Justin Trudeau presents an “invigorated” cabinet
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet on Tuesday in a muted inauguration in which the Canadian leader presented a program to rekindle support for his Liberal Party after disappointing and unpopular early elections in September.
The swearing-in ceremony, hampered by pandemic restrictions and a cool autumn rain, was the first major event since the new government was formed with an election held last month that denied Mr. Trudeau the majority vote he asked for in the House of Commons.
The inauguration also took place following a misstep by Mr. Trudeau which prompted him to apologize to Indigenous peoples for skipping a new holiday recognizing Canada’s history of injustices towards them. This error eroded the confidence of some Canadians in his personal judgment.
While Mr. Trudeau felt chastised by Canadians’ rejection of his candidacy for parliamentary scrutiny, he gave no sign of it in his speech on Tuesday. After introducing his new cabinet, he announced renewed commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, as well as drive affordable housing and economic growth.
“One of the things that we saw very clearly in this election is that Canadians expect great things to be done by Parliament and by this government,” Trudeau said at the meeting. ‘a press conference. “With a refreshed and reinvigorated team around me, I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to accomplish. “
Six years after being sworn in, Trudeau now sees his reputation tarnished compared to that of the golden politician idolized by many Canadians and much of the world when he led his Liberal Party to a landslide victory in 2015 The failure of Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals in the recent election to win a majority for the second time in a row was a clear indication of this.
Like many observers, Stewart Perst, professor of political science at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, said no political party emerged from the vote with anything to brag about.
“There wasn’t really a winner,” he says. “There were just a whole bunch of losers. “
While Mr. Trudeau has increased the Liberal Party’s position by a few seats, he remains well short of a majority in Parliament, which largely resembles the one that was dissolved in August. Nevertheless, several analysts say that Mr. Trudeau is in a much stronger position than before despite his electoral disappointment.
For one thing, he’s unlikely to face another vote anytime soon, experts say.
Canada’s campaign finance laws make it nearly impossible for parties to raise large sums of money quickly, so most political parties are not able financially to return to voters in the near future – a decision that few of them would welcome, anyway. This is especially true for the center-left New Democratic Party which, as in the last Parliament, will most likely be Mr. Trudeau’s key ally in the vote.
“None of them want another election,” said Brooke Jeffrey, professor of political science at Concordia University in Montreal who has served as an advisor to other Liberal leaders. This puts the opposition in a weak position when it comes to making demands in return for their support, Ms. Jeffrey noted.
“Trudeau has had clear navigation for at least two years and he might even have four,” she said.
On Tuesday, Trudeau said he will use this position of strength as Canada gradually leaves the pandemic behind to advance the issues that have been at the heart of its political agenda, starting with economic recovery and including the climate change, mental health and government funded. child care.
Although indigenous issues historically have not been a major political force, they rose to the top of national consciousness in the spring after the discovery of the remains of students buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Colombia. British. This was followed by several other similar discoveries, rekindling a painful and traumatic story for Indigenous communities.
Ahead of the election, Mr. Trudeau declared a national holiday, making September 30 the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
But he undermined the gesture by spending the day traveling the country with his family for a post-election beach vacation. Compounding the snub, his office did not respond to two requests from the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, which houses the Kamloops school site, to attend ceremonies there.
Last week, Mr. Trudeau visited the First Nation to apologize at a rally where he was repeatedly criticized, albeit respectfully, for the timing of his vacation.
Indigenous children have gone missing in Canada
The remains of what are believed to be Indigenous children have been found at the sites of former residential schools in Canada. Here’s what you need to know:
- Background: Around 1883, Aboriginal children in many parts of Canada were forced to attend residential schools as part of a program of forced assimilation. Most of these schools were run by churches and all prohibited the use of indigenous languages and cultural practices, often through violence. Illnesses, as well as sexual, physical and emotional abuse were widespread. An estimated 150,000 children passed through schools between their opening and closing in 1996.
- Missing children: A National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, set up as part of the government’s apology and regulation for schools, found that at least 4,100 students died while attending them, much from abuse or neglect, others from illness or accident. In many cases, families never learned of the fate of their offspring, now known as “missing children”.
- Discoveries : In May, members of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation found 215 bodies at the Kamloops school – which was operated by the Roman Catholic Church until 1969 – after using ground penetrating radar. In June, an Indigenous group said the remains of 751 people, mostly children, were found in anonymous graves at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan.
- Cultural genocide: In a 2015 report, the commission concluded that the system was a form of “cultural genocide”. Murray Sinclair, a former judge and senator who headed the commission, recently said he now believed the number of missing children was “well over 10,000”.
- Apologies and next steps: The commission asked for an apology from the Pope for the role of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis stopped by before one, but the Archbishop of Vancouver apologized on behalf of his archdiocese. Canada has officially apologized and offered financial and other support for the research, but Indigenous leaders believe the government still has a long way to go.
It was the third time that Mr. Trudeau’s vacation plans had turned into a political puzzle, reinforcing the view of some Canadians as an out of touch member of the elite.
On Tuesday, the prime minister also used the cabinet announcement to try to reset some government institutions that have been embroiled in scandal, including the military. Its leaders up to the highest rank have been the subject of multiple allegations and investigations of sexual abuse and misconduct in recent months. “They just still don’t get it,” said clearly frustrated Trudeau earlier this month.
Mr. Trudeau replaced his Minister of Defense, Harjit Sajjan, a former Canadian army lieutenant colonel who fought in Afghanistan, with Anita Anand, a former law professor who was minister responsible for the vaccine procurement program of Canada during the pandemic. This decision has helped to preserve the gender balance in the most senior positions, as the Prime Minister has pledged to do since 2015.
The prime minister also appointed new leaders to oversee his climate agenda.
Mr. Trudeau has long been seen as a champion of climate reform, but the significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions he has achieved in many sectors of the economy have been more than offset by the increase in production in the Alberta oil sands. In recent months, some environmentalists have questioned whether he is doing enough to reduce emissions.
On Tuesday, the premier appointed a staunch critic of the oil industry to be his new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, turning to Steven Guilbeault, co-founder of Équiterre, a Quebec environmental group, who previously worked on environmental issues. climate issues. at Greenpeace Canada.
Mr. Guilbeault has already been arrested after climbing an observation tower overlooking downtown Toronto to unfurl a banner condemning the climate records of Canada and the United States. His appointment could signal that Mr. Trudeau plans to temper his support for Canada’s oil and gas industry.
After leading his party through two elections in which he emerged with a minority government, Mr. Trudeau has faced growing questions about his political future. When asked if he would lead the Liberals to the next vote on Tuesday, Trudeau, who is prone to long answers, was unusually concise.
“Yes,” he said.