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Canadian PM Trudeau shuffles Cabinet after Indian-origin Sikh minister steps down


TORONTO: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday made a former astronaut his new foreign minister in a Cabinet reshuffle, sparked by the sudden resignation of Indian-origin Canadian Sikh Navdeep Bains, the minister of innovation, science and industry.

“Earlier today, @NavdeepSBains announced that he is stepping down as Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to spend more time with his family. To fill the opening created by his announcement, we are making the following changes to the Canadian Ministry,” Prime Minister Trudeau announced on Twitter, giving the details of the reshuffle.

Bains, who played a key role in Trudeau’s leadership bid in 2013, issued a video statement on Tuesday wherein the 43-year-old minister said he was retiring from politics to spend more time with his family. He is unlikely to run in the next election.

Bains, who was one of the four Sikh cabinet ministers appointed by Trudeau in 2015, also served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in 2005. He was an MP between 2004 and 2011. Now, Trudeau’s Cabinet has only two Sikh ministers.

Former astronaut Marc Garneau was moved from the transport ministry to the foreign ministry, while François-Philippe Champagne has replaced Bains as minister of innovation, science and industry.

“From his work as an astronaut to his time within government, Minister Garneau has always been a strong voice for Canada around the world,” Trudeau said. “From leading Canada’s efforts on the Safer Skies Initiative to his work on the Canada-US Relations Cabinet Committee, Marc will bring a great deal of experience to his new portfolio.”

The 71-year-old minister became the first Canadian in space when he flew aboard the US space shuttle in 1984.

“Garneau will bring experience acquired during his close work with international partners on the investigation into the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 tragedy and as chair of the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations to his new portfolio, and will continue to be a leader on the world stage,” the prime minister said.

Parliamentary Secretary Omar Alghabra was appointed as the transport minister.

“With an engineering background and a history of advocating for public transit in the GTA, I know Omar will do an outstanding job in this new role,” he said.

Trudeau last shuffled his Cabinet in August after then finance minister Bill Morneau stepped down from his position.

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