Trans-Atlantic trade expert Chrystia Freeland has become Canada's new foreign minister in a Cabinet shake-up. She replaces Stephane Dion, who criticized US President-elect Donald Trump over his hostility to Muslims.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named replacements for six of his Cabinet's 30 positions including Chrystia Freeland, who as trade minister negotiated the CETA trade dealwith the EU in Brussels last October.
As the new foreign minister, she will still be in a position to help renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico, should President-elect Donald Trump persist with his campaign vow to make changes or terminate that accord.
Somali-born Ahmed Hussen, a former refugee, becomes Canada's immigration minister, replacing John McCallum. McCallum will be Canada's ambassador to China.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Stephane Dion openly criticized Trump during last year's US presidential election campaign, saying Canada could not accept the Republican's threat to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Freeland, a former financial journalist, notably in Washington and Moscow, was among a group of Canadian officials sanctioned by Russia in 2014 in retaliation for Canadian sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine.
Of Ukrainian descent, Freeland has been a harsh critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has repeatedly praised.
Gender balance retained
Replacing Freeland as international trade minister is Francois-Philippe Champagne, a member of Canada's House of Commons who had served as parliamentary secretary in the Finance Ministry.
The Cabinet shuffle is the first major change Trudeau has made since he led his party to an election victory in October 2015 and made headlines by naming a gender-equal Cabinet. With this latest reshuffle, the Cabinet posts remain evenly divided between men and women.
ipj/cmk (AP, Reuters, AFP)