DAVOS, Switzerland — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promoted gender parity on Friday at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, where four of five delegates are men.
His presence on a panel with Melinda Gates and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stemmed in part from the parity in the cabinet he named last year and his terse explanation for that: "Because it's 2015."
Trudeau said that before he was able to produce a cabinet with equal numbers of men and women, his party did a lot of work on social media, and through email to encourage women to run for Parliament.
He said the Liberals asked people to recommend female candidates and they followed up. He said he personally convinced some women to run, including Chrystia Freeland, now his minister of international trade.
He took aim at people who questioned his selections and argued that cabinet posts should be based on merit, not quotas.
"Once I displayed the cabinet, nobody talked" about merit, he said.
During an earlier event at the forum, Trudeau told a group of young people that he wanted the gender parity and diversity in his cabinet to be the norm in politics.
He said he hoped one day people wouldn't think of the makeup of his cabinet as a novelty after he was asked whether he made his choices for ``diversity's sake.''
"I look forward to a point where people don't notice the diversity in cabinet, or that it's 50-50 men and women, that it's just, yes, this is a government that looks like Canada and it will engage with Canada the right way," Trudeau said.
Still, he faced questions Friday about how much more Canada needed to do.
The World Economic Forum's annual report on the gender gap ranked Canada 80th out of 130 countries when it come to wage equality for women and 40th for the number of women in politics and key leadership positions.
"There's a lot of hard work to do and the first part is recognizing it," Trudeau said.
He said men need to be a big part of the conversation to come to a solution.
Trudeau then said that his wife, Sophie, had pulled him aside a few months ago and told him that it was great he was telling their daughter that she is equal to boys, but he also had to stress his feminist attitudes to their two sons.