Canada appoints its first female finance minister

Ms Freeland, a former journalist and Canada's deputy minister, is a champion of aggressive fiscal policy

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to reporters next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada August 18, 2020.  REUTERS/Patrick Doyle
Powered by automated translation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Chrystia Freeland as the country’s first-ever female finance minister, following a parliamentary reshuffle as he looks to push through an ambitious spending plan to revitalise the economy.

Ms Freeland, a former journalist who has worked at The Financial Times, The Globe and Mail and Thomson Reuters, is a champion of aggressive fiscal policy and has previously been involved in the renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement with the US.

She has also authored the book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, a New York Times bestseller.

Her appointment comes amid a yawning budget deficit of 16 per cent - the highest Canada has faced since the Second World War. Mr Trudeau, who prorogued the parliament ahead of plans to outline a new agenda next month, said he intended fill budgetary gaps in public health and social safety.

“This is our moment to change the future for the better. We can’t afford to miss it because this window of opportunity won’t be open for long,” he told reporters.

Ms Freeland, who is also the deputy prime minister, replaces Bill Morneau, who resigned from his position following policy differences with Mr Trudeau.

The incoming finance minister’s appointment has been widely lauded by business leaders in Canada.

Ms Freeland, 52, is only the second-ever female finance minister from the Group of Seven countries, following Christine Lagarde of France.

Ms Lagarde went on to head the International Monetary Fund and now is at the helm of the European Central Bank.

The resignation of Mr Morneau earlier this week leaves open the possible options for a robust recovery plan for Canada.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for our whole country and our commitment as a government is to do whatever it takes to support Canadians as we get through that challenge,” Ms Freeland said on Tuesday.

She said the government planned to turn a “tremendous challenge” into a “fabulous opportunity".