July 18, 2018 / 2:26 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada PM Trudeau, facing tough re-election bid, shuffles cabinet

(Adds details on new ministers, background)

OTTAWA, July 18 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who faces a tough re-election bid in October 2019, shuffled his cabinet on Wednesday in an effort to tackle his most serious domestic and international challenges.

In one of the most significant of the 11 changes, trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was promoted to the infrastructure portfolio, where he will oversee plans to spend billions of dollars on major projects.

This should allow Champagne - one of the government’s more dynamic performers - to spend more time in his home province of Quebec, where Liberals say they must gain seats to stand a chance of keeping their Parliamentary majority in 2019.

A Nanos Research poll released on Tuesday put the Liberals at 37 percent and the Conservatives at 35 percent, indicating that if an election were held now, Trudeau would end up with a weakened minority government.

Champagne’s move will have little immediate impact on Canadian trade policy, which is dominated by the possibility of U.S. auto tariffs and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is in charge of ties with the United States, including NAFTA.

Champagne’s department - which is being renamed as the ministry of international trade diversification - will be led by Jim Carr, previously minister of natural resources.

The United States takes 75 percent of all Canadian goods exports and Trudeau says Canada needs to find new export markets. (Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Catherine Evans and Dan Grebler)

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