News, Politics

“Because It’s 2015.”

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Trudeau Cabinet 2015
Trudeau Cabinet 2015

Canada’s brand-new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is shaking things up a bit.

For nearly 10 years, Canada’s prime minister was Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative party. On Oct. 19, after a federal election, Justin Trudeau was chosen as PM.

He is the leader of the Liberals. The two political parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, often have very different opinions about what is most important to Canadians.*

Justin Trudeau (son of famous former prime minister Pierre Trudeau) says that he values openness, equality and diversity.

Last week he announced his “Cabinet.” They are 30 hand-selected MPs (Members of Parliament) who will hold the most important jobs in the government. They will be Trudeau’s closest advisors. (Thirty-one if you include the Prime Minister.)

Each Cabinet minister has one main job, depending on his or her skills. That’s called their “portfolio.” For instance, Jody Wilson-Raybould is the Minister of Justice, which means that she represents Canada in legal disputes and her department is responsible for ensuring that “the Canadian justice system (i.e., laws and the courts) is fair, accessible and efficient,” according to Wikipedia.

Justin Trudeau’s cabinet is made up of 15 women and 15 men (plus Trudeau). For the first time in Canada’s history, half (50 per cent) of the Prime Minister’s closest advisors are women. In contrast, just 30 per cent—one-third—of the members of Stephen Harper’s most recent cabinet were female.

Trudeau’s cabinet also includes people from different backgrounds, cultures and ways of life. For instance, there is an astronaut, a person in a wheelchair, someone who used to own a campground, a Rhodes Scholar, a refugee, an athlete, an Inuit person, and a former soldier, among others.

Trudeau told reporters that his cabinet “looks a lot like Canada.”

Trudeau was asked by a reporter why he appointed such a diverse group of Canadians. His simple answer has gone viral: “Because it’s 2015.”

(See video, below, of Trudeau answering that question.)

*There is a good explanation of Canada’s political parties in this 2011 TKN article.

Related links

Trudeau posted each cabinet minister’s picture and biography on his Facebook page and they’re also on the Government of Canada website here.

Wikipedia has a great list of all of Canada’s Prime Ministers and how much time they were in office, from most to least. Before you skip to the bottom, try to guess who has spent the smallest amount of time in office as PM. (Hint: You know the name. You do. Think about it…)

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
What do you think Justin Trudeau meant when he said that his cabinet “looks a lot like Canada”?

What do you think he meant when he said that his cabinet was diverse “because it’s 2015”?

Reading Prompt: Analysing Texts
Take a look at the people in Trudeau’s cabinet. What types of Canadians are NOT represented in the cabinet?

Primary
Identify specific elements of texts and explain how they contribute to the meaning of the texts (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Junior
Analyse texts and explain how various elements in them contribute to meaning (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Intermediate
Analyse a variety of texts, both simple and complex, and explain how the different elements in them contribute to meaning and influence the reader’s reaction (OME, Reading: 1.7).

Language Feature: Vocabulary
Look up the word “portfolio.” Why do you think that word is used to describe the main job of a cabinet minister?