Random Thoughts on Justin Trudeau’s Swearing In and Cabinet

  • So much openness.  From having a very public walk through the grounds of Rideau Hall to Trudeau doing Google Hangouts with school children (what?) before his first Cabinet meeting.
  • It’s another indictment of the Conservatives that having a cabinet where such commonplace things such as having an actual doctor as your Health Minister, a medical geographer who has a PhD as your Science Minister (let alone that we now *have* a Minister of Science) and a goddamned *astronaut* as your Transportation Minister are seen as radical departures from what we’ve had for the last 10 years.
  • It wasn’t from Ryan Meili but another doctor on my Facebook page observed about the new Health minister: “A family doc for Health Minister! One who is involved in HIV/AIDS work, global health, identifies as an activist, and has an interest in the social determinants. Has even been known to quote Virchow.”
  • How cool is it that an Afghan refugee who came to Canada as a child is now in charge of electoral reform?
  • Or a bad-ass Sikh Lt. Colonel is in charge of Defense?  (Ack – he’s a brown person with something on his head.  In Stephen Harper’s world, he’s barely a Canadian and now he’s in charge of our military!)
  • Or that a First Nations person doesn’t get a token spot in Indigenous & Northern Affairs but a real and vital position in Justice?
  • (Similarly, instead of Stephane Dion getting the expected Environment Portfolio, he gets Foreign Affairs where he can still pursue global environmental leadership but from a more powerful platform.)
  • Or a visually impaired paralympic athlete is in charge of Sports & Services to Disabled Persons?
  • Small changes mean big things – Aboriginal & Northern Affairs becomes Indigenous & Northern Affairs, “Climate Change” gets added to the name of the Environment portfolio.
  • Lawrence MacAulay from PEI is in charge of agriculture.  I always want that to be someone from the West but I’m biased. 😉
  • Breakdown of regional representation in the new cabinet.
  • I’m personally not a fan of quotas in any way but Trudeau’s pledge of a gender-balanced cabinet with 15 men and 15 women is pretty cool.  (Or in Mr. Trudeau’s words why he did this: “Because it’s 2015.”)
    [Edit: I better clarify my last statement before I have to hand in my lefty card.  I understand why Trudeau went for gender parity and I also understand the importance of it.  But my point is that I wish we could get *past* this even being part of the discussion and that people were selected based on who was best for the job – if that meant a cabinet of 30 women, so be it and bob’s your uncle.]
  • Who’s notable for *not* getting a post?  Seamus O’Regan is a celebrity and friend of Trudeau’s.  Joyce Murray ran for the Liberal Leadership and finished second to Trudeau by pushing cooperation with the NDP (oops!)  Former Toronto Police Chief, Bill Blair.
  • Speaking of NDP, I like how they’re calling themselves “The Progressive Opposition”.  Hints of a party name change to come?
  • The Oath the new Cabinet Ministers swore said they pledged allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and someone had a good joke that Trudeau probably put that in on purpose so the word “heir/hair” would be heard as much as possible.  Someone else joked they could’ve even had some line about “Nice heirs though!” 😉
  • A word of caution from a former library school classmate about those applauding the diversity of Trudeau’s cabinet: “Perhaps today is a good day to remind ourselves that diversity and inclusion are not the same as justice. Being in a room doesn’t mean you have power in that room, nor does it mean that the fundamental assumptions and structures of power that make that room possible are necessarily being brought into question.”
  • And a counter-point from a commenter to his post: “But representation _does_ matter in a democracy. And as I posted earlier, a room that is half women makes it easier for women to say what they really think, and for their voices to be heard. And the mere presence of sikhs, refugees, disabled people–this is not nothing. It’s unusual, and something to be proud of. To me this signals that Trudeau does want to be socially progressive, and I applaud him for that. Of course, we will see if he really listens to these people, and lets them have the power he says they will have. And economically progressive? Obviously still unlikely.”
  • More commentary from /r/canadapolitics

All in all, I’m still cautiously optimistic about Trudeau and hope he’ll continue an inclusive, positive, progressive approach.  But whenever I feel like “Gee, am I suddenly a Liberal?” I think about one of the hundreds of articles I read in the run up to the election.

It looked at who the 10 richest families in Canada had given the most money to and without fail, they tended to give (relatively) equally to the Conservatives and Liberals in the thousands of dollars.  For a couple donors on the prairies who also gave to the NDP, it was in the hundreds.  Lesson?  The NDP is a party that represents every day working people which is the *vast* majority of Canadians.  The Conservatives and the Liberals are (still) the somewhat interchangeable parties of the rich elites of the country (including Justin Trudeau himself come to think of it.)

Comments 1

  1. John B wrote:

    Justin calling heirs “hairs” would have been a rather disrespectful joke. More likely it’s something that rubbed off from his Quebec constituents.

    Posted 08 Nov 2015 at 12:54 pm

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