In 1968 Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau was sworn in with a Cabinet of suited white men. Forty seven years later his son has delivered Canada a Cabinet of gender parity, cultural, age and geographical diversity - all in a carnival like atmosphere open to the public. 

It was a spectacle, as expected.

Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister was sworn in today, and he means to get down to business immediately.

Forty-three year old Justin Trudeau announced his new Cabinet and presented them to the public.

What was so refreshing, so different, was the usual fleet of limos which traditionally ferry  politicians to such events was replaced by a bus, which was then abandoned at the gates to the Governor General’s residence.

Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, flanked by the yet to be sworn in Cabinet, walked the long drive to Rideau Hall for the formal ceremony.

It was a gorgeous sunny autumnal day and it was an open invite for anyone to attend.

Thousands from all over Canada and beyond gathered in the gardens to cheer and applaud, and as many of them said, to witness history, albeit via live streaming on giant screens outside.

After the swearing in Trudeau delivered on his promise of an open and accountable government by holding a press conference outside.

He delivered on his promise of gender parity in his Cabinet - 15 women and 15 men.

When asked after the ceremony why parity was necessary, Trudeau responded, “because it is 2015”.

Indeed it is, and the Cabinet with many new and some familiar faces is, as Trudeau says, a Cabinet that “looks like Canada”.

It has a diverse mix of cultures, of ages, of territorial representation and a balance of new faces with more experienced political hands.

It includes the first aboriginal Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Jody Wilson-Raybould.

This former Crown Prosecutor will launch the long-demanded and election-promised inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Trudeau is keen on answers and a reconciliation process.

Harjit Singh Sajjan is the first Sikh in a Canadian Cabinet and this former decorated Afghan war veteran is the new Minister of National Defence.

Trudeau says he built a plan to deliver to Canadians the kind of government that reflects the values and priorities they voted for.

As the only son of a Canadian Prime Minister to be elected to the same office, Trudeau was asked what thought he had given to his father today.

His answer was that while he thinks of his father “and how pleased he must be that Canada so firmly came together around an ambitious vision for the country that we presented, but my thoughts today, ahh sorry Dad, aren’t mostly on him but very much on my own kids and the kids right across this country, and we are going to work very very hard to ensure they have a better future”.

Trudeau’s initial priorities are to cut the middle class tax rate, revamp the child benefit programme and to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of this year.

It’s an ambitious target and the polar opposite sentiment of the man he so convincingly crushed on October 19.

Stephan Dion - a former leader of the Liberal Party as Foreign Minister will be dealing with that, and immigration personnel have been told to expect to work marathon days to try and reach this target.

There will be critics of course if 25 thousand refugees are not on Canadian soil by December 31, but every effort is clearly going to be made.

Interestingly the new Finance Minister is a political newbie.

Bill Morneau, the former executive chairman of one of Canada’s largest human resources companies, has an interesting mandate given the Trudeau government was elected promising deficits.

For the next three years Morneau will preside over deficits of up to $10 billion a year and $60 billion spending on infrastructure - all the while managing an anaemic economy with oil prices stuck at around $50 a barrel.

But back to what will probably be the best day of Trudeau’s “sunny ways” era ahead.

The sun was shining in the nation’s capital, there were babies to hug and kiss, autographs to be signed, thank-yous to be delivered and of course selfies to be taken.

He achieved them all and overhead shots of the crowds embracing their new PM looked very much like a game of ‘where’s Wally’. A security detail’s nightmare.

Not unlike Obama’s first inauguration - apart from the walkabout - the changes demonstrated in Trudeau’s ceremony had a rock-star-feel-good-history-making sense about them.

In both new administrations there was an overwhelming sense of ‘ding dong the wicked witch is dead’.

Well Halloween 2015 is over, but as Obama can tell the young Trudeau, Halloween and its various scary characters have a nasty habit of reappearing - and not just on October 31.

In the meantime Trudeau has work to do and very little time to come up to speed.

He has four major international summits over the next few weeks including the climate change conference in Paris at the end of November to which he will present a 180 on the (lack of) commitments of his predecessor.

The transfer of power may have been quiet and peaceful, but the upheaval in policy direction has already begun. 


Comments (3)

by Lee Churchman on November 05, 2015
Lee Churchman

What a relief.

by Peggy Klimenko on November 06, 2015
Peggy Klimenko

"He delivered on his promise of gender parity in his Cabinet - 15 women and 15 men."

This appears to have been accepted without demur in Canada, yet the same suggestion here brings down the wrath of much of society on the head of the unfortunate suggester.

Of course, it helps that Trudeau's a young, photogenic, newly-minted PM: in such a situation, changes of this sort are easier than for a PM further down the track of office. Nevertheless, he's evidently not prepared to wait for that far-off day when women will earn equal representation purely on merit.

In any event, some of those 15 women are likely to stumble in their portfolios - as will some of the 15 men. And in either case, the cause will be competence-, not gender-based. As would be the case here, were we ever to reach this apotheosis of equality....

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