Oh happy days …

Finally, finally, finally the emotionless, closed, secretive, rightest-of-the-right, my-way-or-the-highway Stephen Harper is PierreAndJustingone.  Nine years he was in office!  Nine long years.

But we now have a new Prime Minister and hope is in the air.  Glory Hallelujah!  Justin Pierre James Trudeau, the 43-year old son of the late Pierre Elliott Trudeau (seen here carrying Justin), who was Canada’s Prime Minister from 1968-1979 and then again from 1980-1984.

And what a breath of fresh air Justin is.  He’s young, energetic and passionate.  Collaborative and open.  And cynical as I am, I’ve got to tell you, I really believe he’s sincere.

Will he serve us well?  Who knows, it’s very early days.  He only took office on November 4.  But I’m definitely rooting for him.  And I think he’s gotten off to a very good start.

For one thing he plans to actually deliver on his campaign promises, which he’s prioritized.  And in a spirit of utter transparency (unlike Harper who preferred to keep everyone in the dark), on his website they’ll be keeping track of his successes in that regard; and his failures, which there most surely have to be.  Realistically, who among us can boast a perfect record in everything we try to do?  Can’t get more accountable, or honest, than that.

He’s already brought back the long-form census so he and his team can make evidence-based decisions.  What a concept!  He’s not wasting any time calling MPs back to work and reconvening Parliament on December 3.

Plus in a wonderful and inspiring act of ‘inclusiveness’  he invited Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party, other party leaders and all provincial premiers to be part of the Canadian delegation heading to Paris at the end of the month for the United Nations summit on climate change.  Unlike Stephen Harper, who doesn’t believe we have a climate change problem.

Whereas Harper avoided the press at all costs, Trudeau’s invited them in.  Aside from all the press conferences and formal and informal conversations he’s had with them throughout his campaign, the press (and the public for the first time) were there when he, and his cabinet, were sworn in.  And he also granted the CBC’s chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, unprecedented behind-the-scenes access on his first day as Prime Minister.

Unlike in the US, where inaugurations are televised, I’ve lived in Canada my entire life and I never knew what happened when a Prime Minister was sworn in.  So I took full advantage of the access and watched the entire thing from about 9:00 in the morning to 1:00 in the afternoon.  It was really interesting and quite moving.

But where he’s blown me away the most is with his cabinet.  It’s smaller than Stephen Harper’s.  He delivered on his campaign promise of gender equality by choosing 15 women and 15 men.  Thanks to his majority win, all the regions are represented.  As are minorities.  What I really loved was the comment he made at his first press conference after being sworn in, when he described his liberal cabinet as “looking like Canada.”

It’s not just that he did it, though.  It’s how he did it:

A very wealthy, very successful Bay Street insider as Finance Minister.  A former Crown prosecutor and former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations as Justice Minister and Attorney General.   Our Minister of Democratic Institutions is a young woman who, along with her widowed mother and two sisters, fled to Canada from Afghanistan during Taliban rule.  A Paralympian who was named Canada’s most influential woman in sports six times is now Minister of Sports/Persons with Disabilities.

On and on it goes, 30 in total.  A combination of experience and fresh talent.  Not a ‘token’ appointment among them.  Yes, the newbies got their fair share of important jobs and the women and minorities were not relegated to the ‘obvious’ positions.  None there as payment for favours.  Each and every one strategically and thoughtfully chosen.

I also loved his response when a reporter asked him why gender equality was so important to him.  “Because it’s 2015,” he answered.

You haven’t heard me being this positive about anything political, well, ever, have you?  No need to search the archives, I can answer that.  No, you haven’t.  Because I haven’t felt this positive about politics in general and, more specifically, about Canada, and our future, in a long, long time.  Justin Trudeau has changed that, though.

Yay Canada!  Yay Justin!  Let’s go!!!

 

 

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