There’s been a lot written about the members of the new cabinet since they were sworn in a couple of weeks ago. Not surprisingly, not all of it is complimentary.
Trudeau has been questioned on everything from the experience of his new cabinet members — 18 of them are starting their first term as an MP — to whether it really meets his goal of gender parity, or even if gender parity was desirable in the first place.
Pundits can pontificate all they want, but as the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding; meaning that we won’t know how this cabinet is going to perform until they actually get going.
But what stands out for us in Trudeau’s choices is how often he chose real world experience over political “experience.” A good case in point is Harjit Sajjan, a retired lieutenant-colonel, decorated veteran of three tours in Afghanistan and one in Bosnia, and a former police officer.
That’s a lot of practical insight he will be bringing to the job of Minister for National Defence.
Like the balance with gender parity, the cabinet balances the new faces with familiar ones, like Ralph Goodale; over the course of more than three decades, he has held major cabinet positions in both Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin’s liberal governments.
Then there is appointing Jody Wilson-Raybould as Minister of Justice and attorney-general, perhaps Trudeau’s most inspired choice: the first aboriginal federal justice minister and just the third woman to hold the job, with six years as regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, and street level experience with the justice system as a prosecutor in Vancouver courts.
It’s far too early to speculate on what Wilson-Raybould is going to bring to Justice, but she is sure to bring a new perspective to one of the most important portfolios.
Likewise, we have to wait and see how this cabinet works together in running the country, but the potential is there for positive change.