Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has been named interim veterans affairs minister in the wake of Jody Wilson-Raybould’s resignation from the post.
The prime minister’s office announced the change Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Wilson-Raybould’s resignation was announced.
Wilson-Raybould was moved to the veterans affairs post in a January cabinet shuffle, in what many observers saw as a demotion. She was previously attorney general and minister of justice.
Her resignation follows a report last week from the Globe and Mail that alleged Wilson-Raybould was pressured to force the Public Prosecution Service of Canada into striking a deal with SNC-Lavalin over corruption charges that would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid a trial, while not admitting any criminal wrongdoing.
Sajjan has been defence minister since the Liberals won government in 2015. He becomes the fourth different politician to serve as veterans affairs minister in the four-year-old Trudeau government.
The former Conservative government only had five veterans ministers during its nearly decade-long tenure.
When reached for comment, the Royal Canadian Legion said Veterans Affairs has seen several “puzzling” leadership changes in recent years that have raised questions about the government’s commitment to serving Canada’s veterans.
It wants to see Ottawa merge Veterans Affairs with the Department of National Defence to ensure the veterans file is treated as a “vital” portfolio and that critical issues in this space are “immediately” addressed.