January 10, 2017 / 4:51 PM / a year ago

Canada's Freeland, Russia critic, to be foreign minister - source

(Adds details on changes, context)

OTTAWA, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland will become Canada’s foreign affairs minister in a planned Cabinet shuffle, said a person familiar with the change, putting a Russia critic on the front lines of working with the incoming U.S. Trump administration.

The change-up is part of a wider shuffle of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet which will be announced at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) on Tuesday.

The person said Freeland would replace Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

A Freeland spokesman could not immediately be reached while spokespeople for Dion and Trudeau declined to comment. A person with knowledge of the matter said on Monday that Dion was set to be removed as foreign minister.

The shuffle will be the first major change Trudeau has made to the Cabinet he appointed in November 2015. Donald Trump is due to succeed U.S. President Barack Obama on Jan. 20.

Canada’s relationship with its neighbor to the south could be tested in coming years, with Trump promising to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement aimed at removing tariff barriers between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The appointment of Freeland, an author and former reporter, to the foreign affairs file could be thorny as she has been harshly critical of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president whom Trump has repeatedly praised.

Moscow banned Freeland, who is of Ukrainian descent, in 2014 as part of a series of retaliatory sanctions against Canadian officials. Ottawa had earlier blacklisted many Russian officials to punish the country for its annexation of Crimea.

Before running for election in the Canadian parliament, Freeland worked for Reuters, a unit of Thomson Reuters.

Among other changes that are expected to be announced, Immigration Minister John McCallum will be appointed Canada’s ambassador to China, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) said.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, parliamentary secretary to the finance minister, will become trade minister, the CBC said. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr and David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Howard Goller)

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