The federal Northern Affairs portfolio transmogrified once more on Wednesday as Dominic LeBlanc took over from Carolyn Bennett in a Liberal cabinet reshuffle.
Bennett was the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs but now hands the latter to LeBlanc, who becomes the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
LeBlanc, born in Ottawa and representing a riding in New Brunswick, is the latest in a proud federal tradition of appointing Northern Affairs ministers neither born in the North nor representing a northern riding.
Cabin Radio has prepared a helpful map of the 28 federal ministers to have held a portfolio with the word “northern” in it since 1953, when the Minister of Resources and Development was renamed the Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources. (This excludes short-term acting appointments.)
The map shows ministers by place of birth or by their federal riding, according to the layer you select.
Since 1953, we have had Ministers of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (1966-2011), Ministers of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2011-2015), a Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (2015-17), a Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (2017-2018), and now the snappily abbreviated Minister of INAIT in the form of LeBlanc.
Not one of the above ministers was born in the North or represented a northern riding. Few, if any – at first glance – appear to have had a significant connection to the territories prior to their appointment.
Three of the 28 were female. By place of birth, the closest northern minister was born some 1,000 km from Yellowknife. The farthest was born roughly 3,500 km away.
LeBlanc’s new position will handle northern issues not directly related to the Crown’s relations with Indigenous peoples, which will remain Bennett’s portfolio.
Jane Philpott remains the Minister of Indigenous Services, a position created in 2017 to oversee management of health, clean water, and other services for reserves and communities.