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Christopher Flavelle

How Much Can You Fight Inequality? Canada's About to Find Out

The new government will test the limits of a progressive priority.
Who will rise to the occasion?

Who will rise to the occasion?

Photographer: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

On a recent snowy afternoon in Ottawa, Jean-Yves Duclos sat in his as-yet-undecorated office overlooking Canada's Parliament, reflecting on the limits of government. Until last fall, Duclos was an economics professor specializing in the use of public policy to reduce inequality. In November, he became the country's minister of families, children and social development; his new job is to execute some of what he previously theorized about. But very, very carefully.

"Trade, globalization, technology -- all of that has over the last decades favored in larger part the top earners," said Duclos, whose relaxed air, careful choice of words and surprisingly large pink boutonniere were simultaneously charming and vaguely patrician. "And that we can address in limited manners if you want to make sure that you're not hindering growth."