Trudeau’s diverse cabinet not a true Canadian portrait – Gagnon

While true, commentators sometimes miss the forest for the trees.

Compared to previous federal cabinets, the Trudeau cabinet represents progress. For example, the previous Conservative cabinet was only 30 percent women and the three visible minority members were only in junior positions (multiculturalism, sport, seniors).

I suspect that some of the gaps pointed out will be addressed when parliamentary secretaries appointed.

And Gagnon is also factually wrong: Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources is Jewish.

It would be interesting, rather than just carping on the sidelines, to come up with an alternate cabinet that would balance regional, gender, ethnic origin, and experience – not as easy as it sounds:

“A cabinet that looks like Canada!” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exclaimed as he introduced his ministers. But this was false on several counts.

A cabinet that includes no one of Italian or Chinese origin, a cabinet without Jews or Arabs, a cabinet without a single black person – while Sikhs (who comprise about 1.4 per cent of the Canadian population) hold four cabinet posts – is not a true portrait of Canada. Not that I mind. The last thing a modern government needs is a cabinet that would reflect the exact ethnic makeup of the population. That’s because it’s impossible to achieve: Ministers are chosen from a caucus that results from the vagaries of politics and doesn’t correspond to demographic reality. For example, the Liberals have only a handful of black MPs, two MPs of Chinese descent – and 16 Sikhs, reflecting the active interest of Sikhs in politics and of a pattern of block voting in ridings with a significant Sikh minority.

Mr. Trudeau also prides himself on having formed the first federal cabinet with gender parity. False again. It is actually built on gender inequity. The Liberal caucus counts 134 men and 50 women, meaning that at the outset, every female MP had roughly three chances more than her male colleagues to be appointed to cabinet. Shouldn’t gender equity apply to men as well?

Those who want the proportion of female cabinet ministers to reflect the female population should insist that the political parties present many more women in “good” ridings – ridings where they have a real chance of being elected. Then a prime minister would have a larger pool of qualified female MPs to choose from when forming the cabinet.

Source: Trudeau’s diverse cabinet not a true Canadian portrait – The Globe and Mail

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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