While Tuesday’s federal cabinet shuffle was an overall positive for Canada, the cards were stacked against Manitoba, Westman’s Conservative MPs reflected on Tuesday.
With Kildonan-St. Paul MP MaryAnn Mihychuk removed as federal employment minister, Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr has become the only Manitoban in cabinet by keeping his spot as natural resources minister in the Liberal government.
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa MP Robert Sopuck said that he liked Mihychuk and is disappointed to see her go — a sentiment Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire supports.
"This will result in Manitoba having a lesser voice on powerful cabinet committees and will make it more difficult to advance our province’s priorities within the executive," Maguire wrote in emailed correspondence.
While there were negatives in the shuffle, Sopuck also pointed to a positive in its clear focus on addressing Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 ascension to the role of President of the United States.
On that front, it’s refreshing to see Chrystia Freeland named Canada’s new foreign affairs minister, Sopuck said, noting that she has a lot of experience in the United States, having both lived there and commenting on public policy there.
"These ministers are going to have to come up against some very serious and no-nonsense secretaries that president-elect Trump has appointed," Sopuck said.
Freeland replaces Stéphane Dion, whom Maguire considers "a rather weak foreign affairs minister."
Brandon University political science associate Prof. Kelly Saunders said there were no real surprises in Tuesday’s cabinet shuffle, which she views as a positive means of addressing Trump’s presidency.
In particular, she cites John McCallum’s exit from politics to become Canada’s next ambassador to China as a positive.
Should Trump choose to act on the protectionist rhetoric he has shared in recent months, Canada will need to actively diversify its export markets, she said.
"It makes sense," she added. "We are a trading country. Canada depends on trade so it makes sense we’d look for trading partners elsewhere … It’s logical that we’d be looking to China, and that’s only going to be good news."
While the United States is Canada’s strongest trading partner, Sopuck noted that Canada — and Westman in particular — is heavily dependent on trade, and that "putting all our eggs in one basket makes us more vulnerable."
Regardless of Tuesday’s cabinet shuffle and its potential for positive impacts, both Sopuck and Maguire noted that the underlying goals and direction of the Trudeau government remain in play, which the Conservative MPs predictably do not support.
Still, Maguire affirmed that he’d continue to work with anyone he needs to in order to advance the interests of Westman.
"The cabinet must encourage job creation and press for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline," he noted. "They must tell us how they plan to defend NAFTA and protect the Westman jobs that depend on it."
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB