Canada's Trudeau, facing criticism, appoints border security minister

Blair talks with media in Ottawa on Wednesday Nov. 30 2016. iPolitics  Matthew Usherwood

Sohi takes the contentious pipeline file from Jim Carr, who has been moved to global trade in a bid to diversify Canada's trade interests beyond the United States. Provincial elections are also looming in Alberta and Quebec that could result in governments opposed to Trudeau's agenda, even as the Liberals continue to face resistance from B.C. over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

Blair's move to the front benches in the newly created cabinet post of minister of border security and organized crime reduction also gives Justin Trudeau a new ally in a much broader ideological battle - combating what the prime minister calls the "politics of fear" practised by conservatives at home and overseas.

In one key change, Trudeau confidant and long-time MP Dominic LeBlanc moved from fisheries to intergovernmental affairs, elevating him into a higher-profile role that's destined to become particularly turbulent.

Jonathan Wilkinson, a North Vancouver MP, is taking over from LeBlanc as minister of fisheries, oceans and the Coast Guard.

The number of tankers passing through the waters off the Lower Mainland will increase significantly - to almost one a day - and local environmentalists and First Nations leaders are anxious releasing diluted bitumen into these waters could destroy a traditional way or life and imperil the local economy.

Wilkinson, a Rhodes Scholar, has a background in the energy and environmental technology sectors.

The new team was introduced at a swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday at Rideau Hall, the governor general's residence in Ottawa.

The position is new in Trudeau's government but previous prime ministers have appointed a minister of state, essentially a junior minister, responsible for the elderly. Mr. Carr is said to be highly regarded by Mr. Trudeau's inner circle, and has ties to Canada's.

Tassi, a former school board trustee, told reporters Wednesday she already holds "tea and talk with Tassi" sessions with Hamilton seniors, something she could expand nationally.

Blair, who has served as the Trudeau government's parliamentary secretary on the complex issue of cannabis legalization, will continue his work on the pot file and be responsible for addressing gun violence. He also has duties related to the thorny issues of border management and irregular migration. Blair, who promoted the change as a way to crush black market sales of the drug, will also be focused on organized crime reduction.

"Now they are going to have an enforcement approach, to be stronger at the border", said Francisco Rico-Martinez, co-director of the FCJ Refugee Centre in Toronto.

Tassi has said in the past that she is "pro-life" but would vote in favour of reproductive choice in any votes on the matter in Parliament. People have crossed illegally between those formal crossings, where the agreement does not apply.

Melanie Joly - Her rocky tenure as heritage minister came to an abrupt and inglorious end upon being shuffled into the more junior ministerial position overseeing tourism, official languages and la Francophonie. Joly was shuffled after she faced some controversy in her home province of Quebec for defending the government's decision not to apply sales tax on digital services like Netflix.

Francois-Philippe Champagne becomes Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, he had been Minister of International Trade.

Rodriguez is no stranger to the senior ranks, having previously served as the government's chief whip.

Rodriguez was first elected in 2004 before losing his seat in the 2011 election.

By now it's surely clear to most Canadians, whatever their politics, that if Justin's last name wasn't Trudeau, he wouldn't be the prime minister of Canada today.

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