During his time involved in federal politics, Justin Trudeau has made it clear that he is a proud feminist. That stance has informed everything from the gender balance in his cabinet to policies like increasing paid leave for victims of family violence and the iconic new national childcare program.
But if he wants to cement his legacy as Canada’s openly feminist first prime minister, he will have to do something much more dramatic: resign.
It’s no secret that Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is well-positioned to take Trudeau’s job when it’s time for her proverbial walk in the snow. But it is the timing of that walk that will determine whether it truly positions the next Liberal Party of Canada leader for success or sets them up for the same kind of failure that Kim Campbell experienced in 1993. And whether Canada’s second female prime minister is Forced to use the failures of a male predecessor the way the former did, it will mean that Trudeau’s fine words on feminism were about brand more than faith.
You don’t have to hand over the job to Freeland, though. There are many other talented and capable women in your cabinet who could take on the top job, from Defense Minister Anita Anand to Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly, as well as those who used to be in your cabinet, like Catherine McKenna. But when he resigns, he should make it clear that his successor cannot be another man in what has been, for the Liberal Party of Canada, an unbroken line.
The idea of a leadership career that excluded men was sure to provoke howls of outrage and outrage from certain Postmedia columnists and conservative politicians, but the Liberal Party has a long-standing convention of alternation between leaders of English and French Canada, which remains intact to this day. Given that history, it would not be very difficult for Trudeau to start a new convention of alternation between male and female leaders.