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The Latest: Parliament prorogued, Freeland promoted in Liberal cabinet shuffle

OTTAWA — The latest developments on Aug. 18, 2020 as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeks to shuffle his cabinet and prorogue Parliament. (All times eastern.)

4:39 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he does not want an election, but says it's clear the country is facing many issues that did not exist when Canadians last went to the polls in the fall of 2019.

He says his party needs a mandate to move forward with its plan to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, since so much has changed since the December throne speech.

Newly minted Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the economic restart needs to be green, as well as equitable, inclusive and focused on jobs and growth.

Freeland says pandemic has created a once-in-a-lifetime challenge for the country, but the government is committed to do whatever it takes to support Canadians.

4:15 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is releasing thousands of pages of documents over to MPs on the House of Commons finance committee.

That committee had demanded the documents as part of its investigation into whether Trudeau's relationship with WE Charity influenced the government's ill-fated decision to have the organization run a federal student-volunteer program.

The documents were turned over to the committee earlier this month, but lawyers were vetting them for personal information and cabinet secrets.

Trudeau asked Gov. Gen. Julie Payette for a prorogation of Parliament, which shuts down the work of committees, but the documents are still being released.

4:02 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he asked Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to prorogue Parliament until late next month.

He says Parliament will return Sept. 23, which is two days after the House of Commons was initially scheduled to resume sitting.

Then will come a speech from the throne, which Trudeau says will give opposition parties the chance to vote on whether they have confidence in the minority Liberal government.

Trudeau says the pandemic has called for a reset of the government's agenda, and says the throne speech will be a roadmap to rebuilding the economy post-COVID-19.

2:37 p.m.

Everyone taking part in the physically-distanced cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall wore masks for the ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chrystia Freeland, who was sworn in as finance minister, demonstrated that it is difficult to put on a mask with just one hand as she attempted to return hers to her face after taking it off to take the oath of office.

Trudeau usually hugs his cabinet ministers at such ceremonies, instead he gave Freeland and Dominic LeBlanc, who is now intergovernmental affairs minister, a congratulatory elbow bump. The two ministers also bumped elbows with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette following their oaths.

2:17 p.m.

Chrystia Freeland is Canada's new finance minister.

She was sworn in at Rideau Hall at a ceremony led by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Dominic LeBlanc is being sworn in as intergovernmental affairs minister, a role he held in the Liberal government's previous mandate.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is shuffling his cabinet after Bill Morneau resigned as finance minister Monday night.

1:20 p.m.

Dominic LeBlanc will take over the intergovernmental affairs portfolio from Chrystia Freeland as she becomes finance minister, sources confirm to The Canadian Press.

LeBlanc had been minister of that portfolio in the Liberal government's first mandate, but had stepped back in the spring of 2019 after he was diagnosed with cancer.

The veteran New Brunswick MP was appointed President of the Queen's Privy Council after the Liberal government was re-elected last fall, a post that gave him no department to run.

However, he was put in charge of files including combating online disinformation and government interaction with the Senate.

1:00 p.m.

The Prime Minister's Office says Trudeau will head to Rideau Hall for a ceremony at 2 p.m., where he will install Chrystia Freeland as the new federal finance minister.

Trudeau will then head to Parliament Hill to take questions from the media as his Liberal government looks to prorogue Parliament for a reset this fall.

The Canadian Press

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