With a new cabinet to be sworn in sometime this month and the Conservatives set to hold their first meeting as a caucus soon, political actors across the country are weighing their post-election priorities.

Cabinet speculation is running strong, as the Liberals will need to shuffle, add or remove portfolios to accommodate the loss of four female ministers and an influx of new talent.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly committed to forming a cabinet that is balanced by gender and reflects Canada’s regions.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live Sunday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he expected a cabinet to be formed in “the coming few weeks.”

Trudeau has already said Chrystia Freeland will remain on as deputy prime minister and finance minister, but LeBlanc said he did not know if he would retain his own role.

WATCH | Trudeau lays out priorities for pandemic, addresses new cabinet:

Trudeau addresses vaccine mandates, new cabinetIn his first news conference since being re-elected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held firm on his promise to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for air and rail travel as well as the federal public service when Parliament resumes later this fall. 1:54

The prime minister spoke this week in his first news conference since the election and laid out his top priorities for the coming months, beginning with ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

He laid out five priorities that would help achieve that goal, which included a vaccine mandate for federal workers and many travellers, and $1 billion for provinces to help implement vaccine passport programs.

Government priority on the pandemic

LeBlanc said Sunday the government was working on a federal certification program that could help Canadians travel abroad as restrictions ease, as well as for domestic travel.

“We’re confident that over the coming weeks there will be much more clarity and much more accessibility in terms of a vaccine credential that Canadians understandably want to have,” he told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.

LeBlanc said he believed conversation with premiers on subjects like vaccine certification would occur soon after a cabinet is formed.

B.C. Premier John Horgan shows his provincial COVID-19 vaccine card as he arrives for a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation announcement with the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Sept. 16. Horgan is the current chair of the Council of the Federation. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

In an interview earlier Sunday, B.C. Premier John Horgan told Barton that he and other premiers were prioritizing a conversation around increasing health transfers from the federal government to provinces.

Trudeau and Freeland “made a commitment to us that we would have that conversation and we expect that to happen in this calendar year, and we’re very much looking forward to the dialogue,” Horgan said.

Saying Horgan was a “constructive and thoughtful leader” at the first ministers’ table, LeBlanc noted the government’s priority was bringing the pandemic to an end and then they would be open to a conversation around transfer payments.

That conversation would also include discussion about “what are the right mechanisms of accountability and transparency for provinces that claim they want billions of additional dollars from the government of Canada,” he said.

Conservatives ‘on the right track’: Chong

Soon to be sitting once more across the aisle in the opposition seats, the Conservatives are set to meet formally for the first time as a caucus this week.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live Sunday, Conservative MP Michael Chong said the priority for the party should be a “frank discussion about what went right and what went wrong” in the election last month.

Chong said he believed from a preliminary look at the data that the party was “on the right track” when it came to building support in Ontario and Quebec, but had just barely lost out on a series of key ridings.

“I think Erin O’Toole needs some more time to put the party on the right track so we can win at the next election,” Chong said.

WATCH | Conservative MP Michael Chong on Conservatives’ priorities:

Conservatives to hold first post-election caucus meetingConservative MP Michael Chong joins CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton on what’s next for his party, its leader and what’s on their agenda when Parliament returns. 8:11

Chong said he thought O’Toole’s statement that he would support a vote on a rule that would allow Conservatives to review his leadership was a mark of leadership.

When it comes to legislation in the House of Commons itself — the makeup of which looks very similar to before the election — Chong said he hoped the prime minister would adopt a “conciliatory” approach that recognized the results were “a real repudiation of him.”

“I think he needs to heed the advice of Canadians and work with opposition parties to come forward with an agenda that has the support of various members of the opposition,” Chong said.

“To not do that and assume that he’s got a mandate to do whatever he wants to do I think would be the wrong read of the mood of the Canadian public.”


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