their problems with employment insurance, pensions, income tax, immigration and other issues with the federal government.10

The roles and responsibilities for Minister of Small Business and Tourism are not listed on the Parliament of Canada website at the date of publication.

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Show 10 footnotes

  1. (2015, November 5). Full list of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. CBC News. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/full-list-of-justin-trudeau-s-cabinet-1.3300699
  2. (2015, November 5). One-third of women in Trudeau’s cabinet are actually ministers of state. iPolitics. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://ipolitics.ca/2015/11/05/one-third-of-women-in-trudeaus-cabinet-are-actually-ministers-of-state/
  3. (2015, November 5). 28th Canadian Ministry. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/28th_Canadian_Ministry
  4. (2015). Meet Navdeep Bains. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://navdeepbains.liberal.ca/biography/
  5. Library of Parliament. (2015, November 4). The Ministry and its Responsibilities. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/compilations/federalgovernment/MinisterialResponsabilities.aspx
  6. Dyer, Evan. (2015, November 5). Liberal name changes for ministries signal a shift in focus. CBC News. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/liberals-cabinet-names-1.3304561
  7. (2015). Catherine McKenna. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from https://catherinemckenna.liberal.ca/biography/
  8. Library of Parliament. (2015, November 4). The Ministry and its Responsibilities. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/compilations/federalgovernment/MinisterialResponsabilities.aspx
  9. (2015). Biography. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from https://kirstyduncan.liberal.ca/biography/
  10. (2015). Meet Bardish Chagger. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from https://bardishchagger.liberal.ca/biography/

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