Trudeau sworn in, with diverse team
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau named a young, ethnically diverse and gender-equal Cabinet on Wednesday as he was sworn into office as Canada’s 23rd prime minister, marking the end of nearly a decade of Conservative rule.
Trudeau, 43, kicked off his majority government with some controversy with his decision to name an equal number of men and women to a slimmed-down Cabinet, the first time gender parity has been achieved in Canada’s team of ministers.
The Cabinet, 30 ministers plus Trudeau himself, included rookie politician and corporate executive Bill Morneau as finance minister and former Liberal leader Stephane Dion as foreign minister, a split between the old and the new reflected in the rest of the team.
“It’s an incredible pleasure for me to be before you here today to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada,” Trudeau told reporters after he was sworn in with his team, which includes immigrants, aboriginals, religious minorities, a quadriplegic and 15 women.
Trudeau, the first son of a prime minister to take office in Canada and the second-youngest in the country’s history, has grabbed international attention for his good looks and retail approach to politics.
Asked why he felt gender equality in the Cabinet was important, Trudeau said simply: “Because it is 2015.”
Trudeau has already laid out the major planks of his economic plan, which includes running three years of budget deficits, boosting infrastructure spending in a bid to stimulate Canada’s flagging economy.
The new government has also pledged to raise taxes for the richest Canadians and cut taxes for the middle class.
The ceremony officially ended nearly decade of Conservative rule under Stephen Harper.
Cheering crowds lined the approach to the Governor General’s residence where the swearing-in ceremony took place as Trudeau threw open the venue to the public. Organizers estimated about 4,000 people attended.
He was accompanied by his wife and their three young children as well as his mother, Margaret Trudeau, who gave birth to Trudeau and his two brothers while his father Pierre Trudeau was prime minister.
The somewhat unexpected appointments of Morneau and Dion to two top portfolios was seen reassuring corporate Canada and international partners, given Dion’s deep experience and Morneau’s business background.
Morneau, 53, is a former corporate executive who also headed a major public policy think tank. He was elected to Parliament for the first time in the Oct. 19 election that brought Trudeau’s Liberals to power.
The Cabinet also included Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a Sikh immigrant from India, military veteran and former police officer.
But with much of the Cabinet new to politics, some said Trudeau risks opening the government up to rookie mistakes that could detract from his agenda.
“It seems as though the balance is tipped towards youth as opposed grizzled veterans, but to have a few there I think is important and helpful,” said Gerald Baier, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes a selfie wih the crowds outside Rideau Hall after the Cabinet’s swearing-in ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday.