Some pundits on the Right -- like Andrew Coyne and John Ivison -- have suggested that Justin Trudeau's promise of a cabinet based on gender parity is a mistake. But there is more to doing a good job than just competence. Life experience, Tim Harper suggests, is critical. And Trudeau's caucus contains an abundance of both:
As it is, the first Trudeau cabinet is likely to include a former general, an author and journalist, a city councillor who was a wrongly accused political prisoner in his native India, a doctor who spent years training physicians in underdeveloped Africa, an engineer and former astronaut, a former mayor and a specialist in aboriginal business and leadership, and an Oxford law graduate named as Quebec’s “up and coming” woman of the year seven years ago.
There are likely to be three former ministers, at least two aboriginals, a successful businessman, a former negotiator for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in East Timor and a quadriplegic who overcame a tragic drive-by shooting to become an Alberta cabinet minister.
People may have forgotten that, when Attawapaskat was in crisis, Stephen Harper sent in an accountant to fix the problem. It was typical for a man whose frame of reference is very narrow and whose life experience is extremely shallow.
And consider the backgrounds of several of the women who may be in Trudeau's cabinet:
Carolyn Bennett, a doctor, is a former junior minister in the Paul Martin government.
South African-born Joyce Murray is a former British Columbia environment minister, founder of a successful reforestation company in her home province and a federal leadership candidate.Kirsty Duncan, from Etobicoke North, is a medical geographer who served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Prize.On the East Coast, Yvonne Jones is young (47), has served in the Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet, was the provincial Liberal leader, and took out Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue in a 2013 byelection.Judy Foote served 11 years and held four portfolios in the Newfoundland cabinet. Both women are tough, as well, both having fought breast cancer.In Manitoba, MaryAnn Mihychuk is a geoscientist who held two portfolios in the NDP government of Gary Doer and was a trailblazer in the mining industry.Newly elected Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes reclaimed Jim Flaherty’s old seat. She was born in Grenada, was a volunteer at the Congress of Black Women of Canada, on the Ethics Board and Governing Council of the University of Toronto and entrepreneur of the year.
Maryam Monsef from Peterborough-Kawartha fled with her family from the Taliban in Afghanistan, is the first Afghan-born MP in Canadian history and co-founded a campaign that has raised over $150,000 for women and girls in Afghanistan. Anita Vandenbeld from the Ottawa-area has served in 20 countries for the United Nations development program and was a Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, her neighbour, Karen McCrimmon, is the first woman to command a Canadian Air Forces flying squadron, and Carla Qualtrough of Delta, B.C., is the former legal counsel for both the British Columbia and Canadian Human Rights Commissions — and, oh yeah, she was born visually impaired and won three medal at the Paralympics.
There are all kinds of possibilities when you're not running a one man show.