Canada Gets a New Minister Responsible for Northern Affairs

Dominic LeBlanc was recently made the new Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. (Credit: Provided by Minister LeBlanc’s Office)
In July the Canadian federal government shuffled their cabinet, moving the Northern Affairs portfolio.

In July the Canadian federal government shuffled their cabinet, moving the Northern Affairs portfolio.

Earlier this summer, the Canadian federal government shuffled its cabinet. This was done, in part, to prepare for the upcoming federal elections expected in fall of 2019. In this shuffle, Minister Dominic LeBlanc was assigned the new role: Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade. This moves the Northern Affairs portfolio from the Minister Bennett, who will now focus solely on Crown-Indigenous Relations. 

Minister LeBlanc is a Member of Parliament from New Brunswick and within this government has been both the Leader of the Government within the House of Commons and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard. He is the son of former Governor General Roméo LeBlanc and has been a Member of Parliament since 2000. 

New Mandate 

At the end of August, Minister LeBlanc mandate was released to the public. This letter sets out the priorities for his work in the coming year. Some of the priorities mentioned in the letter include: "Lead our government’s work in the North, including a new Arctic Policy for Canada [...] continue to work to update and expand the Nutrition North program [...and] continue to work with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. to advance devolution in Nunavut." 

When asked about his new mandate by the High North News, Minister LeBlanc said, "The Government of Canada is committed to working on priorities for the North that are developed by Northerners, for Northerners. I look forward to working with Territorial governments, Indigenous communities, and all Northerners on issues that matter most to them, including developing the Northern economy in a sustainable way and improving access to affordable and nutritious food." 

The New Arctic Policy Framework for Canada was announced in 2016. Since the announcement the federal government has held wide consultations across the North and in the Canadian capital. The government also invited people to send letters and thoughts to a government email account. 

The Nutrition North program is a food subsidy program that is available in many northern communities that is designed to help offset the expensive cost of food.  Food insecurity in high in the Canadian North and Nutrition North was designed to help deal with the issue. However, there has been wide criticism around the program, which was captured in a federal report on the program in 2016. One of the general thoughts from the report was that, "many families are not able to afford healthy food." 

Northern Experience 

The new minister has already made a tour of the three territories and has met with various leader in the North, including the Territorial Premiers. Minister LeBlanc commented, "I was pleased to spend time in all three of Canada’s Territories recently, in my first formal visit as Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade." 

Member of Parliament, Yvonne Jones, who represents Labrador, will be filling the position of parliamentary secretary for Minister LeBlanc.  Ms. Jones in of Inuit descent and was recently the parliamentary secretary under Minister Bennett.



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