Joseph Noss

Is “Canada’s Cabinet” #RealChange?

Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (bottom row C) poses with his cabinet after their swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie - RTX1URF7

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau began his term with a cabinet fit for his slogan; Real Change. After announcements of setting a gender equal quota of ministers within his cabinet, Trudeau was met with a lot of support. Strangely, there was also a lot complaints (usually from terribly oppressed white males) on the basis that the cabinet appointments would lack merit. Dissenters were quickly silenced when Trudeau’s cabinet strode in proudly on Wednesday, November 4th. When Trudeau was asked why his cabinet needed to be gender balanced, he responded with a substance-void yet powerful statement (something which Trudeau seems to have mastered) – “Because it is 2015”.

It is clear that Trudeau has ridden this wave of popular support straight into Parliament, showing his constituents that their support is not ignored. Trudeau’s views represent Canada’s, and consequently, so do his Cabinet’s. I laud Trudeau on his appointments: the first Aboriginal Minister of Justice, the first Sikh Minister of Defence, and the first gender-equal cabinet in Canada’s history. Yet this isn’t anything to talk about. As Trudeau said, it’s 2015. The time for the first gender equal cabinet was decades ago. Moreover, its absurd that we use these ministers’ ethnic or religious backgrounds to define them instead of their achievements.

Instead of the “First Aboriginal Woman appointed Minister of Justice” Jody Wilson-Raybould should be described as the experienced lawyer and proven leader she is. She implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after renewing relations with the BC government. She united fractured first nations tribes in order to create opportunities for native-provincial discussion. Raybould became a tribal chieftain, while working as a provincial crown attorney. Raybould is already leagues ahead of past Justice Minister Peter Mackay. Mackay, with no professional legal experience, marked his tenure as attorney general by instating mandatory minimum sentencing while deflecting any inquiries into the 1200 missing native Canadian women.

Jody Wilson-Raybould addresses the crowd with her co-chairs. Adam Scotti/Liberal Party;

Similarly, headlines describing the new Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan, should read “Most Qualified Defence Minister in the past 10 years is appointed”. In comparison to the past three conservative defence ministers (politicians who’s only experience in war is fighting the everyday moral battle that is working in a Stephen Harper government,) Mr. Sajjan is absurdly qualified. Mr. Sajjan fought in not one, but two wars (Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Afghanistan,) eventually winning the Meritorious Service Medal, the Order of Military Merit award, and becoming a commander of his own regiment.

This cabinet both externally and internally shows signs of the direction that Trudeau is going to take Canada. Externally, the media has painted us a picture of a diverse group of individuals, with clear signs of Trudeau’s (and Canada’s) liberal social values. However, as soon as one peers past the veil of media-propagated racial and gender equality, it becomes transparent what Trudeau’s ulterior motives are as he moves forward.