Trudeau introduces diverse cabinet as he assumes office


Justin Trudeau took the reins Wednesday as Canadian prime minister with a cabinet that fulfilled his campaign pledge that half of his ministers would be women.

In last month’s elections, the 43-year-old leader of the Liberal party and eldest son of late Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau beat Conservative leader Stephen Harper, who had been prime minister for a decade.

Of the 30 members of Trudeau’s newly announced cabinet, 15 are women.

“It’s a historic day for women,” Sheila Copps, a Liberal party leader, told CBC. “Gender parity in the national cabinet is huge. It sends a great message to our daughters and sons.”

Joining Trudeau at Wednesday’s ceremony, where he was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister, were his wife, three children and mother, as well as previous Liberal prime ministers Jean Chretien and John Turner, according to The Globe and Mail.

The new prime minister’s cabinet includes a mix of old guard Liberal politicians with many newcomers.

Stephane Dion, who has held many influential positions in the Liberal Party through the years, was named foreign minister. Indian-born Harjit Sajjan will be defence minister. The Sikh Sajjan is an officer in the Canadian military and wears the traditional turban along with his uniform.

Newcomer Bill Morneu, a businessman, was named finance minister, and Jody Wilson-Rayboud, a descendant of native Canadians, is justice minister.

Trudeau has promised to run three consecutive annual deficits of a “modest” 10 billion Canadian dollars (7.8 billion US dollars) to kick-start the sputtering economy.

He must tackle passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, accommodate 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada and has vowed to end combat operations in Iraq.

The White House said that US President Barack Obama hopes to meet with Trudeau “at some point relatively soon.”

Regarding Canada’s role in the 65-member-coalition against the Islamic State extremist group, which holds large swaths of Syria and Iraq, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the US has “been pleased with the degree to which the Canadian government and the Canadian military has worked closely with the United States to advance our shared interests.”

“And we’re confident that that kind of relationship between the United States and Canada will continue under the leadership of President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau.”