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How will Trudeau's cabinet drive the food biz?

Climate change and trade deal among issues new ministers will tackle

Justin Trudeau has launched a new Liberal era with a 30-member cabinet that has mostly fresh faces and an equal number of men and women.

Several ministers will have a say in Canada's food business. Who are they? Let's take a look.

Lawrence MacAulay is the new minister of agriculture and agri-food. He's P.E.I’s longest serving MP (representing the riding of Cardigan since 1988) and is no stranger to a cabinet post. He spent time as both minister of labour and solicitor general under Jean Chretien.

If nothing else, MacAulay understands agriculture. He's a former farmer. No doubt Canada's dairy farmers will look to get his attention. They're worried about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive new trade pact with Pacific Rim countries that, if OK'd by Ottawa, will allow more foreign dairy products into Canada.

A first-time MP, Jane Philpott is now minister of health. Prior to entering politics, Philpott made a name for herself working in West Africa where, in the 1990s, she helped develop medical training programs. She is founder of the Give a Day to World AIDS movement and an advocate for expanded refugee rights.

As the Trudeau government's point person on heath, she'll oversee the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and, of course, have a say in any future government action on issues such as trying to lower sodium and sugar in the foods Canadians eat.

Hunter Tootoo, a former Nunavut legislator, was named minister of fisheries, oceans and Canadian Coast Guard. Tootoo’s appointment means two Aboriginal MPs will serve in Trudeau’s cabinet. He is the co-founder of the Iqaluit branch of Arctic Insurance Brokers Ltd. and a cousin of New Jersey Devils forward Jordin Tootoo.

Fishing is a major employer on two of Canada's coasts. Tootoo will have to oversee ways to improve search and rescue response times, keep fisherman happy and employed, and the annual seal hunt.

A former journalist and Rhodes scholar, Chrystia Freeland was named minister of international trade. She too will have to deal with the Trans-Pacific trade pact. Trudeau hasn't said yet whether he supports the deal. Rather, on the campaign trail he said he wanted to read the agreement first before taking a stance on it. Whatever that happens to be, it will be up to Freeland to handle the fallout.

Catherine McKenna is the new minister of environment and climate change. A human rights and social justice lawyer, McKenna was formerly employed by the federal government as a trade policy officer.

The first challenge for the Ottawa MP happens at the end of the month when international climate change talks in Paris take place, with countries ready to set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gases.

The food business doesn't get blamed nearly as much as the Oilsands for Canada's environmental reputation. But any significant reductions in Canada's carbon footprint commitments will surely have an effect on the food supply chain. Stay tuned.

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