The prime minister took more than 200 names from the pool of MPs from across the country who had volunteered to join his cabinet, and asked them to fill out paperwork that eliminated more than 300 people (including many MPs). The entire Cabinet has been vetted, and Trudeau selected 51 individuals. The announcement itself was received with excitement among the public and many top cabinet members are being touted as serious contenders for top jobs across Canada.
It’s hard to know what the nitty-gritty, cold reality will be like for any new Cabinet, but Canadians were well served by a symbolic infusion into one of the most staid facets of politics. For many Canadians, those potential candidates had not participated in daily political life, and the prestige of the office, the high visibility, the large constituency base, and most importantly, the lollapalooza power of the PMO have always eluded them. This injection of new blood into the parliamentarians’ lives, of national leadership, was a mission fulfilment of sorts. The desire to become prime minister should be a natural attraction for many, but the reality is that to win the top job the Canadian Liberal Party will still have to win an election, and Trudeau has announced no timetable for that event. In a way, this week was simply an introductory parade of subservient partisan members of the cabinet, albeit with a sprinkling of party stars among them. In reality, it’s only a month or so of intense push and pull in preparation for the next chapter in Canadian politics.
While the campaign always was a dream for many parliamentarians, it might now be more of a nightmare than a reality. The admission of gay MP and former Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison to cabinet still seems a small victory, but it does not change many other issues around LGBT rights in the country. Trudeau may have arrived in the House with what many saw as a great deal of freedom to carry out his agenda, but, like any politician, he has no plan of action without the threat of being blocked by parliamentary opposition. What little room there is for Trudeau may be just as he’s well known for his fire-and-brimstone style.
Likewise, the cabinet’s accent of identity politics will not be a panacea for that disappointment; it only served to reinforce an impulsive form of politics, and Trump-style tweets don’t feel like a voice for Canada. Politics is a lot more complicated than decorum – far more – than the juvenile “Me too” thing the Liberals tossed out. These appointments are coming, but the government can still do better. As we watch the Prime Minister pack the hard graft for the democratic process, let’s hope he makes a team up of professionals for the big plays.