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john ibbitson

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

In these final hours, Canadians are asking themselves whether Justin Trudeau is ready to lead Canada. But there is another question: If the Liberals were to win the election, would there be enough quality timber in the caucus to form a solid cabinet?

The short answer is yes. In fact, Mr. Trudeau has more to work with than Stephen Harper had when he formed government back in 2006.

The candidates have to get elected, of course. And the Liberal Leader has made the challenge of building a cabinet more difficult by promising that half its members will be women.

But to the credit of Mr. Trudeau and his campaign team, the party has fielded an impressive roster of candidates fit for cabinet should the opportunity arise.

One vital qualification for governing a complex, federal, G-7 nation is experience in governing that nation. Mr. Harper came to power in 2006 with a caucus essentially devoid of that experience, although he was able to draw on the talents of former Ontario cabinet ministers Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement and John Baird, who formed the backbone of his first cabinet.

Mr. Trudeau, in contrast, would have a clutch of former cabinet ministers from the Chrétien and Martin eras to draw on, including former finance minister Ralph Goodale, former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and former ministers Scott Brison, John McCallum, Geoff Regan and Judy Sgro. Several others served as ministers of state or parliamentary secretaries, such as Carolyn Bennett, Mauril Bélanger and Hedy Fry.

Regional representation is vital in a Canadian cabinet. Mr. Trudeau will be particularly anxious to ensure strong representation from Quebec, where the Liberals are trying to expand their base, and the West, where the Liberals are weak.

Former Montreal mayoralty candidate Mélanie Joly, who headed the Quebec Advisory Committee for Mr. Trudeau's leadership campaign, is a shoo-in if she wins the Montreal riding of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, as is former astronaut Marc Garneau in Westmount-Ville-Marie.

Michèle Audette, an Innu women's-rights activist, is running in Terrebonne. Anju Dhillon is a Sikh lawyer who is doing well in the riding of Dorval.

Both of these candidates would contribute to the ethnic diversity of a Trudeau cabinet, another important criterion, which is one reason why Emmanuel Dubourg, a former member of Quebec's National Assembly who was born in Haiti and is running for re-election in Bourassa, would likely have "Honourable" before his name in a Trudeau government.

Any Liberal elected in a Prairie province is a strong contender for cabinet. One prominent Liberal candidate in the region is Jim Carr, a former provincial MLA and president of the Business Council of Manitoba, who is running in Winnipeg South Centre.

Another is Kent Hehr, a lawyer and former Liberal MLA who is campaigning strongly in Calgary Centre. Mr. Hehr, who was left paralyzed in 1971 in a drive-by shooting, has been a prominent advocate for the rights of the disabled.

In British Columbia, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the former mayor of West Vancouver, would be a strong contender for cabinet if she can win in the exotically named West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country.

Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former Crown attorney and senior figure in the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, is running in Vancouver-Granville. And Joyce Murray, a former environment minister when Gordon Campbell was premier, should do well in Vancouver Quadra.

Other strong Liberal B.C. candidates include Harjit Sajjan, a former police officer who did three tours of duty for the Canadian Forces and is running in Vancouver South, and Sukh Dhaliwal, a businessman and former MP who is running in Surrey-Newton.

The Liberal bench is particularly deep in Ontario. It includes: Bill Blair, the former Toronto chief of police who is running in Scarborough Southwest; Andrew Leslie, the former lieutenant general who is running in the Ottawa riding of Orleans; Chrystia Freeland, a former prominent journalist and adviser to Mr. Trudeau who is seeking re-election, this time in the new riding of University-Rosedale; and Navdeep Bains, another Trudeau adviser and a former MP who is hoping to get back into the House, this time in Mississauga-Malton.

Other serious Ontario contenders include Bob Bratina, the former mayor of Hamilton who is running in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek; Bill Morneau, a business executive who is contesting Toronto Centre, and Adam Vaughan, the former journalist and city councillor who is hoping to return to Parliament, this time in the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York.

Dominic LeBlanc, the veteran MP who is seeking re-election in the New Brunswick riding of Beausejour, is a close friend of Mr. Trudeau's and will certainly be in cabinet, while Hunter Tootoo, the former speaker of the Nunavut legislative assembly, is strongly challenging Conservative cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq in Nunavut and would likely be at the table if he succeeds.

There are names left off this list who are easily qualified to serve in cabinet. The fortunes of electoral war will decide who is actually available. There are two men for every woman in the list of the names above, so less prominent female MPs may have to be elevated to cabinet if Mr. Trudeau is to keep his word. (One way around that commitment would be to appoint numerous women to the junior roles of secretary of state.) Likewise, the need for regional balance can skew who makes it and who doesn't.

But all in all, this is a deep bench. Voters will decide whether Mr. Trudeau is ready to lead. But his potential caucus certainly appears ready.