New PM unveils cabinet that looks ‘like Canada’

Justin Trudeau’s younger, more diverse team comprises old-guard Liberal politicians and newcomers, half of them women.

Justin Trudeau has been sworn in as Canada’s new prime minister, appointing a cabinet that he says looks “like Canada”.

The 43-year-old Liberal party leader, who swept to power in a general election two weeks ago to end nearly a decade of Conservative rule, took the oath on Wednesday and promised big changes as he introduced a younger, more diverse cabinet.

Most of the new ministers are between the ages of 35 and 50, while half of them are women – in line with Trudeau’s campaign pledge.

Asked why gender balance was important, Trudeau’s response was: “Because it’s 2015.


“Canadians from all across this country sent a message that it is time for real change, and I am deeply honoured by the faith they have placed in my team and me.”

The new cabinet includes a mix of old-guard Liberal politicians with many newcomers.

Among them is Indian-born Harjit Sajjan, a former Canadian soldier and Afghanistan war veteran who was named as Canada’s new defence minister.

He was Canada’s first Sikh commanding officer and received a number of recognitions for his service, having been deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Sajjan, a lieutenant-colonel in Canada’s armed forces, will oversee an anticipated change in Canada’s military involvement in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Syria and Iraq.

Trudeau has said that Canada’s fighter jets will withdraw from US-led air strikes against the group. 

He has also promised to take in more Syrian refugees and restore Canada’s reputation as a peacekeeping nation, a contrast to the more aggressive international tone under Conservative leader Stephen Harper.

“Canada tends to go back and forth from multilateral, internationalist foreign policy, to one based on what Harper called a principled approach, more pro-Israel and involved in anti-terror measures,” Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, told Al Jazeera.

Sajjan will oversee an anticipated change in Canada's military involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq [Blair Gable/Reuters]
Sajjan will oversee an anticipated change in Canada’s military involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq [Blair Gable/Reuters]

“We’ll see a switch from that in this new government.”

Other newcomers in Canada’s new cabinet include Bill Morneu, a Toronto businessman who was named finance minister, and Jody Wilson-Rayboud, the justice minister, who is a descendant of First Nation Canadians.

But the new faces are not just limited in Canada’s cabinet.

The new parliament, which is expected to return in early December, will include 10 Muslim Canadians – the most ever – as well as 10 First Nation Canadians, also a first.

Trudeau has a busy agenda ahead, with four global conferences to attend, including the G-20 summit in Turkey and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies