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One of the biggest surprises from Justin Trudeau’s swearing-in ceremony is who he chose to run for him on the Liberal benches in the House of Commons.
Nunavut’s first minister for territories, Perry Bellegarde, may not sound like the hot favourite to spearhead a populist turnaround on the ideological front – but in symbolism it’s very powerful indeed.
The new Liberal leader had talked up the creation of a “fully inclusive and diverse cabinet” – and he’s made the most exciting start to his mandate with a team that closely reflects his own largely urban, multi-ethnic and middle-class roots.
More than one-third of the cabinet are women, the second most in Canada’s history. There are ethnically diverse faces, too.
And there’s a surprising nod to industry, agriculture and sustainable resource management.
If your faith in language remains strong, the reference to Jacques Cartier’s capture of Montreal will probably not sting.
The phrase was penned centuries ago as the nation got its government-in-the-18th-century head around a visit to the metropolis by the French explorer.
If your faith in symbolic decor is still strong – both Mr Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland are non-native speakers – chances are she’ll benefit from her lack of linguistic ability as the a country that has one of the most heavily migratory peoples on earth is suddenly sensitive to the impact of immigration and diversity.
In 2015, Canadians voted out a Liberal government that bet on a sort of pre-emptive Bloc in 2015 – and, as he showed that day in a photo with President Obama and the North Koreans, our last Prime Minister was lucky to hold on to power for nearly five years because of a lack of a default option.
Since then, not only have the French spoken by the nation increased – from 5.3% to 6.1% of the population – but we’ve made steady progress in reducing disparities in income, education and culture.
Now our youth are considering a career in some of the trades and design innovation so prevalent in the digital age, including in field such as 3D printing.
Mr Trudeau is asking Canadians to be patient and grateful for his government’s opening up of the official policy to abortion and for its willingness to engage with the opposition, which rose to the occasion last year with surprise and triumph.
And Canadians are using the first steps to search the parliamentary halls for more substance – but the prime minister is up for a harder challenge.
His team has succeeded in repositioning Canada with the West at its core, but voters are wondering if his broken promises and failures will add up to a failed experiment in governing.
This time a new team may well have its first major major test.
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