Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet

by Elias Blum

It’s a good thing, of course, that Justin Trudeau, the new Liberal PM of Canada, has appointed a cabinet that represents the political elite of different genders, regions, colours and religions.

It’s a good piece of symbolism: the United Colours of Canada. All in it together. Snap! There’s a minister who probably looks a bit like you, or at least like someone you know.

It’s a good move politically, too. Who in their right mind would ever oppose it? It’s a good way to gain some additional political goodwill after the election. It only begs the question of why no-one else thought of it first.

And it sends a positive message. If you are rich, well-connected, well-educated, willing to be a professional politician, and slick with the media, then you too can be a member of the cabinet – regardless of the colour of your skin, the configuration of your genitalia, your sexual orientation, the language you speak, or which part of the country you come from. As far as it goes, that’s a good thing.

But it does not go very far. Such diversity from within the political and economic elite is a very easy form of ‘progressivism’. It doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t upset any real interest. It doesn’t include the poor. It doesn’t do anything, in itself, to change the lives of the millions of women who were not appointed to the cabinet, and who are never likely to be appointed because they are not politicians.

On the other hand, if he were to make good his promises stimulus infrastructure spending, or to raise taxes on the rich to pay for a cut for those in the middle and bottom, that would actually have a beneficial effect on the lives of many women – but that will be a harder thing to achieve, because it will mean opposing rich, powerful interests.

We will have to see how he gets on with that. He looks to me like a bit of a Tony Blair. But I’m not a Canadian, so I’m watching him as an interested outsider. We’ll see.