On December 12, 2003 he was elevated to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Mitchell has the prenomial "the Honourable" and the postnomial "PC" for life by virtue of being made a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on June 11, 1997. In July 2004 he was moved to the position of Minister of Agriculture. He was defeated by Conservative candidate Tony Clement by a mere 28 votes, during the 2006 Canadian Election.
After the defeat, Mitchell remained in politics, although so far, not elected politics. In April 2006 Bill Graham named him his chief of staff. On August 9th, Mitchell released a press release on his official site declaring he wouldn't run in the next election.
On August 10th, Mitchell was appointed the President & CEO of the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation assuming duties in the fall of 2006. Mr. Mitchell has served as a community branch bank manager in Cornwall, Elliot Lake, and Gravenhurst. He has also worked with business communities through numerous associations, serving as President of the Northeastern Ontario, Elliot Lake, and Gravenhurst Chambers of Commerce, and as a Director of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. He served on both the Elliot Lake and Gravenhurst economic development committees and worked with local councils to implement specific action plans.
Mr. Mitchell has worked extensively with the tourism industry as well – as a banker, as a community volunteer, and by overseeing numerous public programs designed to assist the sector. He gained valuable experience with the local Peterborough tourism industry when he was the Minister responsible for the Trent Severn Waterway. By working with numerous communities across Ontario on economic and community development, Mr. Mitchell also developed a broad-based economic development perspective and was instrumental in helping key industry performers restructure to attain financial viability and future longevity in the community. As Secretary of State for Rural Development and FedNor, he assisted communities in formulating development strategies, building community capacity, and developing tools to help grow local economies. Mr. Mitchell successfully championed the development of a specific infrastructure program targeted for areas outside the large urban centers (COMRIF - the Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund).
Mitchell is married to Christine Hodson, and has five children: Christopher, Peter, Lisa, John David, and Kelly.