Cabinet, Parliamentary Secretary and CPC critic comparison

Now that the parliamentary secretaries have been announced, I prepared this chart that compares representation of women, visible minorities and Indigenous peoples in cabinet, parliamentary secretary appointments and Conservative critic roles. Given the relatively small size of the Bloc and NDP caucuses, have not bothered to do the same as virtually every member of those two parties plays a critic role.

The Liberal commitment to a gender-balanced cabinet means that women are comparatively over-represented compared to their share of caucus. Conversely, and likely to balance caucus representation, women parliamentary secretaries are comparatively under-represented. The Conservatives, on the other hand, have compensated for their relative lack of women MPs by ensure that one-quarter have the higher profile critic roles.

For visible minorities, with the reference population adjusted to visible minorities who are citizens, the Liberals not only elected more visible minority MPs but have ensured that cabinet and parliamentary secretary representation is comparable to their caucus representation. The Conservatives have also chosen to highlight their visible minority MPs in their critic appointments.

For Indigenous peoples, the Liberals have slight under-representation in cabinet and parliamentary secretary appointments compared to the population and caucus.

In wake of blackface scandal, actual Black Canadians left in out-of-cabinet cold

Along the lines of the previous post, just phrased more sharply but more rhetorical and easier than reviewing the record and making specific criticisms or proposals:

Justin Trudeau doesn’t care about Black people.

In a post-blackface Canada, with a post-blackface prime minister, Black representation in the House of Commons, the Senate, and the judiciary—much less cabinet—remains abysmal, with only a smattering of chocolate in a sea of mayonnaise. After all of the ostensibly remorse-filled, Lena Dunham-esque apologies, peppered with activist language such as “intersectionality” and “privilege,” one would think Justin Trudeau would’ve learned something. He did not. It was all a ruse to get Black votes, only to shut them out of the important decision-making positions.

He continues to perform in blackface.

The 2015 election seated the most ethnically diverse House of Commons in Canada’s history: five Black MPs were elected, all Liberals, three of whom were newly elected. This election held the total steady, but with four Liberals and one New Democrat. Given that the Liberals usually elect the most Black candidates, and they were the ones caught in blackface, it is more incumbent upon them to practice what they preach. And preach they do. Like Kanye at Joel Osteen’s bible study.

After Time Magazine revealed who our prime minister was, the need to put this behind them was paramount. So what does one do when faced with the revelation of such racially heinous act? You call your Black friend. Enter Greg Fergus.

In the last Parliament, MP Fergus twice held the position of parliamentary secretary, first to the to the innovation minister and then to the Treasury Board president. In the wake of the blackface scandal, Fergus was called upon to do his duty and he did so with alacrity; his was the most prominent Black face imploring Canadians to forgive and move on. He even had the support of prominent cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, who stood by his side, nodding, at a press conference. It was a grotesque display of whiteness, to have a Black man tell other Black people how they should feel about the PM committing such a racist act, flanked by a white woman.

In that moment Greg Fergus made himself an agent of colonialism and allowed himself to be used as window-dressing, or the Black face of a scandal involving blackface.

And what did he get for it? Why wasn’t Fergus awarded a cabinet position like his white counterparts for his unwavering loyalty, especially as someone who has been in the Liberal trenches since he was a tyke (he was president of the Young Liberals of Canada from 1994 to1996)? Tap dancing for whiteness never brings prosperity, especially in the ignominious position Fergus put himself in.

But here is where Black people must take some responsibility.

After Trudeau was caught with his face singed, a private meeting was held between the PM and a myriad of “Black leaders” (whoever they are) to enact Part 2 of the apology tour. While it is not known all of what happened at this meeting, what we do know is that apologies were given, Trudeau was forgiven (by them), and Black people in the 905 and 416 subsequently came out to vote Liberal. Like Greg Fergus, these “leaders” allowed themselves to be used. And that is the problem with Black leadership in this day and age: they are too happy with the crumbs from Massa’s table and are too quick to give up the currency of political power—the vote. And what did these old wise men (and I do mean men) negotiate for the Black community in exchange for their continued votes? Not a damn thing.

And this is where Black people are: no currency, no power, no payoff. We sold out our negotiating power—along with our souls—by keeping that meeting private. The lack of transparency gave Trudeau an out. Since he didn’t have to be accountable to anyone, they got played, meaning the entire community got played.

However, all is not lost. Many of the strides made by the Liberal government came about due to an extraordinary amount of advocacy work done by Black organizations, and not because Trudeau cares about the plight of Black people. Within a minority Parliament situation, Black Canadians have more power and it’s time to toss out these old dudes who can’t figure out the cloud and add younger, more diverse leadership in the Black community—including women, LGBTQ, disabled, poor, and working-class people. We can lift others up instead of the few in Black “leadership” who only act as gatekeepers to power, while rewarding themselves.

Black organizations need to start seeing other people. Every party should be lobbied by Black advocates (except the PPC, because screw them) because loyalty to the Liberal Party has just gotten Black people to the back of the bus.

There needs to be a targeted lobbying plan to address the ministries who have a hand in policies that primarily affect Black people. These ministries need to be diversified and adjusted to benefit Black needs, Black aspirations, and Black dreams. And once these dusty Black leaders finally find the exit, the community may get somewhere because not all skinfolk is kinfolk.

Source: In wake of blackface scandal, actual Black Canadians left in out-of-cabinet cold

‘Disappointing’ cabinet picks show Trudeau still needs to address diversity ‘blind spot’, say advocates

It is always interesting to listen to the advocates. In 2015, if I recall correctly, the complaint was over representation of South Asians (four) and no Black Canadians. In 2019, the complaint is only one Black Canadian without really acknowledging the lack of representation of other groups (e.g., Filipino Canadians, Arab Canadians).

By my count, the current cabinet has four South Asians, one Chinese, one Black, one West Asian and one Latin American (formally speaking, Argentine origins are not classified as visible minorities but nevertheless are perceived as such by the Latin American ethnic media).

The above chart provides a breakdown of MPs by visible minority groups and party (no visible minority Bloc or Green MPs). South Asians form over half of Liberal visible minority MPs.

However, Caesar-Chavannes does acknowledge the geographic, gender and other constraints that are intrinsic in cabinet making.

Aziz, on the other hand, ignores the increased diversity among judges and GiC appointments which is more reflective of the government’s record.

And while I would. be the last to maintain that Cabinet representation is unimportant, I think it is more important to focus on the government’s accomplishments and commitments where the government has a decent record to build upon (e.g., appointments, the increased funding for multiculturalism and anti-black racism and associated initiatives).

Lastly, in terms of benchmarks, the percentage of visible minorities who are also citizens, and thus able to vote and run for office, is 17.2 percent, arguably a better benchmark to use than the total number of visible minorities (:

The latest cabinet picks were disappointing for some advocates of better representation for racialized Canadians in positions of power, including former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes who offered a plea to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demonstrate he is correcting an admitted blind spot.

She said that didn’t happen during the Nov. 20 cabinet shuffle, which saw one Black minister named among the seven visible-minority cabinet members, and one Indigenous MP receive a post after a seven-month gap since former justice minister-turned Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.) left cabinet in February last year.

Though Ms. Caesar-Chavannes said she understands it’s sometimes “a numbers game” with few elected to pick from—in this case four Black MPs in the Liberal caucus—she said Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) missed an opportunity and has yet to demonstrate through his actions that he’s addressing the damage caused in the wake of the racist images of him that emerged during the campaign.

Perhaps he thought naming a second Black MP to cabinet would have been “too obvious” or “fake,” but it would have “symbolized an understanding of the tremendous barriers that still exist within these communities,” she said, invoking Mr. Trudeau’s own assessment of his past decisions to don blackface and brownface, including as a 29-year-old teacher.

Former Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes says the prime minister has yet to demonstrate he’s learned from his past, but she’s still hopeful the government will address issues that affect racialized communities and address representation in positions of power. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

“Please pay attention to the blind spot that you said was created by your privilege and do something to correct it,” she said.

During his second attempt addressing the scandal on Sept. 19, Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) acknowledged “a massive blind spot” he said was born from his upbringing in “a place of privilege.”

Cabinet is only one area to address that, she said, and she still has hope the government will “do things differently.” That includes appointing more persons of colour to senior positions in the public service, and considering who is staffed in the inner circle. It’s “nonsense,” for example, that the government had only one Black chief of staff, Marjorie Michel, who was named in 2019.

Former Liberal foreign policy adviser Omer Aziz, who wasn’t available for a phone interview, offered a blunt assessment of the cabinet over email.

“White men at Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Justice. White men in the inner circle. An overwhelmingly white political staffer class. But there’s not even a pretence of genuine diversity anymore, which I suppose is a positive development since we can all stop pretending,” he wrote, noting it’s “sobering” to think that the Conservatives “would be even worse, but I still believe we can do a lot better.”

Mr. Aziz has been critical of the Liberal government since leaving in January 2018, saying he constantly felt “sidelined” in discussions during his time, and that minority staff voices in government, in general, were not being empowered and listened to.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s late-campaign endorsement “was determinative to Trudeau’s victory,” added Mr. Aziz, but the former president also had a Black attorney general, national security adviser, and homeland security secretary. “Perhaps [Mr.] Trudeau could learn something from the former president about representation and power.”

While this cabinet wasn’t a repeat of 2015, when no Black MPs were named, Black Vote Canada’s Velma Morgan said she was “extremely disappointed” that Families, Children, and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen (York South–Weston, Ont.) remains the only Black minister.

The United Nations Decade for People of African Descent (UNDPAD) Push Coalition, which advocates for Black people living in Canada and was created to push for budget commitments to that effect, has said the cabinet choices leaves it questioning the Liberal government’s commitment to improving the lives of Black Canadians.

“Our community is not monolithic. We can’t have just one person speaking on behalf of us,” said Ms. Morgan, echoing the call for better representation to occur in the federal service and political staffer class.

Proportionality is not enough to address inclusion: LeMay 

In 2015, Mr. Trudeau declared the creation of “a cabinet that looks like Canada,” but several who spoke with The Hill Times said that’s still not the case. The seven visible-minority MPs represent 19.4 per cent of the cabinet, compared with 22.3 per cent of the Canadian population that identifies that way. He also named one Indigenous person, or 2.7 per cent of cabinet. The Indigenous population of Canada is closer to five per cent. Over Mr. Trudeau’s first four years in office, he appointed seven racialized and two Indigenous MPs to his cabinet. Under former prime minister Stephen Harper’s nearly 10 years, he appointed five visible minority and three Indigenous cabinet ministers.

Of the 61 visible minority and Indigenous MPs elected on Oct. 21, 44 are in the Liberal caucus and the only demographic (of those elected in the Liberal caucus) not represented in cabinet are MPs of Arabic descent.

The cabinet includes four women of colour: Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade Mary Ng (Markham–Thornhill, Ont.), Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand (Oakville, Ont.), who became Canada’s first Hindu minister, and Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef (Peterborough–Kawartha. Ont.), who became Canada’s first Muslim minister in 2015. Cabinet veterans Families Minister Ahmed Hussen  (York South–Weston, Ont.), Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.), and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains (Mississauga–Malton, Ont.) were also reappointed.

All but Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal (Saint Boniface-Saint Vital, Man.)—who is Métis and the lone Indigenous person in cabinet—and Mr. Sajjan are from Ontario in a cabinet that is skewed toward Canada’s biggest provinces, with 11 in Quebec, and 17 in Ontario.

“Our politics suffers from the lack of proportional representation and this cabinet is an example of that,” said Anita Singh, a Canadian political analyst and expert in Indian diaspora politics, noting the one Asian, one Black, and one Indigenous minister, though all three communities “are much larger and much more diverse than the cabinet shows.”

From an inclusion standpoint, one is never enough, said Rose LeMay, CEO of the Indigenous Reconciliation Group, who also writes a column for The Hill Times.

“Too often, in an inclusion debate, when there’s only one person of colour or a different culture, that person unfortunately becomes just becomes a token,” she said. “We will need more than just proportional around the table. We need our voice to be heard strongly and that will not occur even if we have a similar number around the table—we actually would need more to make the change that we need to see.”

That only one of the six Liberal Indigenous MPs were named to cabinet is concerning, but not surprising, she said, especially after a campaign that “hardly touched on reconciliation.”

Given Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s experience and journey trying to “maintain her credibility,” both with First Nations across Canada and in cabinet, Ms. LeMay suggested a role representing the Crown carries “a significant risk” for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit MPs.

“I wonder how difficult that would be for an Indigenous [person] in cabinet, how to maintain, with integrity, both of those roles,” she said.

‘Top-tier’ posts not given to people of colour

The most frustrating part of this cabinet for Ms. Singh is the posts persons of colour take on, she said, echoing Mr. Aziz’s issues.

All but one of the “top-tier” posts—finance, foreign affairs, trade, environment, justice, defence—remain with a white minister. Some contended Mr. Sajjan at defence, though a big file, isn’t as high-profile.

Similarly, there are gaps in portfolios that control the purse strings and involve “high-profile policy making,” like health, transport, and infrastructure, she said.

“We also see that Trudeau continues the tradition of putting inexperienced visible minority MPs in some of the toughest files and under-appreciated files,” she said pointing to rookie Ms. Anand, where she will oversee the Phoenix pay debacle and fighter jets procurement file, in concert with National Defence. Ms. Monsef, initially in charge of democratic reform in the last Parliament, was an example of that in Mr. Trudeau’s first cabinet, she said.

Others, like Ms. Morgan, don’t see it that way, saying a seat at the table is what’s most important.

Though some have viewed Mr. Hussen’s move from Immigration to Families as a demotion (an assessment he disagreed with at the swearing-in), Ms. Caesar-Chavannes pushed back and said she sees it as a high-impact post that directly affects racialized communities.

Angela Wright, a political analyst and former Conservative staffer, saw the move as a red flag and said she’s “not very optimistic” with the cabinet choices, especially given the Immigration and Public Safety portfolios—two files that disproportionately affect racialized people—are overseen by white men.

It was “shocking” to see Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest, Ont.) elevated to Public Safety Minister, added Ms. Wright, given his reputation in the community from his time as Toronto’s police chief, where he defended the service’s use of carding.

“That’s a very odd choice,” she said, while Ms. Singh said it’s “continually frustrating that his cabinet does not reflect the actual needs of the communities that require them the most—immigration, Indigenous services, even international trade—continue to be held by MPs that do not come from communities of colour.”

Ms. Singh also noted the regional breakdown, saying it suggests the Liberals are “playing from a 1990s playbook,” targeting “ethnic neighbourhoods” to recruit candidates, but not giving the successful MPs a voice in leadership positions, she said, pointing to Brampton and Scarborough in Ontario, and Surrey, B.C. Compare that to Toronto city ridings “as a microcosm,” where she said there were no people of colour on the Liberal roster, with white MPs in Davenport, Danforth, Spadina–Fort York, Toronto Centre, Beaches–East York, and Toronto–St. Paul’s in a city where 50 per cent of all people are visible minorities.

Source: ‘Disappointing’ cabinet picks show Trudeau still needs to address diversity ‘blind spot’, say advocates

« Parce qu’on est en 2019 » : où en est-on avec la parité en politique?

A history of gender parity in cabinet making and how it has been portrayed:

Le 20 novembre, le premier ministre Justin Trudeau va nommer son nouveau cabinet, qu’il promet paritaire, comme le premier qu’il a formé en 2015.

Les femmes sont minoritaires tant à la Chambre des Communes que dans toutes les chambres législatives des provinces et territoires. Pour y pallier, la nomination de conseils des ministres paritaires, c’est-à-dire composés d’autant d’hommes que de femmes, s’est répandue. Bien qu’elle ne soit pas un phénomène nouveau au Canada, cette parité n’est toujours pas la norme.

C’est Jean Charest, alors premier ministre du Québec, qui a lancé le bal en 2007, en nommant le premier conseil des ministres paritaires du pays. Rachel Notley (Alberta, 2015), John Horgan (Colombie-Britannique, 2017) et François Legault (Québec, 2018)ont également répété l’exercice.

Sur la scène fédérale, la nomination du premier conseil des ministres composé d’un nombre égal de femmes et d’hommespar Justin Trudeau en 2015 avait fait grand bruit. La phrase « Parce qu’on est en 2015 » donnée en réponse à des journalistes qui voulaient connaitre les raisons derrière cette décision a d’ailleurs été reprise un peu partout à travers le monde.

Nous avons cherché à mieux comprendre les différents arguments déployés dans les médias à l’annonce de cabinets comptant un nombre égal d’hommes et de femmes. La couverture médiatique est généralement favorable à ces annonces, mais elle donne également à voir un certain nombre de réticences à l’égard des mesures visant à soutenir un meilleur accès des femmes au sein de la sphère politique.

Un portrait généralement positif

Les articles et chroniques qui abordent la composition paritaire des conseils des ministres mettent de l’avant le côté historique de l’annonce ou la présentent comme le reflet d’une société et d’une époque où l’inclusion et l’égalité sont des valeurs importantes.

L’espoir de voir une nouvelle norme s’instaurer à la suite de l’annonce du cabinet Charest, en 2007, est également très présent : « La parité entre hommes et femmes est un exploit, une première en Amérique du Nord, qui mettra de la pression sur les autres gouvernements du Canada, le fédéral en particulier », écrit le chroniqueur Michel Vastel le 19 avril 2007.

Que ce soit dans le cadre d’articles, de chroniques ou de lettres d’opinion, différentes stratégies de persuasion visent à présenter la parité et ses mesures d’implantation comme bénéfiques pour la société : recours à des statistiques sur le nombre d’élues, exemples des stratégies mises en place sur la scène mondiale, ou évocation des impacts d’un plus grand nombre de femmes sur les prises de décision. La chercheure Véronique Pronovost, de la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand, de l’UQAM, écrivait ceci dans une lettre ouverte publiée dans Le Journal de Montréal, en 2015: « les études portant sur les conséquences de la parité au sein des organisations le confirment: que ce soit au sein des entreprises ou des instances décisionnelles, la parité engendre de nombreux bienfaits ».

L’appui ne se fait toutefois pas toujours sans réserve et les revendications pour des mesures plus durables, comme des lois ou un plus grand effort des partis à nommer une parité de candidatures aux élections sont également exprimées, principalement dans les journaux francophones.

Des avis contraires

L’engouement, bien qu’il soit majoritaire dans les journaux, n’est pas généralisé.

La compétence des femmes nommées dans le cabinet Charest avait été soulignée. Mais des craintes sur ces mêmes compétences ont été exprimées dans le cas de Justin Trudeau. Pour certains, c’est le premier ministre lui-même qui est à l’origine de cette controverse, comme on peut le lire dans cette chronique écrite par Mark Sutcliffe, dans The National Post : Justin Trudeau a mis l’accent sur ce choix prédéterminé en fonction de la parité au lieu de présenter son cabinet comme le résultat naturel de son abondant choix de gens talentueux. « Cela aurait fait plus pour les femmes occupant des postes de direction que de cocher une case de sa liste de promesses. »

L’idée selon laquelle parité et compétence ne vont pas de pair figure d’ailleurs au premier plan des contre-arguments évoqués, tous cabinets confondus. Des journalistes vont même jusqu’à dénoncer l’injustice vécue par les hommes qui, plus nombreux à être députés, ont ainsi moins de chances que les femmes de se voir confier un ministère. Comme l’écrit la chroniqueuse Lysiane Gagnon dans The Globe and Mail, « le caucus libéral compte 134 hommes et 50 femmes, ce qui signifie qu’au début, chaque députée avait environ trois chances de plus que ses collègues masculins d’être nommée au Cabinet. L’équité entre les sexes ne devrait-elle pas s’appliquer également aux hommes ? »

Une question de volonté politique ?

Le choix de nommer un nombre égal d’hommes et de femmes est également dépeint comme un signe de volonté politique, une façon de démontrer l’importance que le premier ministre accorde à l’égalité. En l’absence de règles ou de lois qui forcent les partis politiques à agir, il est vrai que les personnes qui en sont à la tête jouent un rôle important dans l’augmentation de la proportion de femmes ministres.

Au Québec, il a fallu attendre 10 ans avant de voir un nouveau premier ministre, François Legault, désigner un conseil des ministres paritaire (comme Jean Charest l’avait fait en 2007 et en 2008). Justin Trudeau a quant à lui annoncé durant sa campagne que son deuxième cabinet comporterait un nombre égal de femmes et d’hommes. Il lui aurait été difficile de faire autrement sans sembler renier les valeurs d’égalité et de féminisme qui ont caractérisé le début de son premier mandat.

How America’s anti-elitism might be creating a whiter White House – The Washington Post

Good analysis on the relative lack of diversity in the Trump cabinet, from a variety of perspectives:

As his Cabinet nominees were grilled by the Senate on the eve of his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump declared that “We have by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled!”

It’s a grandiose assertion, one that’s impossible to know. But by another metric, Trump’s nominees fall short: academic degrees.

As a whole, Trump’s picks to lead the nation’s government agencies have fewer advanced degrees than any first-term Cabinet in at least 24 years.

A third of the nominees in Trump’s 15-member executive team hold only a bachelor’s degree. A quarter obtained up to a master’s degree, and 40 percent achieved a law or medical degree. No one has a doctorate. Compare that to President Obama’s original Cabinet, which conservatives derided for being stacked with intellectual elites: Only two members held a bachelor’s degree alone. A third stopped their educations at a master’s degree, and more than half held doctorates, medical or law degrees — often from the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Certainly, education comes in many of forms. For some of Trump’s nominees, what they lack in classroom education has been made up for in relevant career experience. But there’s something uniquely important about schooling — it’s supposed to be America’s great equalizer, the traditional gateway to the higher levels of society. At least for people of color.

In 2008, it wasn’t lost on people that Obama’s nominated Cabinet was both loaded with academic credentials and among the most racially and ethnically diverse in history. Six of the 15 nominees belonged to minority groups, all of whom held advanced degrees. Obama himself has a Harvard law degree and was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. (Bill Clinton’s first Cabinet included just as many minorities as Obama’s, and it was even more educated, with all but one Cabinet member holding doctorate or law degrees.)

Trump’s Cabinet also happens to be the wealthiest in modern history — illustrating how it’s possible for some to reach the top without racking up college degrees. That level of success without years of advanced education is nearly impossible for black and brown Americans, say sociologists, economists and political scientists who study the link between race, education and achievement.

“Rarely will we find an example of an uncredentialed black person in an elite position,” said Darrick Hamilton, an economist at The New School in New York. “That black person is usually certainly qualified, if not overqualified, with regard to their education.”

The makeup of Trump’s Cabinet reflects a growing disdain in America for intellectual elitism and a distrust of scientific empiricism. Trump, the first president not to hold an advanced degree since George H.W. Bush, tapped into that sentiment in his unprecedented campaign by slamming the “Washington elite,” rallying against the “political correctness” often tied to academia, and misstating the facts on climate change and President Obama’s citizenship.

“As higher education has become more accessible to more diverse groups of people, the general population has become more distrustful of education and expertise,” said Tressie McMillan Cottom, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. “They think there must be something suspect about education, because how great can Harvard really be if someone like Barack Obama got there?”

“In this country, diversity has gotten tied up in the idea of a liberal academy,” she said. “The election of Trump is a critique and rebuke of that.”

Source: How America’s anti-elitism might be creating a whiter White House – The Washington Post

2017 Cabinet Shuffle

election-2015-and-beyond-implementation-diversity-and-inclusion-024The above chart contrasts the original 2015 Cabinet with the changes announced Tuesday by the Prime Minister (will update when parliamentary secretary changes are announced to replace those who were promoted to minister).

Gender parity remains, visible minority representation increases to 20 percent, no change in the number of persons with disabilities, with only one Indigenous minister compared to two in the original Cabinet (Hunter Tootoo was later removed).

The choice of a neophyte Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, is not without risk given the complexities and politics of the department’s issues (as Monsef’s difficulties attest).

Hussen is the third immigration minister to have been an immigrant, the first visible minority and non-European. (Joe Volpe, born in Italy,  and Sergio Marchi, born in Argentina but of Italian ancestry, are the previous ones). As most of Canada’s current immigrants are visible minorities, he will bring that perspective and experience with him to the portfolio, as well his experience on security and radicalization issues.

Like McCallum, his riding is majority visible minority (54 percent compared to McCallum’s 82 percent) but with a different mix: York South-Weston is 21 percent Black, 9 percent Latin American whereas Markham-Thornhill is 35 percent Chinese, 31 percent South Asian.

Look forward to seeing the mandate letters for Minister Hussen (and others) to see if any new commitments compared to former Minister McCallum (largely achieved or in progress – list below):

  • Lead government-wide efforts to resettle 25,000 refugees from Syria in the coming months.
  • As part of the Annual Immigration Levels Plan for 2016, bring forward a proposal to double the number of entry applications for parents and grandparents of immigrants to 10,000 a year.
  • Give additional points under the Entry Express system to provide more opportunities for applicants who have Canadian siblings.
  • Increase the maximum age for dependents to 22, from 19, to allow more Canadians to bring their children to Canada.
  • Bring forward a proposal regarding permanent residency for new spouses entering Canada.
  • Develop a plan to reduce application processing times for sponsorship, citizenship and other visas.
  • Fully restore the Interim Federal Health Program that provides limited and temporary health benefits to refugees and refugee claimants.
  • Establish an expert human rights panel to help you determine designated countries of origin, and provide a right to appeal refugee decisions for citizens from these countries.
  • Modify the temporary foreign workers program to eliminate the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers and work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families.
  • Lead efforts to facilitate the temporary entry of low risk travelers, including business visitors, and lift the visa requirement for Mexico.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.
  • Eliminate regulations that remove the credit given to international students for half of the time that they spend in Canada and regulations that require new citizens to sign a declaration that they intend to reside in Canada.

Mr. Trudeau: Don’t be so quick to brag about Sikhs in your cabinet – Ramesh Thakur

The latest complaint regarding the number of Sikhs in Cabinet (the selection of Parliamentary Secretaries somewhat addressed under-represented groups – see my deck Big Shift or Big Return? Visible Minority Representation in the 2015 Election for the numbers):

India is an exemplar par excellence of power sharing and political accommodation in a multi-ethnic, multireligious society. In a country where 80 per cent of the people are Hindus, at one point the heads of government, state and army were a Sikh, Muslim and Sikh respectively; and the real power behind the throne was an Italian-born Catholic widow. Diversity and pluralism have no better champion. At the official White House banquet hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama for India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – a Sikh – on Nov, 24, 2009, a glittering new dimension of Indian soft power was in evidence with the presence of many Indian and Indian-American women from the political, business, literary, cultural and educational worlds.

Sikhs make up under 2 per cent of India’s population, so two Sikhs in Mr. Modi’s cabinet is a better reflection of India’s diversity than four in Mr. Trudeau’s is of Canada’s demographic makeup. In fact the Congress Party, not Mr. Modi, needs a reckoning on Sikhs. After Indira Gandhi’s assassination by Sikh bodyguards in 1984, 3,000 Sikhs were slaughtered in a pogrom often orchestrated by senior Congress leaders, including more than 2,000 killed in the nation’s capital. One of the extraordinary features of modern Indian history is how Mr. Modi was demonized internationally for his alleged role in the anti-Muslim riots of 2002 in Gujarat but the Congress Party escaped global odium for its role in the worse atrocities of 1984. It is hard to see how there can be closure for the victims’ families until such time as there is criminal accountability for those events.

Moreover, any mention of Sikhs in the context of Indo-Canadian relations inevitably rakes up ugly memories from three decades ago, when Canada seemed to be home to a large number of separatist Sikh extremists.

On June 23, 1985, Air India flight 182 was blown up over the Irish Sea en route from Montreal to Delhi via London, killing all 329 people on board. Most were Canadian citizens of Indian ancestry. This was the first bombing of a 747 jumbo jet, the deadliest plane bombing, the deadliest attack involving an aircraft until 9/11 in New York and remains the biggest mass murder in Canadian history. The perpetrators are believed to have been Sikh terrorists, although the subsequent trials were less than satisfactory.

All in all, what may have been a lighthearted quip by Mr. Trudeau is fraught with hidden dangers and best avoided in future.

Source: Mr. Trudeau: Don’t be so quick to brag about Sikhs in your cabinet – The Globe and Mail

Implementing diversity and inclusion in Parliament: A more complete picture | My piece in the hilltimes.com

With the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and opposition critics, we now have a more comprehensive picture of gender and visible minority diversity in Parliament’s leadership positions. How well has the Liberal government implemented its overall diversity and inclusion commitments, and how have the other parties responded to the “because it’s 2015” challenge?

Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed a Cabinet with gender parity (15 each of men and women) and almost 17 per cent visible minority ministers (four Sikh and one Afghan Canadian), gender parity was not attained for parliamentary secretaries (12 positions out of 35 or 34 per cent). Visible minority parliamentary secretaries are over-represented (nine positions or 24 per cent) in relation to their share of the voting population (15 per cent).

Moreover, the government addressed some of the criticism regarding Cabinet over-representation of Sikhs by appointing three African Canadians, one Chinese, one Arab, one Latin American and three South Asians (two Sikhs, one Ismaili Muslim). Three of the nine visible minority parliamentary secretaries are women, including Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister.

In total, of the 68 leadership positions (ministers, parliamentary secretaries, whips, and House leaders), 59 per cent are men, and 21 per cent are visible minority men or women. The detailed breakdown is shown in the chart below:

In terms of percentage of caucus, there are 27 women in leadership positions out of 50 elected, or 54 per cent. For visible minorities, there are 14 out of 39 elected, or 36 per cent. In contrast, 30 non-visible minority men are in leadership positions out of 134 elected, or 20 per cent.

No matter how one looks at the data, this marks a major shift in government parliamentary leadership appointments, towards more women and visible minorities.

The Conservative official opposition compensated for their relatively low number of women MPs (17 per cent of caucus), making 35 per cent of critics women (the Harper government’s last Cabinet similarly appointed more women to Cabinet—31 per cent—compared to the 17 per cent in caucus).

However, with a small number of visible minority MPs (six or six per cent of caucus), critic visible minority representation is only slightly compensated at nine per cent, although visible minority MPs form 13 per cent of the smaller number of deputy critics. But in relation to caucus membership, 50 per cent of visible minority Conservative MPs are critics, reflecting again the same drive to present a more inclusive face to Canadians.

The NDP opposition has the largest proportionate female caucus representation: 41 per cent. It is no surprise that women MPs form 45 per cent of critics. With only two visible minority MPs to choose from, only one (three per cent) is a critic (but again, this is 50 per cent of those elected).

So what does all this mean in terms of diversity and inclusion?

The Liberal government, given the large number of women (50) and visible minority (39) MPs elected had little difficulty in meeting its stated goals of Cabinet gender parity (but slipped in other leadership positions). It also was able to significantly exceed visible minority representation in relation to the number of visible minority voters.

This ‘over-representation’ reflects a conscious decision to demonstrate diversity and inclusion, one that started with having the highest percentage of visible minority candidates (17 per cent) compared to the other major parties (13 per cent).

For both opposition parties, the weakness in visible minority representation reflects the small number of visible minority MPs elected. With respect to women, the Conservatives responded to the ‘because its 2015’ challenge, compensating for their small number of women MPs, and applying the same approach to visible minorities. The NDP made the most effort in recruiting female candidates, many of whom were successful, and thus close to gender parity was not a challenge.

All in all, taken together, the Liberal leadership positions reflect a significant implementation of the diversity, inclusion and multiculturalism agenda, one that, given the horizontal ministerial comment for parity and diversity in all government appointments, holds significant promise in ensuring greater representation in government.

Moreover, to the extent that the opposition parties could, their choices recognize the need to respond to this agenda and ensure that their leadership reflects Canadian diversity.

Source: Implementing diversity and inclusion in Parliament: A more complete picture | hilltimes.com

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

A perfect cabinet? Some Italian Liberals disagree. Also Black Canadians

The challenges in meeting the expectations of all groups in Canada, starting with Steve Paiken with respect to Italian Canadians:

But now that the dust is settling and Ottawa is beginning to get back to business, some observers — even Liberals — are allowing themselves to be a bit more critical.

Having spoken Thursday night to two prominent members of the Italian-Canadian community — both of whom are Liberals — they are more than a little miffed that there’s not a single member of their community in the new cabinet.

In some respects, it is a bit shocking. The Italian-Canadian community has always demonstrated overwhelming support for the Liberal Party of Canada.

“We’re not going to make a stink about this because the reaction to the new cabinet has been so positive,” one well-connected member of the Italian community told me. “But four ‎Sikhs and no Italians? I don’t know about that.”

Let’s remember, putting a cabinet together is almost by definition an impossible undertaking. There are so many boxes to check off: gender balance, regional balance, ethnic balance, generational balance, and the list goes on. Satisfying every constituency is a hopeless task.

Nevertheless, the absence of any Italian presence in a Liberal cabinet is noteworthy.

Another Liberal with whom I spoke last night — not an Italian — had less patience for the criticism. This source admitted, yes, Italians are under-represented in this cabinet, but added they’ve been over-represented in previous cabinets.

When Paul Martin took over the prime minister’s office in 2004, his cabinets would feature more ministers of Italian heritage than perhaps numbers warranted (Albina Guarnieri, Tony Valeri, Joe Volpe, Joe Fontana, Tony Ianno, Judy Sgro, and Joe Comuzzi).

“No one complained we had too many Italians back then,” this source said.

It’s not like Prime Minister Trudeau didn’t have enough Italian-Canadian MPs from which to choose. Liberal MPs with Italian backgrounds include former cabinet minister Judy Sgro; Joe Peschisolido, who has previous experience as a parliamentary secretary; Marco Mendicino, whose resume includes defeating floor-crossing MP Eve Adams for the Liberal nomination, then Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver for the seat in Eglinton-Lawrence;  Francis Scarpaleggia, an MP since 2004; Anthony Rota, first elected in 2004, sidelined for the last four years after losing in 2011, but back in now; and rookie MPs Francesco Sorbara, Mike Bossio, Angelo Iacono, David Lametti, and Nicola Di Iorio, among others.

When our first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, once checked into a hotel, he was asked on the registration form what his occupation was. He wrote: “cabinet maker.”

Our first PM was a clever guy. He also understood that every time he made a decision to put someone in cabinet, it required a concurrent decision to keep several others out. High profile victorious candidates such as former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, former broadcaster Seamus O’Regan, downtown Toronto’s Adam Vaughan, and former general Andrew Leslie are among the many Liberal MPs who have learned this the hard way.

And so, apparently, are many Italian-Canadian MPs, who for the first time in three-and-a-half decades find themselves outside the Liberal inner circle. As we are learning, it is a curious and uncomfortable place for them to be.

Source: A perfect cabinet? Some Italian Liberals disagree | TVO.org

And Cecil Foster reflects on Black discontent:

It is as if there is no black in Canada. Maybe despite all its diversity Canada in 2015 is still a white man’s country, where as in time of old all eligible and desirable non-whites and males have been co-opted into whiteness. Just like the Italians, Greeks, Ukrainians, Afghans, etc. that are now all white Canadians. Diversity through assimilation. And as has always been the case, the one unassimilable group – primary because of the colour of skin and the historic outsider status – is blacks. And this is at a time when south of the border there is a black president. Maybe it is true that Canadian and U.S. cultures and politics are fundamentally different.

It is unbelievable that at this moment when diversity is the language and imagery of Canada, yet again we have been told in the jargon of street that if you are black, stand back. If there has been two groups that have been the measure of exclusion and marginalization in the Canada of old they were First Nations people and blacks. It is a moment of pride when we can see First Nations representation in the Canadian government, especially for me a First Nations Justice Minister and Attorney-General.

But whether it was as the original Loyalists that withdrew into what would become Canada, blacks were always part of this country and we have always been the moral conscience of this country. Indeed how can anyone begin a conversation on power, citizenship, multiculturalism, equity, a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, criminality, discrimination and police carding without starting that conversation about historically what has been the role and positioning of blacks generally in this hemisphere and specifically in Canada?

So why are there no blacks in the cabinet? Perhaps because the cabinet was chosen on merit and no black was good enough. Perhaps no one ethnic or racialized group should be signalled out for special attention. Perhaps affirmative action should not be a factor. …

As the Prime Minister stated, the year is 2015. All these questions can be posed about any visible-minority group that is using the pictures of members of their community who are federal government ministers to tell their young see you, too, can become a government minister. For it to be really true, as our Prime Minister implied, that Canada has come a long way when any argument against the inclusion of any ethnic, racial, gendered or sexed group is so absurd that no real explanation is needed. Unless this inclusion is about other minorities, not blacks.

Unfortunately, there is the sense that the blacks in Canada have been slighted. And ironically this is one of the ethnic groups that have resolutely remained faithful politically to the Liberal Party of Canada in good and bad times, even when other ethnic groups with less of a legacy in Canada flirted with and even shifted support to other parties. Most enthusiastically support multiculturalism. Many in the black communities across Canada still revere Pierre Trudeau. What more needs to be said about loyalty or blacks and Liberals.

About two decades ago, I published a book titled A Place Called Heaven: The Meaning of Being Black in Canada. Back then. I was writing about an ethno-racial group that is as old as Canada itself, that for want of a better phrase should be considered as much “old stock” as the English or French. Back then, this was a group still feeling marginalized and dreaming of a day when Canada would make young black boys and girls feel confident enough to believe that they can grow up to become members of the highest echelons of their society.

Source: Canada’s blacks: Still waiting for their moment of ‘real change’ – The Globe and Mail