John Ivison: With cabinet shuffle in the offing, Trudeau again set to play gender card

If August is the Sunday of summer, mid-July is the Saturday, when there are still chores to be done before you can lose track of what day of the week it is.

For the Liberals, that is likely to mean a cabinet shuffle next week to put in place the front bench team they will take in to the election.

For the prime minister this offers the happy prospect of burnishing his feminist credentials after recent local difficulties involving allegations he groped a woman 18 years ago.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Patty Hajdu after being sworn in as the Minister of Labour during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017.

This shuffle might not have the same carnival mood that greeted Justin Trudeau as he left Rideau Hall, flanked by his gender-balanced cabinet, after the last election. His explanation for the balance — “because it’s 2015” — encapsulated the kinder, sunnier change of direction the country had just taken. Supporters maintain the “cabinet that looks like Canada” — an equal number of men and women, not to mention a cohort of turban-wearing Sikhs, a former Afghan refugee and an Indigenous justice minister — will prove to be one of Trudeau’s lasting legacies.

But the halo has slipped, in light of the recent claims that he was guilty of some unwanted touching at a music festival in British Columbia nearly 20 years ago — an allegation that would surely have seen him booted from cabinet, were he not the one doing the booting.

So there is every likelihood that the prime minister will return to the well next week and promote some young women, preferably those who also boost the “diversity” quotient in cabinet.

The problem, at least on the surface, is that there are few vacancies and as much as the prime minister might like to retire one or two of his underperforming ministers, the prospect of a second-term majority means they are less enthusiastic about the idea than he is.

It may be that one or two do not run again — there are rumours around agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay, but if he goes, he will be replaced by another Liberal MP from Prince Edward Island — and they are all men.

There are two potential vacancies: House leader Bardish Chagger is also small business and tourism minister; science minister Kirsty Duncan has been doing double-duty as minister for sport and disabilities since Kent Hehr was demoted after allegations of sexual harassment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, looks on as Chrystia Freeland Minister of Foreign Affairs, left to right, Patty Hajdu Minister of Labour, Maryam Monsef Minister of Status of Women, Franvßois-Philippe Champagne Minister of International Trade, Karina Gould Minister of Democratic Institutions and Ahmed Hussen is sworn in as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship are applauded after being sworn in during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017.

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Source:: Nationalpost – News


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