Justin Trudeau unveiled his cabinet yesterday. Althea Raj writes that he's sending two distinct messages:
First, his policy focus. Gone are the ministers of digital government and middle-class prosperity (drawing less attention to failed benchmarks), replaced instead with ministers for mental health, housing, and tourism. Former Équiterre founder Steven Guilbeault becomes the country’s environment minister, while top performers — Jonathan Wilkinson, Jean-Yves Duclos, and Marc Miller — change roles to highlight the government’s attention on climate change, health, and reconciliation.
Second, more personal signals. Trudeau wants to be recognized for elevating capable women to positions of power. Despite the prime minister’s emphatic response that he intends to lead the Liberals into the next election, he wants the race to replace him as leader of the Liberal party to be a fair fight. He’s willing to reward performance and offer a chance at redemption. At the same time, Trudeau shows he can be callous, and has chosen to surround himself with friends — even lesser performing ones — who are close to him, or his chief of staff, Katie Telford.
And it appears that Trudeau has taken Elizabeth May's advice, appointing Steven Guilbeault to the environment portfolio -- and making Jason Kenney very unhappy. As well, "top performers — Jonathan Wilkinson, Jean-Yves Duclos, and Marc Miller — change roles to highlight the government’s attention on climate change, health, and reconciliation."
The appointment of Anita Anand to Defence sends another clear message. The culture in the military must change:
Anand oversaw billions of dollars in vaccine contracts with suppliers and the purchase of PPE. She was brought out on the campaign trail this summer to showcase the government’s handling of the pandemic. She will become the first female defence minister since Kim Campbell to lead the department — at a time when the Forces are rocked by seemingly never-ending sexual harassment and assault allegations involving the country’s top brass. Campbell was in the defence job for six months in 1993 before becoming prime minister, a feat Anand may hope to mirror (albeit on a longer timeline).
Justin is clearly considering his legacy. This cabinet will have a lot to do with that legacy.