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Politics Trudeau will appoint cabinet of ‘actual deciders’

Justin Trudeau will appoint his first cabinet on Nov. 4, saying it will be smaller and comprise ministers with increased authority to implement what he calls his "concrete and ambitious" agenda.

Mr. Trudeau, whose party surged to a majority government on Monday, insisted he will continue to have close contacts with the Canadian public – entailing a looser security detail than Stephen Harper enjoyed – promised to hold more media availabilities and said he was already on friendly terms with U.S. President Barack Obama, with whom he spoke on Tuesday. Mr. Trudeau said he has also spoken to the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Mexico.

With slightly more than two weeks before the swearing-in of his cabinet, Mr. Trudeau says he wants a different type of cabinet minister in his government, adding he would respect his commitment to appoint an equal number of men and women.

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"One of the things Canadians expect is a cabinet filled with people who are not just representatives of their ministries and departments, but actual deciders," said Mr. Trudeau, who didn't provide a precise timeline to recall Parliament, stating it would happen "as quickly as reasonable," or say when details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal would be released.

The Liberal Party's return to the corridors of power has been in the works for weeks, with Mr. Trudeau's transition team headed by former bureaucrat Peter Harder. Mr. Harder has served as deputy minister in a number of departments, including Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The team also includes Mr. Trudeau's chief of staff Cyrus Reporter and his top two advisers, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford. A Liberal official said Mr. Harder had been laying the groundwork for the transition during the election campaign, acting as the main contact between the Liberal Party and the federal bureaucracy.

At his first news conference in his new role, Mr. Trudeau offered some personal reflections, saying he was thinking more of his three children than his father one day after his victory.

"Today I'm thinking a lot more about Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrian," he said. "I'm very proud of my father and what he accomplished, but I understand that the job I have to do today and in the years to come has to be based on the current and future needs of this country."

Mr. Trudeau said when he became an MP in 2008, he thought first and foremost about his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

In his conversation with Mr. Obama, Mr. Trudeau said the President joked that his Canadian counterpart was about to quickly grow some grey hairs.

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Still, Mr. Trudeau said the two focused on serious matters, including the Liberal promise to pull Canada's CF-18s from the current bombing mission in Iraq and Syria.

"He understands the commitments I've made around ending the combat mission," he said. "We'll be moving forward with our campaign commitments in a responsible fashion."

There was also a general discussion about Canada's environmental agenda that, Mr. Trudeau suggested, could help persuade the U.S. administration to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

"I look forward to demonstrating that we have a Canadian government – now – that understands the way to build a strong economy is to protect and defend our environment at the same time," Mr. Trudeau said.

"One of the things that has challenged the relationship between Canada and the United States is it has, in many cases, focused on a single point of potential disagreement, a single pipeline. I made a point of staying much broader than that."

He said one of the challenges will be to set up his government as he deals with a number of international summits. He made a commitment to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in late November and early December, when he would lead a delegation of premiers to present Canada's commitment to the fight against greenhouse gases. He declined to set a specific target or a concrete proposal to bring to the conference.

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"I will be engaging the premiers in coming weeks to establish a strong position for Canada so that people know that Canada's years of being less than enthusiastic on the climate-change file are behind us," Mr. Trudeau said.

The incoming prime minister said he would like to attend the G20 Summit in Turkey and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in the Philippines in mid-November, but wouldn't make a formal commitment.

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