Trudeau cabinet ‘looks like Canada’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks outside Rideau Hall with his new cabinet. CBC photo.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks outside Rideau Hall with his new cabinet. CBC photo.

“Diversity is a source of strength and not weakness. The cabinet looks like Canada,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the nation yesterday in introducing his history-making 30-member cabinet based on diversity.
The cabinet is equally balanced between women and men, while new ministries were introduced and responsibility for refugees was added for the immigration and citizenship minister.
Asked by a reporter why he wanted gender balance, Trudeau simply replied: “It’s 2015!”
Standing outside Rideau Hall after he and the cabinet were sworn in, he said, “As I’ve travelled across the country during this election campaign, it is clear to me that Canadians want change. They want to see their values and priorities reflected in their government.
“Liberals are committed to ensuring meaningful gender-based impact analysis in cabinet decision making.”
Trudeau’s cabinet has a touch of experienced MPs but is heavy on new and young people, with some representation by visible minorities and First Nations members.
During the election, now-Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Minister John McCallum, a former economics professor and dean of arts at McGill University, spoke to The Camera at the Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care (CRIHC) about immigration and refugees. First elected in 2000, the Markham-Thornhill MP was critic for citizenship, immigration, multiculturalism and seniors while in opposition.
In that interview, McCallum stressed the need to bring in 25,000 refugees of the Syrian conflict by the end of this year and ensure they have proper medical care. That pledge was a key part of the Liberal platform.
He congratulated CHIHC for providing humanitarian medical treatment and assistance to those new to Canada who are medically uninsured.
McCallum was participating in a CRIHC roundtable which was seeking non-partisan solutions to the unfolding refugee crisis.
In July, the Federal Court of Canada ruled the 2012 interim Federal Health Program denying medical coverage was “cruel and unusual treatment” of refugees and immigrants but it will take time before policies change to reflect that ruling.
Guyanese Mark Gomes, who fled Guyana for Canada with his wife and three children in 2003 and filed a refugee claim based on persecution, expressed his appreciation for the help from CRIHC. The family was refused asylum in 2007 and subsequently lost their health care while they waited in Toronto for their humanitarian application. They became permanent residents in 2012.
Demands that Canada do more to help refugees soared in September after the lifeless body of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi was found washed up on a beach in Turkey.
On the campaign trail, Trudeau said his government would consider airlifting refuges to help alleviate the crisis.
Included in the cabinet appointments yesterday was Maryam Monsef as minister of democratic institutions. Monsef came to Canada as a young immigrant from Afghanistan and immediately went to the city of Peterborough, where she is now the MP for that riding.