The sky didn't fall after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's first cabinet was sworn in this week – although a full 50 per cent of federal ministers of the Crown are now women. Luck was on our side. This time. But as we survey the aftermath of this traumatic week, namely a remarkably skilled and accomplished cabinet, one that balances new faces trucking in masses of exemplary, real-world experience with political veterans, it's never too early to plan ahead.
Gender parity in cabinet can strike at any time – well, any time that is not psychologically stuck in the 1950s – and, when something like this happens, the likelihood that it will happen again increases.
Gender parity may be our new reality. What we need to do is learn from what we've endured these past few weeks, and so I've penned this Equal Representation in Cabinet Survival Guide:
– Be prepared to stave off the impending communist revolution, which the threat of 15 or so women cabinet ministers can cause. Any time the subject of race or gender is raised, vast swathes of the political right will suddenly be stricken with an overwhelming need to talk about class, which they'll identify as the real problem. "People who look like me, but aren't as successful as me, how is that allowed to be a thing?" they will ask.
It was like a Magically Marxist button was pushed around here. If you hear lost, once-proud conservative pundits calling out: "Look, look! Tear down the corrupt capitalist system, let the proletariat have the means of production, but you don't need put all those ladies in cabinet," ask them if their never-before-expressed concern that people in lower income brackets have crooked teeth means they advocate a national dental-care plan.
This should be enough to break up the herd – but, as a last resort, enthusiastically endorse their apparent advocacy of universal daycare and free university education. Be careful, this has been known to cause stampedes.
– Gently suggest that now isn't the time for reversals of political and economic opinion. Buy them a beer. Recommend they blow off some steam by toppling a few statues, then head on home.
Steel yourself, you're going to hear the word "merit" a lot. All evidence will suggest that people who write about cabinet composition who have never used the word "merit" in association with federal appointments before will merely have been stockpiling that word in the event of a women-cabinet-minister crisis.
– Be understanding, remember that regional and language representation in cabinet have always been sound politics in this country, "qualifications" we'd be naive to criticize. Gender parity, equal representation of 50 per cent of the population, a demographic that didn't get to vote in federal elections until 1918 and, therefore may not have the same networks and role models inviting it into the political sphere, has brought about the apocalypse.
As a shortcut to explaining that gender parity and merit are not mutually exclusive – point to the qualifications of the current cabinet – and that eventually all parties will benefit from the inevit- able deepening of the political talent pool this simple gesture will engender, try telling any holdouts that men are from Mars, women are from PEI, and speak French.
Two words for anyone you come across gripped with panic over the destruction of our meritocracy vis-à-vis the Prime Minister's selection of ministers: Peter MacKay. If that fails, try "Julian Fantino." If that fails, try "Peter MacKay" twice more.
Do not consume the food of anyone you encounter claiming to be fine with the cabinet but decrying the Liberals' decision to announce their gender parity plan ages ago, when it might attract and benefit candidates, and serve as an explicit statement of the party's priorities.
These decriers clearly don't want any politics in their politics, lord knows what's in that shepherd's pie.
– Care for the actual wounded. Women you were convinced desperately needed to be saved from becoming ministers are just fine. Don't bandage them. Stop trying to put a tourniquet on Jane Philpott; it's not possible to cut yourself on being Minister of Health, a position for which she's dauntingly qualified.
In a women-being-equally-represented-in-cabinet emergency, too many people expend their energy worrying about these new ministers' imagined insecurities.
Retire to your bunker, and rest easy. There's a good chance that these women understand they're well-qualified to be ministers. Anxiety that, because of the quota, Jody Wilson-Raybould will never know if she was really fit to be Minister of Justice or her abilities tapped out at Crown prosecutor, member of the B.C. Treaty Commission and regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations is likely misplaced.
Thanks for your concern-trolling, pundits, but I'm pretty sure none of these women agonize over the possibility that they're in cabinet only to fill a quota and, if your stated opposition to the quota is that you will never know if they are qualified, seek shelter, somewhere that has Internet, and look them up.
– Always remember that, as a rule, the "you fail, in forming your policy, to take into account what a massive, insufferable, ignorant tool I am" argument is not as effective as you believe. Deploy only as a last result. Claim you were drunk.
Understand that women are generally pretty inured to accusations they're somewhere because of some mostly imagined quota. Our collective eye-roll over this accusation and many other things is what makes the Earth turn and that's why I am not Science Minister like Kirsty Duncan. Google her.
Frankly, certain men believing we're anywhere only to fill a quota makes a novel change from have them believe we're in the building because we're bringing someone a sandwich, are lost and can't find our way out, or are sleeping with the boss.
– Boil water. If, having examined the résumés of everyone in this cabinet, you still feel compelled to write a think piece about all the more qualified Andrew Leslies left out because of these women, plunge both your hands into that water. We can get through this together.