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Minister of Water missing in Trudeau’s cabinet shuffle

Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shuffled his cabinet with the federal election fifteen months away. 


CBC reported, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made significant changes to his cabinet, bringing five new ministers to the table and creating new portfolios for seniors, intergovernmental affairs and border security.” According to CBC, some of these changes include:

  • Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson becomes minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

  • Amarjeet Sohi moves from Infrastructure to Natural Resources.

  • Jim Carr moves from Natural Resources to International Trade Diversification.

  • Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has “northern affairs” dropped from her title.

Missing in these changes is the creation of a Minister of Water position. The Council of Canadians has long called for a Minister of Water position to be created. A Water Minister is needed to coordinate the more than twenty departments related to water, develop a national action plan on water and advocate for the protection of water in energy and pipeline, mining and other projects. 


Energy projects like the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Site C dam and fracking projects pose a risk to water quality.


In 2008, the federal Liberal party under Stéphane Dion’s leadership pledged that a Liberal government would create a water minister portfolio.


A national action plan on water that includes bold new water legislation enshrining the UN human rights to water and sanitation and protects drinking water and water for ecosystems is sorely needed. 


The Liberal government has undemocratically pushed through Bill C-69, which makes sweeping changes to Canada’s water, environmental and energy legislation and hands even more power to corporations in water and energy decision making. The Liberal government shut down debate on the 400 page bill four times as it moved through parliament. The Bill passed third reading last month despite all opposition parties having voted against it. 


The Bill fails to fulfill the Liberal government’s commitment to restore protections and introduce modern safeguards and falls short of requiring free, prior and informed consent as outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 


Tragically, the Liberal government supports an economic system that puts unlimited growth above the vital needs of people and the planet. Bill C-69 further cements market-based, corporate-friendly policies into Canada’s water, environment and energy laws. 


A Minister of Water is urgently needed to uphold the human right to water and protect water for people and ecosystems from coast to coast to coast. A Minister of Water is required to promote policies that serve people, communities and our shared environment, not corporate interests, across Canada and Indigenous nations.


Take action and sign the Council of Canadians’ petition calling on the Liberal government to scrap Bill C-69, create a Minister of Water position and develop a national action plan on water.