SAINT-SAUVEUR, Quebec — In the waning days of the campaign, Trudeau did his best to convince voters in the Greater Toronto Area that he was a “progressive,” a term he rarely used to describe himself before. Be.
It was a term deliberately chosen to isolate as many NDP votes as possible, especially in Canada’s largest cities. It worked. Trudeau ran across the table in GTA.
Now, it turns on or off time in several key files that helped define progressive politics in Canada: women’s rights, climate, justice and minority rights.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan has failed miserably in tackling the issue of sexual misconduct in the Army. Women who came forward with courage have felt cheated. Senior military officers, some of whom are blown away by brooms made for others, have felt a depressing lack of respect from their civilian masters. Morale is at an all-time low and there is no excuse for continued failure now.
Trudeau has always been on a good game when it comes to his “gender balanced” cabinet, but as journalist Elizabeth Thompson pointed out shortly after the swearing in of his first government, women are actually outnumbered by men on average. They were paid less because they were limited. For more junior roles that paid less. Trudeau intended to give equal pay to all, but this could not hide the fact that women in his cabinet were placed at the bottom of the ladder of power.
- Read more: PM Trudeau to name new cabinet in October, Parliament to meet this fall
This is the right time to nominate a capable, independent woman for the job as Defense Minister. With Trudeau, “capable” is less of a problem than “independent”.
Ask Jodie Wilson-Raybould.
Unfortunate. Trudeau and his inner circle learn that his PMO can’t continue to try to control everything, then duck, as he did on the file of sexual misconduct, as it gets harder to move on. It’s a tall order but the talent is there. This would be a welcome, bold move.
Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson parroted the absurd line drawn by the Trudeau campaign, embarrassing himself by claiming he had to buy an oil pipeline because (wait for it…) Might be money! It was an insult to the wisdom of Canadians who care about climate change and who know it has been one of Trudeau’s greatest failures.
There is one person in Trudeau’s cabinet who can give him immediate credibility on climate change: Heritage Minister Steven Gilbault. Gilbolt has an excellent reputation as an environmentalist who knows the file, knows the players, knows what to do and can’t buy.
His appointment will create some ripples in the oil patch, there is no question about that. But, hey, even conservatives took to a platform that supported the need to reduce greenhouse gases and get results to fight climate change. Six years later, Trudeau has the worst record at the G7 and we’ve seen that every year he’s been there greenhouse gases have increased. As former Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Julie Gelfand underlined, we had no plans to meet our Paris obligations.
The time for bluffing and emotional is over. Canada has to be serious, Trudeau has to be serious. He has an amazing plan to build, he just has to start implementing it.
Gilbolt will get the job done, but he won’t accept being a potted plant, no matter how green it is.
Minority rights are under attack in Canada and we all remember strong justice ministers like Irwin Kotler for whom ensuring respect for human rights was a lifelong business.
When Wilson-Raybould took a strong stand against Trudeau for alleged interference in the prosecution process and eventually left, a “call for tenders” must have erupted from the PMO: to find a lawyer we would ask him to do.
David Lametti found his way into cabinet. By all appearances, he has always followed the political decisions of the PMO on matters involving charter rights in Quebec.
When Muslim women had to go to court to fight Quebec’s Bill 21 and get the right to become a teacher even when wearing a hijab, they were left to fend for themselves. In the past, Canada’s Minister of Justice, in his role as Attorney General, was there to fight for and defend rights in these defined cases. Not Lametti. He is standing on the edge and it is painful to watch.
Another Quebec law, Bill 96, is currently being studied in Quebec City. Lametti claims that the law has legal opinion to remove the parity of English and French and to support Quebec’s right to unilaterally amend the BNA Act before the courts in Quebec. They refused to release it and I don’t think it exists. As a senior Trudeau cabinet minister told me, they know the bill is clearly unconstitutional, but are afraid to fight Quebec Premier François Legault.
Trudeau would continue to drop the rights files in the face of liberals’ adherence to the Charter.
Trudeau has a spotty track record on progressive issues. He was re-elected on the promise of being truly progressive. Forming his new cabinet would be his first real test.
Tom Mulcair was the former leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada between 2012 and 2017.