On Nov. 4, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his 30 cabinet members were sworn in at Rideau Hall, the historic home of Canada’s Governor General since 1867.
The newly christened cabinet of the Liberal Party was met with the applause of thousands of supporters who watched the ceremony on several screens set up outside of Rideau Hall. Prime Minister Trudeau stated that his new cabinet was going to “get things done,” citing his cabinets wide variety of representation from all provinces and various ethnic backgrounds.
“It’s an incredible pleasure for me to be here today, before you, to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada,” Trudeau said to the enthusiastic crowd.
Further, the Prime Minister promised to grant more power to his ministers, stating that, “Government-by-cabinet is back. We’re going to sit down around the cabinet table and talk about the solutions that need to be put forward, what is in the best interest of Canadians, and how we are going to deliver on the promises that Canadians quite rightly expect us to keep,” said Trudeau.
At the event, each minister spoke to media officials present about their newly acquired portfolios, touching on what they would be working on in the coming months. According to John McCallum, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the newly formed government will keep their promise to harbour 25,000 people who were displaced as a result of the war in Syria.
“It remains our firm objective,” McCallum said, vowing to work with various federal departments, provinces and several NGOs.
According to the Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, the minister whose department will be responsible for screening the 25,000 refugees, “We are going to bend every effort to get this job done, get it done right and properly, and fulfil the commitment the Prime Minister made.”
The Liberal House Leader, Dominic LeBlanc, old friends of the Trudeau family, stated that Parliament would be called into session on Dec. 3. Following this, the Liberal Party will begin tackling its legislative concerns; including reducing the tax rate on those whose income falls between $45,000 and $90,000 as well as raising its income tax on those who make above $200,000 with a firm date of Jan. 1.
Further, LeBlanc and Minister of Innovation, Navdeep Bains, both alluded to granting aid to Bombardier while it continues to work on the delayed C Series Jet. According to LeBlanc, Bombardier’s request is “obviously a priority”, while Bains stated that the Liberal Party “campaigned on growing the economy and creating jobs.”
The new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, remarked that her government has a “very ambitious plan” to combat the growing concern over greenhouse gases, as Canada heads to a UN summit in Paris at the end of September.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Stéphane Dion, added to McKenna’s statement, stating that tackling greenhouse gases was “the most important of the century.… Canada will be part of the solution, to give this world sustainable development.”
Another hot-topic issue discussed was a recent report issued by The Globe and Mail, that found that more than 50 soldiers have killed themselves since returning from Afghanistan. Veteran Affairs Minister, Kent Hehr stated that Canadians veterans can be assured that they will be treated with “compassion” from the new government and that more specifically, all promises made by the Liberals during the election would be kept in regards to Veterans’ issues.
In keeping with Trudeau’s spirit of a government that balances experience with opportunity, several top minister positions went to fresh-faces in Ottawa. Toronto Businessman Bill Morneau was named Minister of Finance. Mélanie Joly was named Minister of Canadian Heritage, and Chrystia Freeland was named Minister of International Trade. Two first-time aboriginal Ministers were also given major positions with Vancouver lawyer Jody Wilson-Raybould being given the position of Minister of Justice and Nunavut’s Hunter Tootoo named Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
In addition to fresh-faces, there are four ministers of Sikh origin, including Defence Minister and former Canadian Veteran, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Infrastructure Minister, Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, Bardish Chagger, as well as the previously mentioned Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains.
Among the various rookies, two Ministers have disabilities including Carla Qualtrough, a lawyer who is the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, as well as Minister of Veterans Affairs, Kent Hehr.
As well as offering opportunity to younger politicians, Trudeau’s cabinet includes six former Liberal Ministers including former Public Works Minister, Scott Brison, the newly named Treasury Board President, as well as the new minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, who originally served as the Junior Minister of Public Health under the Paul Martin government. Even Stéphane Dion, the former Liberal leader who was defeated in the 2008 federal election, has been given the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
According to Eddie Goldenberg, one of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s senior advisors, it’s not a coincidence Trudeau choose McCallum and Goodale to handle the Syrian refugees crisis.
“He put his two most experienced ministers there, “stated Goldenberg Minister. “They know how to deal with deputy ministers, they know the constraints of government and they know how to cut the red tape.”
According to Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, her first priority is to restore the relationship between indigenous people and Canada, stating “And that means adversaries no more,” a clear nod to the No More movement, where First Nations activists protested various policies from the previous Conservative government.
In response to this, Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, stated that, “I think it’s a really good choice”. He also congratulated the nomination of Ms. Wilson-Raybould, the AFN’S( Assembly of First Nations) former regional chief for British Columbia, as Minister of Justice.
“It sends the statement that First Nations people are doctors and lawyers and scientists and business people,” said Bellegarde. “You don’t have to pigeon-hole people into the Indian Affairs department.”
In addition to naming his cabinet, Trudeau has created 10 new cabinet committees to deal with various issues such as inclusive growth, Canada-U.S. relations and climate change. The head committee called Agenda and Results, will be headed by Trudeau himself and will include 10 ministers including LeBlanc, Goodale, Mr. LeBlanc, Morneau and Freeland.
Overall, Prime Minister Trudeau and his new ministers have a lot of promises to keep in the coming months and hopefully, rule of Canada can truly be given back to the people who understand it best, not the politicians and the lawyers, but the people who have literal practical experience in their positions as Ministers.