Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Wednesday announced the 30 names to his first Liberal cabinet since 2015.
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The selections, while highlighting ideological affinities and red-hot debates, also highlight the importance of symbolism when it comes to the glamorous government business of picking a cabinet.
While Trudeau’s appointments were a mix of incumbents and newcomers, new members were mostly members of the families of famous Canadians, and such well-known members of the Liberal party as former president of the Canada Council Lawrence Cannon, prominent pundit and television host Sadiq Khan and hockey star Ben Hanowski.
The Canada’s new cabinet has a record number of women (nine out of 30) and a slightly higher percentage of ethnic minorities (13 out of 30). While a number of new faces, including the seven rookies, share both the women’s and ethnic minority status, two of the former natural resources ministers, Carr and Alexandre Boulerice, have lost their seats in Saturday’s election.
The most notable newcomer to the cabinet is likely the justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former cabinet minister and attorney general. Wilson-Raybould is just one of two Canadian leaders to come from within her own Quebecois community. The other was Les Vaux-le-Grand’s Paul-André Chagnon, who served in cabinet from 1927 to 1935 and later became provincial premier, followed by Denes Laurier (1929 to 1931) and Gilles Duceppe (1975 to 1978).
Trudeau pointed out that the two activists were all from a small group of people making history, but that didn’t do much to shift the inevitable narrative that Canada’s new president was trying to make up for his predecessor’s lack of representation from the LGBTQ community. “I’m hopeful that we will continue to work together in unity, together with all Canadians to make sure that we represent all parts of the country,” he said.
The largest number of newcomers to the federal cabinet is from the country’s western provinces. The new interior minister is a Quebecer (Joan Crockatt) and the natural resources minister is a Nova Scotian (Alain Rayes). Manitoba’s part in that cabinet size is due to the Liberal caucus recovering the seat held by the former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, the former provincial premier John Engler.
But Canada’s western provinces have also seen, relatively less dramatically, the resumption of several Conservatives who had been in cabinet for the previous government. Canadian provinces also have a small bloc of seats in the House of Commons that doesn’t cross party lines.
The Ontario premier, Kathleen Wynne, congratulated Trudeau for the cabinet’s choices. “I think it’s great that they seem to be reflecting the growing ethnic diversity of the country and adding members from all across the country who represent the most interesting areas of expertise and talent to make policy,” she said.