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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 4, 2020
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced his cabinet’s parliamentary secretaries and seven Atlantic MPs are in the mix.
Sean Fraser, MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova and formerly the parliamentary secretary to the minister of environment, is the new parliamentary secretary to the minister of Finance Bill Morneau and parliamentary secretary to the minister of Middle Class Prosperity and associate minister of Finance Mona Fortier.
The appointment comes a day after Fraser shared the heartbreaking news he would be taking some time away from his duties until the New Year following the death of his newborn daughter.
Fraser, a lawyer by trade, was first elected in 2015.
Halifax MP Andy Fillmore, a city planner before getting elected in 2015, will now be the parliamentary secretary to Catherine McKenna, the minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
Fillmore previously served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism and parliamentary secretary to the minister of Democratic Institutions.
Darren Fisher, MP for Dartmouth since 2015 and former city councilor, has been named parliamentary secretary to Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
Darrell Samson, also elected in 2015, was named parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and associate minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay.
Samson is the MP for the Nova Scotia riding of Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook.
Newfoundland and Labrador MP and former leader of the provincial Liberal party and official opposition Yvonne Jones, who represents the riding of Labrador, retains her role as parliamentary secretary to the minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal, though the title previously had included the Internal Trade file.
Jones, who is of Inuit descent, has also served as parliamentary secretary of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs as well as Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Gudie Hutchings, who was first elected in 2015 to represent the Newfoundland and Labrador riding of Long Range Mountains. is now the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, Maryam Monsef.
Hutchings previously served as the parliamentary secretary for Small Business and Tourism.
Finally, New Brunswick MP for Madawaska-Restigouche René Arseneault was named parliamentary secretary to the minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly, but specifically for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency file.
Last month it was released that each of the six regional economic development agencies would get a dedicated parliamentary secretary under Joly.
Since 2015 all six had been the responsibility of the minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains. Before that, each agency was either given its own cabinet minister or it was tacked onto the responsibilities of a cabinet minister from the region the agency served.
Also, unlike the other five development agency parliamentary secretaries, Arseneault will help out with the Official Languages portfolio.
The role of a parliamentary secretary, according to official House of Commons literature, is to assist the minister in carrying out his or her duties in the House and to speak on the government's behalf when issues arise in the absence of the minister.
They are not members of the cabinet and do not play a formal role in the cabinet decision-making process.
At the same time as the parliamentary secretary roles were announced on Thursday, the PMO announced it will soon release an updated version of the government’s guide for ministers and parliamentary secretaries, called Open and Accountable Government.
The changes will clarify the role of the minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, incorporating recommendations made by Anne McLellan, former deputy prime minister and minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Following the SNC Lavalin scandal, in March 2019, the prime minister sought advice from MacLellan on the relationship between the federal government and the minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Her final report was published in August.