#TrendingNews Blog Business Entertainment Environment Health Lifestyle News Analysis Opinion Science Sports Technology World News
The Power Players: The Most Influential Bureaucrats in the Liberal Establishment (Part I)

(Justin Trudeau, 2019 election win)

Trudeau and Singh: The Dual Protagonists

As of this week, Parliament is back in session with a full schedule of House Sittings for the next 5 weeks. These 5 weeks will host a number of tame and controversial bills the government is looking to pass, including the hotly debated Online Streaming Act, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, cost of relief measures including the “grocery rebate”, amendments to current firearms legislation, and the awaited legislation containing all of Budget 2023.

The Liberals will look to the NDP in making sure its legislative agenda will come to fruition. Fortunately, for the policies mentioned above, the NDP has publicly stated that they are willing to support the passage of all of those bills.

But Liberal and NDP collaboration goes further than just parliamentary support. The Liberal-NDP government’s supply and confidence agreement with the NDP is Canada’s recent attempt at parliamentary consistency and cooperation. The 44th parliamentary government session is not just the Liberals, the NDP is just as involved with passing legislation, providing feedback, and communication to Liberal legislators, whips and cabinet ministers.

Prior to the agreement, the NDP was given hardly any heads-up on legislation from the Liberals. Instead, the NDP was often expected to pass legislation based on ideological and policy commonality between the parties. Now, the role of the NDP is fundamentally different, they engage in constant internal communication and feedback with the Liberals and the NDP ensures that the Liberals don’t surprise them with any legislation they’re introducing.

At the heart of this agreement are a number of Liberal and NDP insiders that have worked behind the scenes to make sure the agreement sails smoothly. More than that, these insiders are at the heart of the government’s general operations. 

Many of these insiders are individuals the general public has no knowledge of, some are the branded face of the parties themselves, while others are powerful political members of those parties of who the public is seldom aware.

Meet the Head Players of the Liberal Establishment

This list is going to include people who are generally known by the public and hold significant power within Cabinet and Parliament’s ordeals. Each of these individuals has impressive credentials and a plethora of achievements under their belt which have earned their spot as heads of the Liberal establishment. All of these individuals are the face of the Liberal Party, they work in front of the public with their every move being watched and scrutinized. Nonetheless, some of these people are hardly known outside of political circles. 

The Second Prime Minister: Chrystia Freeland

Minster Freeland needs no introduction. She holds the position of both Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, she is literally and figuratively the government’s second in command and has spearheaded the country’s budgets since 2019 after Bill Morneau’s departure. Freeland’s influence in Canadian politics will far extend this government’s tenure. She was the centrepiece in implementing a number of policies such as national $10 childcare, a national dental care program, a $47 billion healthcare investment, a $56 billion tax incentive for the clean tech sector, the bank account freeze on convoy protesters, her NAFTA negotiation prowess, her diplomacy with the war effort in Ukraine, and her unprecedented fiscal response to the covid pandemic and recovery. 

Within the Liberal caucus, her words are as influential and powerful as the Prime Minister itself. Albeit Freeland is missing the power to appoint key government positions. Freeland and Trudeau are dual Prime Ministers. They’re both equally involved in ensuring the government’s smooth operations and both ensure consensus with one another before any major or minor decision is made. 

Moreover, Freeland’s general political ideology on taxing the wealthy, greater government involvement, expanding social programs, and ‘stakeholderism’ fit closer to Trudeau’s politics than former finance minister Morneau ever did. Knowing this, Freeland being finance minister strategically enables both politicians to implement their common vision for Canada as they see fit. 

The Negotiator: Dominic LeBlanc

Dominic LeBlanc is the hidden chalice of the Liberal Party. LeBlanc’s bold personality combined with his excellent communication skills makes him perfect for negotiating with the provinces. LeBlanc is people intelligent, he knows how to get the premiers to deal with the federal government without all the baggage the premiers like to throw on them. 

Recently, LeBlanc played a big part in getting the provinces on board for new agreements on improving healthcare. Reports from TheStar indicate that LeBlanc was in close talks with various premiers such as Premier Ford and Premier Houston prior to March’s first minister’s meeting regarding the healthcare funding, LeBlanc stipulated to the premiers that the federal government would not be able to provide the funding the provinces were demanding and instead would only provide a modest increase based on the federal government’s fiscal position. Following these discussions, Premier Ford and others made it public that they would fully cooperate with the federal government with any increase in healthcare spending. 

Eventually, reluctant provinces like Ontario and the prairies became the first provinces to sign on to the new healthcare deals. 

But more than that, LeBlanc’s literal position as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure, and Communities puts him at the forefront of communication between the federal and provincial governments. Outside of giving him ample experience, his position allows him to negotiate funding and provisional requirements for social and physical infrastructure projects. LeBlanc isn’t just in control of negotiation with different levels of government, LeBlanc has power over crown corporations like the Canada Infrastructure Bank which is tasked to fund infrastructure projects that support such as broadband connectivity, public transit, and large-scale projects that reduce Canada’s emissions.

Leblanc has been a part of a number of projects since Budget 2022:

“As of March 23, 2023, the Canada Infrastructure Bank has made investment commitments of $8.6 billion in 37 projects, in support of its mandate. Budget 2022 announced a deepened role for the Canada Infrastructure Bank to invest in private sector-led infrastructure projects that accelerate Canada's efforts to reach net-zero”

Furthermore, in Budget 2023, the CIB will be allocating more funds towards infrastructure projects but with a targetted focus on developing green power generation and infrastructure: 

“Budget 2023 announces that the Canada Infrastructure Bank will invest at least $10 billion through its Clean Power priority area, and at least $10 billion through its Green Infrastructure priority area.”

Suffice it to say that LeBlanc is a natural leader. Looking at any interview with LeBlanc gives a feeling of charisma, honesty, and responsibility. He sounds like a politician who knows what he’s talking about and gives an aura of authority while at the same time speaking from the heart. In my view, that is a rarity among politicians, and LeBlanc is a rarity that the Liberal establishment ought to keep safe. 

The Darkhorse: Francois Phillipe Champagne

The Minister of Industry, Francois Phillippe Champagne, is vital to the government’s efforts to lower emissions and attract private investment in clean tech. Champagne’s most significant accomplishment is the recent announcement of a Volkswagen battery gigafactory, the first of its kind in North America. Champagne is also tasked with using the government’s Net Zero Accelerator Initiative to reduce the country’s emissions by attracting large-scale private investments. 

Champagne is also working to bolster Canada’s minerals extraction industry to kickstart the country’s electric vehicle manufacturing capabilities. He’s working together with the Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkison, on developing a national Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy. Such a strategy would enable Canada to become a leader in battery manufacturing, recycling, and reusing so as to make the country into an EV and clean tech battery hub. 

Champagne has also developed the long-awaited beneficial ownership registry as a response to Canada’s growing money laundering problem. Such a policy should help identify illegal financial activity while at the same time helping to raise government revenues by identifying tax evaders. 

Minister Champagne is also working with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to implement a ‘right to repair’ law to extend the life of electronics and appliances by requiring manufacturers to supply repair manuals and spare parts. This policy is a direct match to American President Biden’s recent executive order on the ‘right to repair’, such measures were taken to increase competition among electronic manufacturers and provide consumers savings on exorbitant repair costs.

By playing his cards right, Champagne has quickly become an influential cabinet member who is paving the way for Canada’s net-zero economy. His business insights, communications skills, and policy priorities are a real strength to the Liberal establishment. And as a fully bilingual French Canadian, many pundits are even eyeing Champagne as the potential successor to Trudeau. 

The Health Economist; Improving Health, Getting Results: Jean Yves Duclos 

A Quebecois at heart, Jean Yves Duclos serves as the country’s Minister of Health since the 2021 cabinet reshuffling. Having achieved a doctorate in economics from the London School of Economics, Duclos has been a strong force in his position as Minister of Health. Being able to successfully negotiate healthcare deals with the provinces while at the same time introducing new initiatives such as funding for rare disease medications, a national dental care program, and clawing back healthcare funding from provinces that are violating the spirit of public healthcare. Compared to his predecessor Patty Hajdu, Duclos’ rhetoric and healthcare enforcement strategy have focused on pragmatism, cooperation, and procedural compliance against the provinces. 

With rare disease medication funding, dental care, and instilling punishment on provincial negligence in healthcare. Duclos’ is next eyeing to implement Canada’s first national prescription drug funding program (otherwise known as pharmacare). If Duclos can pull off a pharmacare program, then he’ll cement himself as one of the most influential and expansive Liberal health ministers in recent Canadian history. 

The Green Dream Team: Steven Guilbeault and Jonathan Wilkinson 

Leading the charge on the government’s efforts to reduce emissions and transition the economy to a greener future are Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson. Both have been on the front of fighting climate change for years inside and outside government. 

Guilbeault is a controversial figure who has been labelled an eco-terrorist and radical environmentalist by his biggest adversaries, from the oil and gas sector to provincial pundits in the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1993, Guilbeault cofounded Quebec’s largest environmental organization Equiterre and later worked as a Director and Campaign Manager for Greenpeace. He’s also served in a myriad of other roles in the environmental sector and has worked for consulting firms as well. Although a bold figure in the past, Guilbeault has redefined his personality with pragmatism and cooperation while maintaining his fever for radical change in climate policy.

Where Guilbeault brings the fire, Wilkison brings a block of calming ice with his decades of experience in companies dedicated to developing green technologies and experience in senior leadership positions at various green technology companies. He also has direct political experience working as a constitutional negotiator and a federal-provincial negotiation specialist for former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow.

Both of these characters bring passion and experience to addressing the climate crisis. But more than that, their policies on developing the various green tax credits in Budget 2023, the national carbon pricing scheme, efforts on conserving sensitive oceans and lands, and introducing a cap on the oil and gas sector’s emission by the end of 2023 have proven their commitment for progressing on climate policy. 

And although both of these characters have much to do to gain more trust from the electorate in climate policy, they are nonetheless doing what they can on building the foundation for Canada’s largest response to the climate crisis yet. For the Liberals, keeping these two passionate and experienced ministers on their side is vital for responding to Canada’s climate crisis. 

Honourable Mentions 

These high-profile ministers are only some that I believe have the most influence on the Liberal Party’s current affairs. Some of these players may fall off, while others may shine even more. But certainly, all of them have significant leeway over the Prime Minister’s Office and the party’s future. However, that isn’t to say that other cabinet ministers don’t also have significant influence over the party’s operations. 

Anita Anand as Minister of Defence will very much define Canada’s faltering military, her record on ensuring vaccine procurement made her profile look attractive as a woman who can get the job done in a procedural and effective manner. Whether she can bring Canada’s military out of the woods in its recruitment crisis and negative publicity (after numerous scandals) is to be examined in future. 

Karina Gould is the Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development; she has driven the national rhetoric and implementation of the $10 national daycare program and has solved heavily scrutinized issues like passport application backlogs. Up next, Minister Gould will be looking to implement a nationally-funded school lunch program. Such programs are going to cement her as a respectable minister that supported progressive policy and leadership. 

There are others who are relatively influential as well within Cabinet, but mentioning them would defeat the purpose of exploring which ministers are the cream at the top. They all play their roles, but some are more important than others. Click here to see the entire list of Canada’s cabinet.

Part II of Power Players

Part II of this series will reveal some behind-the-scenes characters within the Liberal establishment. These characters have a fundamentally different role than the ministers above, they are rarely seen in public but nonetheless hold significant experience and influence over the party’s head executive and cabinet ministers. All of these hidden characters actually have more insider party experience than any of the ministers hold. Click here to learn who they are.

Share This Post On


Leave a comment

You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in