OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to name Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s new finance minister, CTV News has learned.
This comes after Bill Morneau announced late Monday that he was resigning from his key cabinet role and as an MP.
Freeland will become the first female finance minister, and will keep her role as deputy prime minister, though her intergovernmental affairs position could be re-assigned.
Quickly filling the vacancy comes as Morneau’s sudden resignation led to concerns about how the economy would react given the ongoing crisis caused by COVID-19.
Largely seen as a steady hand that Trudeau has more than once put into a tough role, Freeland will take on steering Canada through what’s ballooned to be a $343-billion deficit, expanded in large part to pay for a suite of emergency benefits, and to stave off further staggering job losses.
Morneau’s departure amid the ongoing WE Charity student grant controversy comes after he revealed he did not recuse himself from the cabinet table where the organization was awarded a deal to run a now-halted $912-million summer program, despite having close family ties to WE. As well, Morneau later revealed he had recently cut a cheque for $41,000 to cover expenses WE Charity paid for his family during 2017 trips to Kenya and Ecuador.
His resignation means there is also another Ontario riding that will soon be up for grabs, the second Liberal seat to soon be vacated at a time when Trudeau’s minority needs to hold on to as many votes as possible due to the persistent push for a snap election from some opposition parties.
While he insisted leaving was his decision, and not the result of Trudeau pushing him on account for the rumoured policy tensions between the two, Morneau said he is now eyeing the international role of secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with the prime minister’s backing.
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