Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has taken on a major new role: finance minister.
In a physically distant ceremony at Rideau Hall on Tuesday, Freeland removed her face mask briefly to take the oath of office and become the country’s new minister of finance before replacing the mask to bump elbows with both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. General Julie Payette, also masked.
Veteran Liberal Dominic LeBlanc was also sworn in to take over the intergovernmental affairs portfolio.
The mini-cabinet shuffle follows the resignation Monday night of Bill Morneau after reports of a rift between him and Trudeau over the best course forward on the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Freeland was asked on Tuesday to share whether she has had disagreements with the prime minister and how they handled those, and to reflect on what it means to be the first woman in the role.
“It’s actually something we talked about yesterday and we reflected, I think with good humour, on a few of the issues we have disagreed on. I’m actually not going to catalog those,” she said.
“My motto has been to have open, candid conversations with the prime minister in private but also to have a united front when we come out in public … that’s a really, really important part of any working relationship.”
On being the first female finance minister, Freeland said: “It’s about time that we broke that glass ceiling.”
“This particular economic challenge our country is facing, the economic challenge created by the coronavirus is hitting women particularly hard. It’s hitting mothers particularly hard,” she continued.
“Certainly I’m glad that I’ll have an opportunity as a woman, as a mother, to address this really important challenge our country is facing.”
Morneau had been under fire over his role in the WE Charity scandal, particularly his failure to recuse himself from cabinet discussions on the group given his family financial ties.
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