Later today (and I will have comments tomorrow) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will unveil his cabinet. In an item on the CBC News website, TV host Vassy Kapelos explains some of the challenges of cabinet making in Canada. She talked with a couple of political veterans who both agreed that life is more complicated than it was for, say, Louis St Laurent or even John Diefenbaker (who (in 1957) put the first-ever woman (the estimable Ellen Fairclough) into a Canadian cabinet). Now, in addition to placating party stalwarts, Justin Trudeau must consider sex, age, religion, ethnicity and regional representation and, if there’s any room left, talent, too.
The Globe and Mail suggests that “The Prime Minister will unveil a larger cabinet next week in response to the regional divisions that were exposed in the recent election, in which the Liberals were shut out of Alberta, Saskatchewan and many rural and semirural areas across the country,” according to unnamed sources.
Another way of phrasing that is that: given a considerable smaller talent pool Justin Trudeau will promote more poorly qualified people to cabinet in order to meet the expectations of too many special interest groups to count. I expect to see some remarkably poor politicians retained in or promoted to cabinet. He may also have to find room for e.g. Adam van Koeverden, who is a wonderful athlete but has no other discernible talent, because he is a political “giant-killer,” having defeated (potential CPC leader) Lisa Raitt ~ political history suggests that giant-killers get big rewards. I expect Québec MPs, even dunderheads like Melanie Joly to get high profile portfolios. The CBC and CTV suggest, on social media, that François-Philippe Champagne will get Global Affairs vice Chrystia Freeland and that Catherine McKenna will move to Infrastructure.
Barring a huge surprise, like former Conservative MP Belinda Stronach being ‘promoted’ from the Conservative backbenches to the Liberal cabinet in 2005, as a reward for crossing the floor, or Liberal Industry Minister David Emerson deciding, after the 2006 election, that he prefered being a minister in Stephen Harper’s cabinet to being a backbencher with Paul Martin’s Liberals, I expect a weak cabinet because, in my opinion, the pool from which Prime Minister Trudeau must pick to be as shallow as any Canadian prime minister has ever seen.
There is some speculation that the prime minister will, in fact, reach out to an unelected former Tory premier ~ Allison Redford ~ and appoint her to the cabinet. It has been done before ~ General Andrew McNaughton in 1944 and Michael Fortier in 2006 both come to mind. Fortier was appointed tot he senate about three weeks after being sworn into the cabinet. Neither could win an election and both resigned from cabinet.
It’s not that there are no good people on the Liberal benches … the prime minister does have some well-qualified people, but he a lot more dross and many good people from 2015 refused to run in 2019 … there were ethical things, and so on.
More to follow …