If I Picked The Winners… The New Cabinet

Election night two weeks ago was like the Oscars for poli-sci junkies in Canada.  Millions of us stayed up far into the night to see who would win, even though fairly early on in the night, it was kind of obvious which way all of it was going.

Now it’s a reverse situation: we get to guess at who the nominees will be, now that we know who won.  Justin Trudeau will announce his cabinet team on Wednesday, November 4th and, judging from some Tweets coming through my feed and a website or two, there is at least a small crew of us who have been playing the Canadian nerd version of fantasy football with the potential names to fill the jobs.  There’s also a bit of a guessing game in terms of which cabinet positions will still exist on Wednesday, as Justin famously promised to cut down the number of ministers and to have gender parity within his choices.  The ballpark figure now seems to be in the high 20s, perhaps even as many as 30 cabinet members… time will tell.

And so, in the grand tradition of Siskel and Ebert’s “If We Picked the Winners” and office pool fantasy football teams everywhere, I’m going to have a crack at it.  I have no idea how right I may be on some of these.  I want Scotty Brison to be in the cabinet simply because I think he (and his accent) are so wonderfully Canadian.  I can see him hanging out with Sir John A. and D’Arcy McGee and George-Etienne Cartier back at the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 and fitting in just as well then as he does as a notable Liberal face now.

The Charlottetown Conference – 1864 Everyone in this photograph is drunk. We have a country because a Scot and an Irishman crashed the party and got everyone intoxicated… except for George Brown, because he was a killjoy. My vote for best hangover photo ever (PEI’s Andrew Macdonald gives the game away with his jauntily-raised top hat).

So, here we go:

Prime Minister – Justin Trudeau

I am confident that this one will happen.

Deputy Prime MinisterHedy Fry

Stephen Harper did away with the DPM position in 2006, which I think was ludicrous.  The Honourable Hedy Fry has been a Liberal powerhouse for decades.  On a more cynical level, she also hits several target factors right out of the gate: female, visible minority, West Coast, medical degree, *and* she beat Kim Campbell in 1993.

Definitely Cabinet material.

Foreign Affairs – Marc Garneau

I’m biased here, as Monsieur Garneau is my own MP.  That said, he has been a brilliant critic of the Harper government on all sorts of foreign affairs issues, especially the Syrian Crisis… AND HE’S AN ASTRONAUT!!!  Marc Garneau was Canada’s first astronaut and has the schools named after him to prove it.  Maybe I’m being too fanciful, but I think that kind of a background gives one a certain possible flair for international (intergalactic?) affairs.

Cynical score: French-Canadian; former rival for the Liberal leadership; represents a highly Anglophone region of Montreal; extremely well-known and popular national figure.
EnvironmentElizabeth May

Right, this might be where all my theories go right out the window, but I think Justin Trudeau would be crazy not to bring in the Green Party Leader as the Environment Minister.  He seems to get on well with Ms May, and if the new government’s aim is to reverse nearly a decade of humiliating environmental policy c/o Stephen Harper, having Elizabeth May at the helm of saving the future of the planet isn’t a bad idea.

Cynical Score: Bi-partisan choice; female (this will come up a lot in this post); West Coast; brings Green Party into the wider Liberal tent.  The cost of not having a Liberal Party member as Enviro Minister?  Minimal.  The cost of seeing Stephen Harper’s face when Elizabeth May is announced as a cabinet minister?  Priceless.
FinanceDominic LeBlanc

Being Finance Minister in Canada is often seen as being the right-hand of the PM.  In many cases, there’s a presumption that it is a post gifted to a future possible leader of the country (see Paul Martin, Sir Charles Tupper, R. B. Bennett, John Turner and Jean Chrétien) or it is a job given to one of if not the smartest person in the cabinet (see the late Jim Flaherty).  Justin Trudeau made international headlines for not being the sharpest knife in the drawer; rather, he has “emotional intelligence”.  Dominic LeBlanc, son of a former governor-general and childhood friend of the Trudeau boys, is an intellectual, a barrister, a member of the Privy Council, and a long-time advocate for Justin’s style of leadership.  He’s held half a dozen different critic positions, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him rise to the challenge of FM.  If nothing else, his time on the Special Committee for Non-Medical Use of Drugs would give him an insight into how to make marijuana legal and taxable as soon as possible.

Cynical Score: personal friend of Justin’s; scion of a political family; Atlantic Canada; bilingual; young; well-respected; stupidly smart.
HealthCarolyn Bennett

I really hope I’m right on this one.

Carolyn Bennett was the first fantasy football minister I chose the day after the election.  She was made Canada’s first Minister for the State of Public Health during the SARS outbreak in 2003 while also serving on a vast number of standing committees during her time in Parliament.  A former family physician in downtown Toronto, she was also an assistant professor in the Development of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and was President of the Medical Staff Association at Women’s College Hospital.

Cynical Score: tons of previous experience; highly capable of balancing a national portfolio while also keeping up her constituency support; Toronto; female; will take no shit from the Conservative Health shadow minister.

Citizenship and ImmigrationRalph Goodale

Confession: Ralph Goodale is another Canadian politician that I feel fits in with the Macdonald-McGee-Cartier-Tilley model that I so love.  Sir John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister, led the Liberal-Conservative Party (Canadians adore their oxymoronic political party titles, see: Progressive Conservative) until his death in 1891.  To me, Ralph Goodale symbolizes so much about what is positive and hopeful in Canadian politics, rather than divisive and repugnant.  Just look at that face!

Mr Goodale was one of the few strong Liberal voices during the wilderness years between 2011 and, well, two weeks ago.  A professional politician since the 1970s, he has served in the federal Cabinet as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Natural Resources, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister of Public Works and finally Minister of Finance.

I tapped him for Minister of Citizenship and Immigration because of Justin Trudeau’s progressive (compared to the other two parties) position on taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees ASAP.  Mr Goodale has the political experience of dealing with bureaucratic nightmares, but also the heart to do the right thing here and streamline the process for refugees as expediently as possible.

Cynical Score: Prairie politician; beloved; heart-on-sleeve at times, but also quite a pit-bull when needed; would actually answer questions about immigration policy during Question Period; long-time public servant who deserves a big portfolio.

International Trade and DevelopmentChrystia Freeland

In the past few days, I’ve seen a few theories that Freeland might become Finance Minister.  If that’s so, fantastic!  If not, however, I think she would be ideal as International Trade and Development Minister.  Canada just signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the middle of the election.  It’s a free trade deal that, frankly, very few Canadians understand.  Freeland’s background in finance and economics, and her position as the recent trade critic to the Harper government gives her a great amount of insight into making sure we get a good deal with the rest of the Pacific Rim.

Cynical Score: Rhodes Scholar; journalist/editor with the Globe and Mail and Financial Times; Toronto; popular; a definite current and future powerhouse in the party.

Industry – Scott Brison

As previously stated, I don’t care what position he gets, I just want to see Scott Brison in the Cabinet.  That is all.

I mean, the man is ridiculously well-qualified: six-time winner of Parliamentary elections; Liberal Party Critic for Finance; World Economic Forum choice for “Young Global Leader”; Minister of Public Works and Receiver General; and his personal bio ends with the following: In his spare time he enjoys economics, foreign policy, sea kayaking, downhill skiing and growing apples.

Cynical Score: Nova Scotian; economic go-to-guy; gay; won his riding as both a PC and a Liberal; best accent in Parliament.

WhipSeamus O’Regan

The Whip isn’t always a cabinet position, but it can be: minister without a portfolio.  For those of you who don’t know, the Whip is officially in charge of making sure the party has quorum before a vote, as a defeat on a confidence motion in this country kicks in the mechanics of responsible government and the government falls, i.e. either the opposition party convinces the G-G that s/he can form a government or we have a brand new election.

In a more Machiavellian sense, the Whip has the dirt on everybody in the party and makes sure that everyone does what they’re told or else.  Francis Urquhart in House of Cards was the Party Whip before then making it all the way to PM.  I want Seamus to be Whip so that I can envision a Canadian version of House of Cards starring himself… because that would be the coolest thing to happen in Canadian politics since John A. and D’Arcy got up the idea to stack a train-car full of champagne and head on down to Charlottetown to crash a party.

My Other Picks

The following names, I hope, will show up on Wednesday in some type of powerful position:

Adam Vaughan
Karen McCrimmonYvonne Jones
Harjit Sajjan
Andrew Leslie
Brenda Shanahan
Marie-Claude Bibeau
John McCallum
Jody Raybould-Wilson
Judy Foote
David McGuinty
Mélanie Joly
Marco Mendicino
Robert-Falcon Ouellette
Catherine McKenna
Pamela Goldsmith-Jones
Bill Blair
and, finally, because we can’t leave him out without seeming to be rude, Stephane Dion.

Creative Commons Licence
Midatlantic Musings by Jane G. V. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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About midatlanticmusings

Historian of the Irish Diaspora and masculinities, wife, mother, lover of good books, red wine, fine whiskies, pop culture aficionado, and Star Wars wonk.
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