The country has been agog this past week over the new gender-balanced federal cabinet, and for good reason.
Having women and men equally share the halls of power is more than simply a notion whose time has come, it’s reality that was long overdue.
The interesting thing about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet is that it, more accurately, represents a reduction of men in cabinet rather than an increase in the number of women … compared to Stephen Harper’s last cabinet.
Harper had 12 women in his cabinet, Trudeau has 15. Not a huge increase in terms of numbers. However, the 12 women in Harper’s 39-member cabinet made up just over 30 per cent of the total. The 15 women in Trudeau’s 31-member cabinet make up just over 48 per cent of the total.
One of the more disappointing responses to Trudeau’s new cabinet is the backhanded misogynistic comment: “I don’t have a problem with women in cabinet, as long as they are qualified.”
There is only one qualification needed to become a federal cabinet minister … be in the good graces of the prime minister. You don’t even have to be a member of the party in power. The prime minister could appoint ministers from other parties which, when you think about it, would go a long way towards eliminating partisan politics. You don’t even have to be an MP; Jean Chretien appointed cabinet ministers who weren’t elected (and we like to pick on Harper for being un-democratic).
When the prime minister goes about choosing a cabinet, he certainly examines the skills each brings to the table and, generally, he chooses only from those who have been elected.
Our system doesn’t mandate that our finance minister be an accountant by profession. It helps, but it’s not necessary.
To suggest that women, somehow, have to be further qualified than their male counterparts who only have to meet the ‘getting elected’ criteria, is simply demeaning, especially given some of the bozos who have had cabinet posts over the years.
Will the new cabinet members make mistakes? Have some blunders? Absolutely, and those won’t be determined or defined by gender.
We have a completely new cabinet with a new prime minister who has empowered his ministers to run their departments without the previous practice of micro-managing by the Prime Minister’s Office. It will be new ground for a lot of people.
It will also be new ground for the country.
Having a gender-balanced cabinet also makes Canada one of the world leaders in this regard. Feels good to be a world leader again, at least in one area. Time to start working on some other areas.