Judy Foote stepping down as minister and Liberal MP for family reasons
The Newfoundland MP's departure leaves one of cabinet's most onerous positions vacant; Trudeau is not expected to immediately name a successor
OTTAWA—Judy Foote is resigning from the federal cabinet and plans to step down as a Liberal MP.
The Newfoundland and Labrador MP has been on an indefinite leave of absence from the Public Works and Government Services Department since April, due to family health issues.
She will make the formal announcement in St. John’s, N.L., today, while surrounded by her family.
One source close to Foote, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said she told staff Aug. 23 that she has enjoyed spending more time with her family these last few months and leaving elected politics altogether is a way to make sure that continues.
“She has appreciated the time with family, especially being a grandma,” said the source.
The source said with such a large riding, remaining on as an MP, even without being in cabinet, would have required more travel than she would like.
The source said Foote has not yet determined the date of her departure as the MP for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, but it will likely be some time after everyone returns to the House of Commons, which would allow her the opportunity to deliver a farewell speech.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not expected to immediately name a replacement for Foote, whose portfolio has been overseen on an interim basis by Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.
The portfolio is one of the most onerous in cabinet, with a huge array of responsibilities, including resolving the fiasco over the Phoenix pay system, which has resulted in public servants being overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all. Insiders say the job will go to an experienced minister, necessitating a small shuffle of the current cabinet lineup.
As well, Trudeau is expected to award rookie Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan with a junior cabinet post in order to ensure Newfoundland and Labrador retains its representation around the cabinet table.
O’Regan is a personal friend of Trudeau’s. He and his partner were among the friends who accompanied Trudeau on a controversial family vacation last Christmas to the private Bahamian island owned by the Aga Khan, a billionaire philanthropist and spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims.
The previous Christmas, O’Regan spent the holidays in a “wellness centre” where he received treatment for alcoholism. The former host of CTV’s Canada AM has openly discussed his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness.
Insiders say Trudeau may also appoint a new female MP to cabinet in order to retain gender parity among his ministers.