Trudeau’s First Cabinet

In which the author responds to random people on the internet as though they were one huge, multi-headed, flame breathing goblin.

Depending on how stupid you are, you have may have spent some part of today wondering how many of the women in Justin Trudeau’s newly appointed Cabinet were put in their positions simply to fill his much-discussed quota.

In the days leading up to today’s swearing-in, you may have reasoned that Trudeau and his team must have faced at least one choice between a guy they really wanted to appoint and their to create gender parity at the ministerial level. Was it Adam Vaughan or Andrew Leslie who got the boot? Was Bill Blair left aside in favour of a woman? And which of the women that were appointed got their jobs because they were really the best? Who was Male Choice #1 and who was the Female Quota Filler #10?

Have you considered that Trudeau may have started his process by selecting from the women in caucus? “Hey, Gerry,” he might have said, “why don’t we find 15 well-suited roles for the women in caucus and then fill the rest of the positions with the men? Y’know, instead of doing it the other way around like always.”

Or, maybe the choices were more obvious than that. Maybe Trudeau had 20 women in mind, or more, but had to pare it down to leave enough room for the guys. Maybe he’d have intended to appoint 25 women to Cabinet, but some of his picks failed to win a seat in the general election.

You’re no more likely to know Trudeau motivations or reasoning than you were Harper’s, Martin’s, Chretien’s or any previous Prime Minister. Maybe all the choices, male and female, were made to fill quotas. Can you envision Justin, Gerry and Katie sitting on the plane sketching out such a list? “We’ve should have two Sikhs, two indigenous persons, two people with Montreal accents, one from Montreal, but with a non-distinct accent…”

Just because Trudeau made a promise for gender parity doesn’t mean it was hard to keep and presuming otherwise is where you find the real sexism and misogyny in this debate; that finding 15 women for Cabinet posts was a big challenge, especially when you have to pick them from amidst all those fine men. Conceivably, Trudeau was so comfortable making the promise because he knew it would be easy to keep.

This could be a cynical political play, but if so, it’s a very short game. The bump he gets from good feelings will be gone by the time the Speech from the Throne is read a month from now and any points he may have scored with women voters don’t have much value on the first day of a 4 year mandate.

(Also, his purely political plays, like support for C-51, are usually accompanied by a long, loud farting sound, and no such emissions was heard on the grounds of Rideau Hall today.)

Maybe Trudeau really does encapsulate the best of the his mother and father. The reason with the rebellion. Compassion with will. Or maybe he’s a simple guy who decided to make a simple gesture. Or maybe he’s Gerry Butts’ puppet. Or maybe he’s playing a game so long only he can see the outcomes. Or. Or. Or.

Or perhaps it’s time to stop expecting women to prove themselves to men in traditionally male-dominated sectors, like politics. And yes, the road to equality of any kind, gender-based, racial, sexual, etc., may be paved with quotas but it’s only because white men have such a hard time getting the fuck out of the way.

Your concerns about Trudeau and the sad, male caucus members left out in the cold says more about your attitudes toward women than it does about Trudeau’s politics. Deal with that, already.

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