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Trudeau's Cabinet Filled With Fresh Faces And Achieves Gender Balance

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OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau unveiled a 31-member cabinet filled with new faces, casting aside experienced Liberal old hands in his first move as prime minister on Wednesday.

Trudeau, who had promised gender-parity, appointed 15 men and 15 women to serve as his council of ministers.

At a press conference outside Rideau Hall, the new prime minister was asked why it was so important to achieve gender balance with his cabinet.

“Because it’s 2015,” he said, to laughs and cheers. “Canadians elected extraordinary members of Parliament from across the country and I’m glad to have been able to highlight a few of them in this cabinet here today.”

Trudeau called it an incredible pleasure to “present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada.” He said his team would work together to deliver on an ambitious plan for the country.

trudeau cabinet

The new prime minister vowed that openness and transparency will be central to his government, and that policy decisions will be based on evidence and information.

But he also signalled a clear shift from his predecessor Stephen Harper, who was often seen as having a one-man style of leadership. When asked about his promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of the year, Trudeau said he took a “big step” by appointing a team that will help him accomplish that goal.

“This is going to be a period of slight adjustment for a number of people in the political world in Canada because government by cabinet is back,” he said. “We are going to sit down, around the cabinet table, and talk about the solutions (we) need to put forward, what’s in the best interest of Canadians, and how we’re going to deliver on the promises Canadians quite rightly expect us to keep.”

When inevitably asked about his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, he said his dad would be pleased to see Canadians rally around the Liberal vision for the country.

“But my thoughts today — sorry Dad — aren’t mostly on him,” he said. “They’re very much on my own kids and the kids across this country that we’re going to work very, very hard to ensure they have a better future.”

Rookie MPs land key roles

Newly elected Toronto MP Bill Morneau, a multimillionaire known on Bay Street, is the country’s new finance minister. Morneau was executive chairman of Morneau Shepell, one of Canada’s largest human resources companies, which also administered pension and benefits plans.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau goes face-to-face with Finance Minister Bill Morneau at Rideau Hall. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Toronto MP and former journalist Chrystia Freeland, whom Trudeau recruited from New York City two years ago, is Canada’s new international trade minister.

Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion is the new foreign affairs minister.

Vancouver newbie Harjit Sajjan — a decorated veteran of the armed forces who earned glorious reviews during his time in Afghanistan — is the defence minister, while another newcomer and star recruit – Vancouver MP Jody Wilson-Raybould — was named justice minister. She is a past regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations and has worked as treaty commissioner and a Crown attorney.

There are 18 first-time MPs appointed to the cabinet. Among them:
  • Carla Qualtrough, a legally blind paralympian from Delta, B.C., who is the minister for sport and persons with disabilities.
  • Ontario family doctor Jane Philpott, who is the new health minister.
  • Ottawa MP Catherine McKenna, who will be in charge of mitigating climate change as Canada’s new environment minister.

catherine mckenna
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hugs Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Only six members of Trudeau’s cabinet have previous experience as ministers:

  • Dion (former Liberal leader, environment minister and intergovernmental affairs minister)
  • Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (former finance minister)
  • Treasury Board Minister Scott Brison (former public works minister)
  • Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett (former public health minister)
  • Immigration Minister John McCallum (former defence minister and veterans affairs minister)
  • Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (former minister of labour and solicitor general of Canada).

Women were favoured over male counterparts in regions such as Southwestern, Northern and Eastern Ontario, no doubt as a direct result of Trudeau’s promised gender parity.

Maryam Monsef, the 30-year-old democratic institutions minister and new MP from Peterborough, defended the practice.

“The more diverse your organization, your board, or, in this case, cabinet, the more it reflects the realities of the population we are serving, and that can only be a good thing,” she told The Huffington Post Canada Tuesday.

justin trudeau balanced cabinet embed only

In making his selection, Trudeau excluded other star recruits such as Toronto MP and former police chief Bill Blair, Toronto MP Adam Vaughan and Ottawa MP and former Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie. He also left out his Quebec organizer, Montreal MP Pablo Rodriguez.

Surprisingly, Trudeau chose not to reward Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, the only sitting caucus member who challenged him for the Liberal leadership. The new prime minister also chose neophytes over former Liberal cabinet ministers such as Hedy Fry, Judy Sgro, and Mauril Bélanger.

In total, he appointed three cabinet ministers from B.C., two from Alberta, one from Saskatchewan, two from Manitoba, 11 from Ontario, six from Quebec, one from each Atlantic province, and one for all the territories.

trudeau swearing in rideau hallA crowd looks on as Justin Trudeau and the MPs who will comprise his cabinet arrive at Rideau Hall. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Approximately 3,500 Canadians gathered on the lawn of Rideau Hall Wednesday morning to see Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau and his new ministers walk the long driveway to the swearing-in ceremony. The sky was blue, the sun was shining on a crisp fall day and free hot chocolate was handed out to onlookers.

Bernice Fitzmaurice and Irene Pulcine from Arnprior, Ont. waited several hours for a chance to see Trudeau. “We hope to get a selfie,” Pulcine told HuffPost laughing.

Sarah Nelson and Jesse DeSmit, two University of Ottawa students from Niagara Falls, said they came to be a “part of history.”

Monique Lugli and her sister Marie drove from North Bay, Ont. to attend. “[We were] really actively involved in the campaign and there is no way we could miss the crowning moment. We did it and we are here to celebrate,” said Lugli, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberal nomination in Nipissing—Timiskaming.

After addressing media, Trudeau took part in a Google hangout session with school children. He later chaired his first cabinet meeting.

McCallum, the minister responsible for following through on the Liberals pledge to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by years end, said the government would work with mayors to make it a Canada-wide project.

Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc announced Parliament would be recalled on Dec. 3. The speech from the throne laying out the government’s agenda will be presented on Dec. 4. LeBlanc said Trudeau hopes to pass his middle income tax cut before Christmas so it could can into effect on Jan. 1.

Most of the new cabinet ministers said they would wait to meet with their deputy counterparts before answering substantive questions.

The Huffington Post Canada has learned that Trudeau, in an unusual move, will make public the mandate letters he has written for each of his ministers, outlining their roles, responsibilities, and his expectation of them based on the Liberals’ platform promises related to their portfolio. Those letters are expected to be made public as early as next week.

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Prime Minister Trudeau's full statement on his cabinet:

Canadians from all across this country sent a message that it is time for real change, and I am deeply honoured by the faith they have placed in my team and me. Canadians chose a positive and optimistic plan for the future, and we will immediately begin implementing our plan for a strong middle class.

Today we have the pleasure of introducing the team of extraordinary Canadians who will serve in the new Ministry. This strong, diverse, and experienced team will serve all Canadians, and for the first time in our country's history, there will be an equal number of women and men around the Cabinet table.

Canadians expect to see their values and priorities reflected in their government, and we have listened closely to them. Canadians told us what kind of government they want, and we built the plan to make it happen.

We are committed to investing in our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. We will invest in job creation and broad-based prosperity to ensure every Canadian has a real and fair chance to succeed.

We will shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it is meant to serve. Openness and transparency will be our constant companions, and we will work to restore Canadians' trust in their government and in our democracy. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and applying the utmost care in the handling of public funds.

We will demonstrate national leadership and work with the provinces and territories to take real action on climate change and create the clean jobs of tomorrow.

We will further strengthen our great country with a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. We will fulfil our sacred obligation to Canadian veterans and their families, who have given so much in service to our country. We are committed to both the security and safety of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms. We will also reinvest in our cultural and creative industries and create an immigration system grounded in both compassion and economic opportunity.

Canada is strong not in spite of its diversity, but because of it, and we are committed to bringing new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. We also made a commitment to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration. Most importantly, we will be a government that governs for all Canadians and brings Canadians together.

We will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us, and together build an even better future for our children and grandchildren.

Here is the complete list, by order of precedence:

  • Justin Trudeau (Quebec) — Prime Minister, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Youth.
  • Ralph Goodale (Saskatchewan) — Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Lawrence MacAulay (P.E.I.) — Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Stéphane Dion (Quebec) — Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • John McCallum (Ontario) — Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
  • Carolyn Bennett (Ontario) — Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
  • Scott Brison (Nova Scotia) — President of the Treasury Board
  • Dominic LeBlanc (New Brunswick) — Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
  • Navdeep Bains (Ontario) — Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development
  • Bill Morneau (Ontario) — Minister of Finance
  • Jody Wilson-Raybould (B.C.) — Minister of Justice Minister and Attorney General
  • Judy Foote (Newfoundland and Labrador) — Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • Chrystia Freeland (Ontario) — Minister of International Trade
  • Jane Philpott (Ontario) — Minister of Health
  • Jean-Yves Duclos (Quebec) — Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development
  • Marc Garneau (Quebec) — Minister of Transport
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau (Quebec) — Minister of International Development and La Francophonie
  • Jim Carr (Manitoba) — Minister of Natural Resources
  • Mélanie Joly (Quebec) — Minister of Canadian Heritage
  • Diane LeBouthillier (Quebec) — Minister of National Revenue
  • Kent Hehr, (Alberta) — Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Catherine McKenna (Ontario) — Minister of Environment and Climate Change
  • Harjit Sajjan (B.C.) — Minister of National Defence
  • MaryAnn Mihychuk (Manitoba) — Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour
  • Amarjeet Sohi (Alberta) — Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
  • Maryam Monsef (Ontario) — Minister of Democratic Institutions
  • Carla Qualtrough (B.C.) — Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
  • Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut) — Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard
  • Kirsty Duncan (Ontario) — Minister of Science
  • Patty Hajdu (Ontario) — Minister of Status of Women
  • Bardish Chagger (Ontario) — Minister of Small Business and Tourism

With files from Ryan Maloney

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