François-Philippe Champagne sworn in as new Innovation Minister as Bains steps down

Champagne was sworn in during the first virtual cabinet shuffle

Former Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has been sworn in as the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

Champagne was sworn in on January 12th virtually amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The appointment follows Navdeep Bains’ decision to not run in the next federal election and to leave cabinet to spend more time with his family.

In a statement, the Office of the Prime Minister said that “in his new role, Minister Champagne will rely on his extensive business experience in the fields of energy, engineering, and innovation to assist our economic recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic, create new jobs for Canadians and grow our middle class.”

The release notes that Champagne “deeply understands the needs and priorities of Canadians living in rural communities, including the importance of improving high-speed internet access that will empower communities across the country.”

When asked about the federal government’s ongoing Huawei 5G security review during a press conference, Minister Champagne stated that officials will take the appropriate time to come to a conclusion. 

“It’s probably one of the most consequential decisions. We will not be led into an artificial deadline that some would have suggested. We will consult with allies and make sure we make the best decision in the interest of Canadians,” he stated.

Bains’ departure

Bains posted a statement on Twitter outlining his decision to step away from cabinet and says that it’s time for him to put his family first.

“I have lived the Canadian dream; I am the son of a cabinet maker who had the opportunity to serve as a cabinet minister. But it’s time for me to focus on the most important job I have in life, being a Dad,” Bains said in the statement.

“It’s time for me to put my family first and I couldn’t be happier about it. I will continue to serve this community and I know whoever replaces me will have the same dedication, gratitude and humility for this great country.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a statement outlining that Bains “worked tirelessly to create more opportunities for Canadians and will be missed at the cabinet table.”

Bains was appointed the role of Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in November 2015. During his time in the position, Bains created a policy directive that requires the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to consider affordability and fairness for Canadians in its decisions.

Last year, Bains detailed efforts to reduce mid-range phone plans by 25 percent within two years, and his office has since published quarterly reports outlining progress towards this objective.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bains has worked to ensure that Canada obtains rapid testing kits, 3D-printed face shields and other tools to help fight against the virus. More recently, Bains introduced the proposed Digital Charter Implementation Act to modernize Canadian privacy laws.

Image credit: @FP_Champagne