Following a cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 26, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Minister Joyce Murray has been replaced by Diane Lebouthillier.
Lebouthillier, who previously served as the Minister of National Revenue since 2015, was born in Newport, Québec before she moved to her parent’s hometown of Gaspé. Prior to her political career, Lebouthillier worked as a social worker before she was elected a Prefect in the Le Rocher-Percé Regional County Municipality in 2010.
She also serves as a member of the Canada NATO Parliamentary Association and formerly served on the Canada-France Inter-parliamentary Association.
Besides her ministerial portfolio, she serves as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The riding occupies the eastern section of the Gaspé Peninsula and encompasses the Magdalen Islands, a traditional fishing community in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“I would like to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his trust in giving me the honour to continue serving Canadians as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard,” said Lebouthillier via Twitter. “I’m looking forward to working with the industry and coastal communities from coast to coast to coast, while putting to good use my on-the-ground experience in this sector that is so vital for our region.”
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), Newfoundland and Labrador’s union for fish harvesters and fish plant workers, extended a congratulatory message to the new fisheries minister. The union also expressed hope that Lebouthillier would bring a “renewed focus on robust science and economically sustainable management” to her portfolio.
“I want to thank Minister Joyce Murray for the time spent in the portfolio and her directness with me during the months we worked together,” said FFAW-Unifor President Greg Pretty. “I am very much looking forward to meeting with Minister Lebouthillier in the coming days and our members hope that, going forward, DFO White Hills will have an ‘open for business’ approach to better collaborate with fish harvesters.”
Pretty expressed his opinion that there is a “disconnect” between fish harvesters and DFO in Ottawa that he hopes to remedy with the new minister.
“My goal is to work with Minister Lebouthillier to bridge that gap and ensure harvesters’ voices are not only heard, but respected, by the federal decision makers who control their livelihood,” said Pretty.