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Opposition pressures for new ministers of defence and Indigenous relations in Trudeau cabinet

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to name a new federal cabinet today, the opposition is calling on him to replace veteran government ministers who "have allegedly failed to advance Indigenous reconciliation and confront sexual misconduct in the Canadian military."

The Conservatives have attacked Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and called for his removal, criticizing his “track record of failure” in the six years since the Liberals came to power, including his handling of the ongoing crisis over sexual misconduct in the military.

One source claims Oakville MP Anita Anand, who previously served as procurement minister, is set to replace Sajjan at defence. She first took office in the 2019 election.

Whereas the Tories are focusing on defence, the NDP is attacking Trudeau's indigenous relations minister. NDP MP Charlie Angus spoke alongside Indigenous leaders in Ottawa to attack Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett over her failure to address a compensation process for survivors of the St. Anne’s residential school.

“She has failed the test of reconciliation,” Angus told a news conference. “If the prime minister wants to send a clear message that he’s going to listen and that he’s going to change, he needs to have someone new at the table that can restore confidence in the survivors.”

Both departments have been beset by issues. The former by allegations of sexual misconduct by top officers in the Canadian Armed Forces; the latter by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential schools that Indigenous children were forced to attend.

One senior government official, who spoke to the Star on condition they aren’t named, refused to confirm or deny any changes to Trudeau’s cabinet — including whether Bennett or Sajjan would be moved. The official did suggest, however, that new ministers could join the cabinet at Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall.

One unnamed official had the following to say: “People know that an elected, progressive Parliament can do these things. We can find areas of common ground with the opposition, and we have the team to get this done. We have a fantastic team of people with amazing backgrounds — new and old — who can put this plan into action.”

The cabinet, like previous ones by Trudeau, is set to be gender-balanced between men and women.

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