OTTAWA— Gender, LGBTQ community, and regional diversity characterized the nine cabinet newcomers who walked down Rideau Hall’s driveway in the rain on Tuesday and left as newly appointed members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s front bench. .
The new faces appearing around the cabinet table include six women, two of whom are racialized. Two of the nine are members of the LGBTQ community, while Alberta and Atlantic Canada have also received new seats.
“It points out (that) hard work will be rewarded in the case of experienced people moving up, that gender diversity or gender parity is a pillar of this government and nothing is going to change, and that diversity … also it’s important, ”said Michele Cadario, executive director of Vanguard Strategy, who was deputy chief of staff to Prime Minister Paul Martin.
“You also have the new and the old, which is really important to balance the experience with the freshness, which comes from the election campaign.”
Former broadcaster and community leader Marci Ien received the portfolio for women, gender equality and youth, becoming the first black woman to hold a cabinet position since liberal Jean Augustine in 2004. The Toronto Center MP was chosen by first time for the Commons in a 2020 joint election in which she edged out outgoing Green leader Annamie Paul.
One of the youngest members of the cabinet, Brampton West MP Kamal Khera, has been tasked with overseeing the file concerning older Canadians. Khera will succeed Deb Schulte, who did not win re-election last September, as senior minister.
Elected in 2015, Khera attracted national attention multiple times during the COVID-19 pandemic, first for registering to provide telehealth services in her capacity as a nurse, and then for contracting the disease herself. She resigned as parliamentary secretary for international development in early January after revealing that she had traveled to Seattle following the loss of two family members, at a time when the government discouraged cross-border travel.
The new Minister in charge of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario is Markham-Stoufville MP Helena Jaczek.
Jaczek has a medical degree and previously served as Ontario’s minister of health and long-term care, as well as the province’s minister of social and community services.
Among other new female faces is Pascale St-Onge from Quebec, who becomes minister of sports and minister responsible for the Canadian Economic Development Agency for the Quebec regions. The Brome-Missisquoi deputy beat her Bloc Québécois rival by less than 200 votes, prompting a judicial recount before the Bloc yielded to the Liberals earlier this month.
St-Onge is also making history as the first openly queer woman in Canada’s federal cabinet. Previously, she was president of the Fédération nationale des communications et de la culture, where she addressed the challenges faced by the media and cultural sectors.
Joining the rookie MP at the cabinet table is Randy Boissonault from Alberta. The Edmonton Center MP returns to Parliament after being defeated by the Conservatives in 2019. Boissonault’s appointment as tourism minister and associate finance minister fills a notable gap in the cabinet: He is Alberta’s first MP in the cabinet since the liberals were excluded. from the province in 2019. As Alberta’s first openly gay MP, Boissonault previously served as Trudeau’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.
Along with Seamus O’Regan, now Minister of Labor, the St-Onge and Boissonault appointments make Trudeau’s third cabinet the one with the largest LGBTQ representation in Canadian history.
“This suggests that governments are finally waking up and realizing that diversity is not just about gender,” said Erin Tolley, Canada’s research professor in gender, race and inclusive politics at Carleton University.
“It also suggests to me that these kinds of appointments, perhaps, are no longer just symbolic appointments,” Tolley said, adding the caveat that all three also contribute to regional diversity within the cabinet.
Ontario aside, Atlantic Canada appeared to be doing well among the new appointments Tuesday, with Gudie Hutchings as rural economic development minister, joining O’Regan as one of two ministers representing Newfoundland and Labrador. First elected in 2015, Hutchings previously held various parliamentary secretary positions, including the archive she now heads.
New Brunswick MP Ginette Petitpas Taylor was also welcomed into cabinet once again, after she was removed from the health record in 2019. Petitpas Taylor is now Minister of Official Languages and Minister in Charge of Canada’s Atlantic Opportunity Agency .
Joining the group for the first time is Nova Scotia MP Sean Fraser, who takes over the immigration portfolio after being chosen as a cabinet candidate in previous years. The Central Nova deputy previously served as associate finance minister and, like Hutchings, has held various parliamentary secretary positions.
Fraser’s experience in those roles was rewarded Tuesday, Cadario said, as did former government leader Mark Holland, who became the new House of Government leader. The veteran Ontario MP, currently serving his sixth term, will now face the critical task of negotiating with opposition chamber leaders in a minority and pandemic Parliament.
“It has been there for a long time. He has always worked hard. He has always been a solid contributor to the team and today he was rewarded, ”Cadario said Tuesday. “That is a great message to the caucus that you will not be overlooked, that the time you put in really matters.”
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