Trudeau Era Begins in Canada With Rookies in Economic Roles

Updated on

Canada’s second Trudeau era has officially begun.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took power Wednesday and appointed Bay Street executive Bill Morneau as finance minister, along with a generation of younger lawmakers to industry, trade and environment at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa. He named 30 cabinet ministers in total, half of them women.

The ceremony marked the formal start of Trudeau’s government after the Liberal Party ended almost 10 years of Conservative rule in last month’s election, and Trudeau lived up to his pledge to bring change. He elevated new faces to key posts, split cabinet equally among women and men and froze out some of the longer-tenured figures in his party.

“Government by cabinet is back,” Trudeau told reporters after the ceremony, adding that he wants to recall parliament in early December.

Canada’s 23rd prime minister takes power with an ambitious agenda of deficit spending, bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees and attending four international summits, much of it before the end of the year.

House Leader Dominic Leblanc told reporters in Ottawa the government will recall parliament on Dec. 3, set out an agenda the next day and move ahead immediately with plans to raise taxes on the highest earners to fund a middle class tax cut.

Trudeau also pledged Wednesday “to take real action on climate change” ahead of the Paris summit at the end of this month. The Liberals say they intend to put a price on carbon, with the details to be sorted out with provinces and territories.

Deficit Spending

Trudeau has promised to run a budget shortfall of no more than C$10 billion in 2016-2017, and a total of C$25 billion in deficit spending over three years before returning to balance in

2019. His first budget is expected early in the new year.

Chrystia Freeland, 47, a former business journalist who first ran for office in 2013, was named as trade minister and will inherit the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement recently agreed to by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. Freeland will also chair a cabinet subcommittee on Canada-U.S. relations.

Navdeep Bains, 38, was appointed the newly re-branded minister of innovation, formerly Canada’s industry ministry. Catherine McKenna, 44, a rookie lawmaker from Ontario, is environment minister, while Melanie Joly, 36, another first-time lawmaker, becomes heritage minister, a file that traditionally includes regulation of the nation’s broadcasters.

Jim Carr, 64, a former provincial lawmaker from Manitoba, becomes natural resource minister, point-figure on shepherding new approval processes for major pipeline projects. Trudeau has said such projects will only win approval with boosted environmental performance and more efforts to win local support.

Key Committee

Former Liberal leader Stephane Dion was appointed minister of foreign affairs, while Judy Foote was name minister of public services and procurement. Including Trudeau himself, the cabinet includes 16 men and 15 women.

Trudeau’s closest advisers, those to receive seats on the “Cabinet Committee on Agenda and Results” setting the government agenda, include Bains, Morneau, Freeland, Joly, Foote, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, House Leader Dominic LeBlanc, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos and Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan.

Gender Parity

His cabinet is the latest in Canada, and the first federally, to feature equal numbers of women and men.

“I think it’s very significant for the country, clearly, in the context of a House of Commons that’s still predominantly male,” Nancy Peckford, executive director for Equal Voice, an advocacy group promoting women in politics, said of the Trudeau pledge. “I don’t think he’s compromising on talent. I don’t think he’s compromising on other forms of diversity.”

Trudeau, the eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, entered the Canadian election in third place, only to leapfrog Harper’s Conservatives and the New Democratic Party, Canada’s other major political party, which led in polls early in the campaign.

“My thoughts today -- sorry dad -- aren’t mostly on him. They’re very much on my own kids, and on the kids across this country,” Trudeau said, pledging to “work very, very hard to ensure they have a better future.”