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Trudeau taps two rookies, moves three ministers in cabinet shakeup

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shuffled three minsters into new roles, and appointed two rookies — David Lametti and Bernadette Jordan — to the front bench in a federal cabinet shakeup on Monday at Rideau Hall. 

The changes were in the prime minister’s mind, an “opportunity to put strong performers in important files and continue to demonstrate our capacity to deliver on a broad range of priorities for Canadians,” Trudeau said speaking to reporters after unveiling his changes to the ministerial roster.

The shuffle puts the size of the federal cabinet at 36 members, including Trudeau. This is the largest number of seats around the cabinet table during this government’s term in office. The gender balance is retained with today’s changes.

Trudeau moved minister Jane Philpott into the newly-vacated role as president of the Treasury Board and minister of digital government. This spot needed filling after long-time MP Scott Brison announced last week that he was resigning from cabinet because he will not be seeing re-election in 2019. The main priority of this position is overseeing the federal public service and intergovernmental spending.

Philpott, an Ontario MP, has been seen as a strong performer in cabinet. Trudeau called her a “natural choice” for the new job given her experience as vice-chair of the Treasury Board cabinet committee.

Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Hall, Philpott said that she had enjoyed learning in each new portfolio she’s held. This is now her third cabinet post, starting as the health minister in 2015.

Part of her job will be working on the incoming new public service pay system to replace the problem-plagued Phoenix software. She said she’ll devote considerable attention to this file.

Philpott’s new job meant there was a vacancy in the role as Indigenous services minister, a cabinet post created in 2017 as part of an effort to reset the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous people.

That job has been given to Newfoundland MP Seamus O’Regan, who is being shuffled out of the Veterans Affairs portfolio, a job he’s had since joining cabinet in that same 2017 shuffle.

He’ll be continuing the work on delivering programs to First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, including education and housing, as well as chipping away at clearing the drinking water advisories in First Nation communities.

Asked to comment on why O’Regan was moving, Trudeau said that both his past role and his new one are centred around direct delivery from the government to citizens, and that is something that needs to be done right.

O’Regan said his predecessor did a great job and he has big shoes to fill, when it comes to maintaining the relationships and trust she was developing with Indigenous people. He has vowed not to lose any of the momentum of Philpott’s tenure.

In hot water in recent months, over what some saw as problematic comments comparing his experience to that of veterans, O’Regan said he doesn’t want anything he says to serve as a distraction.

“I will listen,” O’Regan said, when asked what his message is to Indigenous people in Canada.

Jody Wilson-Raybould is out as justice minister, a job she’s had since 2015, and has been shuffled into the Veterans Affairs job.

Trudeau, responding to why British Columbia MP Wilson-Raybould was shuffled out of justice, said that serving veterans affairs requires a steady hand and she has navigated big files during her years on the file. He called her “extraordinarily capable,” and shot down that it’s a demotion.

“I would caution anyone who thinks that serving our veterans and making sure they get the care to which they are so justly entitled from any Canadian government is anything other than a deep and awesome responsibility,” Trudeau said.

Wilson-Raybould also downplayed any suggestion that her move is a demotion, saying that she is “incredibly proud” of the work she did during her three years in the role. She said she feels she accomplished most of her mandate letter tasks, from legalizing cannabis and putting in a new regime for physician-assisted dying, to advancing legislation to reform the criminal justice system.

Newcomers take justice, new rural development role

Replacing Wilson-Raybould as Canada’s new justice minister and attorney general is Quebec MP David Lametti, who had been serving as a parliamentary secretary for innovation.

Lametti, who in his new position will have the final decision on the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wangzhou, said he wouldn’t comment on the case given his potential involvement in the future, but asserted that Canada is a rule of law country and he will respect that.

More broadly, the former law professor said he hopes the experience he’s had working as a parliamentary secretary for various ministers since being elected in 2015 will rub off, but he’s not sure how much law-making he’ll be able to accomplish before the end of this Parliament in June.

Keeping in mind regional representation, Trudeau has promoted Nova Scotia MP Bernadette Jordan to cabinet in a new role, as minister of rural economic development. She had been serving as a parliamentary secretary for democratic institutions.

In this newly created cabinet position Jordan will be responsible for overseeing a new rural jobs strategy, implementing high-speed internet to more rural areas, and handling the infrastructure needs of these communities.

She also becomes the first female to represent a Nova Scotia riding in cabinet. She had previously been chair of the Atlantic Liberal caucus. Prior to being elected in 2015, she was a development officer for the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore in Nova Scotia.

“Since 2015 Bernadette has been a strong voice … She will be a great addition to our team. Now, the Minister of rural Economic Development is a new cabinet position and it will play a major role in the lives of rural Canadians and their families,” Trudeau said, adding that rural issues are often heard by members of the government as they travel the country.

Jordan said that she is “extremely proud” and “honoured” to have this new position.

She said the creation of this position is a reflection of the government acknowledging that the reality for rural Canadians is often different than those who live in urban areas.

Pending further unanticipated departures, many see this as likely the last shuffle before the next federal election, meaning that this lineup will likely be the roster of ministers that Trudeau wants to have in place for the 2019 campaign.

Speaking to how the coming election factored in to today’s changes, Trudeau said the shuffle is “an illustration of the depth of bench strength” that his majority caucus holds. “We’re very excited about being able to show how we step up as a team,” he said.

 

 

 

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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