Skip to main content
editorial

Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the crowd outside Rideau Hall after the government's swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa, Nov. 4, 2015.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first cabinet is remarkable in its powerful symbolism and promise of real accomplishment.

The numerous selection criteria – gender, ethnicity, race, disability and more – added to the long-standing factors of language and region, had run a risk of creating a cabinet defined by political correctness. But Mr. Trudeau's actual choices show a wide, interesting range of real-world experience, even if there is some dearth of political experience.

A majority of the new cabinet are new MPs – even Bill Morneau, the Minister of Finance, for all his undoubted depth in business and economics, will have a steep learning curve.

The Prime Minister is a new cabinet minister, too. His choice of an extra portfolio, intergovernmental affairs, may work out well. Mr. Trudeau is an extrovert, willing and able to exercise his diplomatic charm, with a charisma very different from his late father's. Such qualities did not greatly abound in the Conservative government. With Mr. Trudeau as minister, federal-provincial relations may flourish, at least for a few years.

Some of the titles seem a bit odd. The Liberals are so eager to point out that they believe in science that they have appointed a minister of science (Kirsty Duncan), a minister of innovation, science and economic development (Navdeep Singh Bains) and a minister of the environment and climate change (Catherine McKenna), which is surely a scientific subject, too.

In the same vein, Canada's equivalent of an inner cabinet has changed from being called the planning and priorities committee to the committee on agenda and results, just in case we didn't know that priorities are meant to have results. Incidentally, this key committee is not remarkable for its gender balance.

But such verbal quirks should not diminish the significance of the quasi-inner-cabinet's composition. One member of the agenda and results committee is Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, a new MP from British Columbia who was the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations in B.C. and a former Crown prosecutor. Her place in cabinet cannot be attributed to tokenism, either as a woman or as an indigenous person.

Mr. Trudeau's cabinet, and the rest of the Liberal caucus, will meet many bumps in the road, but this moment offers some hope for Canadian politics.