Canada’s new PM said he would appoint women to half the cabinet posts. He did.


Click to enlargeChris Wattie/Reuters

Canada’s new cabinet looks like Canada

Justin Trudeau promised in June that half his cabinet would be female if he was elected Canada’s prime minister. Today he got the job, the women — and the bruised egos of a few experienced men who didn’t get the nod.

Trudeau named 15 women to a cabinet of 30, including Jody Wilson-Raybould, an aboriginal lawyer from British Columbia as minister of justice and attorney general; Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist as trade minister; Jane Philpott, a first-time member of parliament and family doctor, at health.

Asked after his swearing-in ceremony why an equal cabinet was important to him, Trudeau said, “Because it’s 2015.”

“It’s a message to Canadian women — and young women in particular — that this world is about you,” said Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec who put women in half his provincial ministries in 2007. “You have to move beyond the old boy’s network.”

Trudeau’s ‘parity cabinet’ is a first in a country where women started voting in 1916, four years before similar rights in the U.S. It ends a centuries-old habit by leaders of large English-speaking countries, including the U.K. and U.S., to name men to a large majority of government posts. France, Italy and the Nordic countries already have had parity cabinets. Canada has been slower than others to elect women, ranking No. 50 last year in women’s government representation on the International Parliamentary Union’s list of 190 countries, down from 17th in 1997…

Trudeau’s action sets a benchmark for his English-speaking Group of Seven colleagues. U.S. President Barack Obama’s 16-member cabinet is currently 25 percent female; David Cameron’s U.K. cabinet is 33 percent female.

We’ll see what happens,” Laure Liswood, co-founder of the Council of Women World Leaders said. “Number One that the sky doesn’t fall.”

Strange as it may seem, there are beaucoup folks in the United States who don’t think the sky will fall, either. We just ain’t in power.

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