Russia-critic Chrystia Freeland was appointed Canada's foreign affairs minister and veteran John McCallum left government to become the country's ambassador to China on Tuesday, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reshuffled his Cabinet.
The changes are part of a wider shuffle of Trudeau's inner circle as he tries to position Canada for a new relationship with key trading partners and demote under-performers in his 14-month-old Liberal government.
"Obviously, the new administration to the south will present ... both opportunities and challenges, as well as a shifting global context," Trudeau told reporters after the announcement.
Canada's International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 25, 2016. /CFP Photo
Canada's relationship with the United States could be tested in the coming years, with President-elect Donald Trump promising to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement aimed at removing tariff barriers between Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The appointment of Freeland, an author and former reporter, to the foreign affairs file could be thorny as she has been harshly critical of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president whom Trump has repeatedly praised.
Canada's International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland arrives at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, October 24, 2016. /CFP Photo
Moscow banned Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent, in 2014 as part of a series of retaliatory sanctions against Canadian officials. Ottawa had earlier blacklisted many Russian officials to punish the country for its handling of Crimea.
Senior politician John McCallum was appointed Canada's ambassador to China, meanwhile, leaving his role as immigration minister. The appointment of such a veteran may be a sign of Trudeau’s desire to further deepen relations with China.
Francois-Philippe Champagne, parliamentary secretary to the finance minister, will become trade minister, the CBC said.
(Based on a story by Reuters)