OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday took the first formal step to creating a new cabinet after his ruling Liberals lost their parliamentary majority in an election last week, leaving him reliant on opposition parties to govern.
Trudeau visited Governor General Julie Payette – the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state – for a private meeting to tell her he planned to stay in power. The prime minister’s spokesman described the meeting as a formality.
Trudeau said last week that he intended to unveil his new slate of ministers on Nov. 20.
The Liberals won 157 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons in the Oct. 21 election, while the main opposition Conservatives took 121. Liberal officials say Trudeau is most likely to work more often with the left-leaning New Democrats, one of the parties that hold the balance of power.
A major challenge for Trudeau is addressing anger in the western energy-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which booted out all their Liberal lawmakers in the election as a protest against tougher environmental policies that the oil sector sees as a major threat.
One solution to raise the government’s profile in Western Canada might have been to promote Trade Minister Jim Carr, the senior minister in Manitoba, which borders Saskatchewan to the east.
Carr though last week announced he had been diagnosed with blood cancer and was undergoing both chemotherapy and dialysis.
Another avenue open to Trudeau is appointing a special council of western advisors to help heal ties with Alberta and Saskatchewan at a time when at least one former Conservative legislator is promoting the idea of separation.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Paul Simao)