Women to Fill Half of Canadian Cabinet

Women to Fill Half of Canadian Cabinet Women to Fill Half of Canadian Cabinet

Justin Trudeau promised in June that half his Cabinet would be female if he was elected Canada’s prime minister. Today he gets the job and the women expect him to fulfill the promise.

Trudeau, 43, will be sworn in and announce appointments to about 30 Cabinet portfolios from finance to foreign affairs to fisheries, Bloomberg reported.

Among his ministers, normally chosen from members of parliament, could be former journalist Chrystia Freeland, 47, co-chair of his economic council; Melanie Joly, a 36-year-old lawyer and former candidate for mayor of Montreal; and Jody Wilson-Raybould, 44, an aboriginal lawyer from British Columbia.

“It’s a message to Canadian women—and young women in particular—that this world is about you,” said Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec who put women in half his provincial ministries in 2007. “You have to move beyond the old boy’s network.”

Trudeau’s “parity Cabinet” is a first in a country where women started voting in 1916, four years before similar rights in the US. It ends a centuries-old habit by leaders of large English-speaking countries, including the UK and US, to name men to a large majority of government posts.

France, Italy and the Nordic countries already have had parity Cabinets. Canada has been slower than others to elect women, ranking No. 50 last year in women’s government representation on the International Parliamentary Union’s list of 190 countries, down from 17th in 1997.

For Trudeau, a self-declared feminist who won a majority government last month in part by saying he would bring new voices to Ottawa, selecting a 50-50 Cabinet is not so simple.

First off, he’s choosing from among 134 men and 50 women Liberals MPs, so some longstanding male legislators will be left out. As well, the new gender division comes on top of existing Cabinet-making criteria for regional, linguistic and ethnic representation, including the practice of selecting at least one minister from each of the country’s 10 provinces.