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Justin Trudeau Sets A New Standard For White Male Privilege

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It is hard to imagine a more storybook rise to power than the ascent of our current Prime Minister. A charmed prince regaining his father's throne and filling people with hope for a bright new day. It is a story that is all too familiar to us as we learn at a young age that privilege and power are intimately connected.

But it does not end there. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has added faces to the story that are not found in our storybooks. Nor are they regulars in the houses of power and influence.

As I familiarized myself with the backgrounds of all those accomplished people that were recently appointed to cabinet, one thing rings true for many of the new faces. These are not people with the same connection to power as Prime Minister Trudeau. There is a former refugee, a former political prisoner and a turbaned Sikh war hero. These people were not born into power and privilege. Instead, their success was born from their own talent, accomplishments and hard work.

For arguably the first time ever, those select Canadians making decisions on our behalf are not there because of political favours, last names, or an ability to raise money.

Could this be the first truly merit-based cabinet in Canada's history?

Recent debate has centered around whether setting a quota for female cabinet ministers eliminates merit-based appointments. One has only to look at leadership positions in organizations across the country to see that despite talent, hard work and experience, women are not equally represented. This says nothing about representatives from immigrant communities and other marginalized groups. Clearly something else is wrong.

As power and privilege concentrate at the highest offices in our country, little room is left for the unusual suspects. We need white privileged men to play an active role in changing the status quo.

Prime Minister Trudeau has, to his credit, accomplished an elusive and noteworthy achievement by using his privilege to bridge the often insurmountable leap between merit and power. He made space for his colleagues who deserve to operate in that exclusive arena.

As power and privilege concentrate at the highest offices in our country, little room is left for the unusual suspects. We need white privileged men to play an active role in changing the status quo.

For that, he has my respect. This is an achievement that despite much advocacy, research and an endless pool of talent has not been realized in the backrooms nor front rooms of progressive and conservative organizations across the country.

Prime Minister Trudeau has, by example, demonstrated a new standard for white male leadership -- one that leverages privilege to make space for true merit. Over time, this has the ability to revolutionize Canada's power structures.

And may this example be echoed in every boardroom, backroom and leadership circle across the country.

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