05 November 2015

A fine, feminine cabinet

Good to see that Prime Minister Trudeau (haven't said that for a while) has kept an important promise and formed a gender-balanced cabinet. He said his cabinet would reflect Canada and a 50-50 male/female cabinet does just that.

Not surprisingly, some detractors insist that cabinet appointments should be made strictly on merit. They never have, of course. Other factors have always been important—regional interests, bilingualism, ethnic background, balancing veterans and rookies, etc. Merit has never been more than one factor.

And who's to say gender balance doesn't enhance merit. Our political system has been built over the centuries by men for men. It heavily favours a male ethos—aggressive to the point of belligerent, competitive to the point of ruthless—and therefore male politicians. This has created an atmosphere in which many women (and more-civilized men) are not comfortable.

One woman member of the British House of Commons once referred to behaviour in the chamber as “very public-schoolboy primitive,” a description that applies aptly to our House. Former Calgary MP Jan Brown opined that party politics creates, “an unnatural and combative setting that does not support positive relationships. A place,” she added, “where power and gamesmanship determine the rules.” One result of rules flaunting masculine culture and male libidos is a shortage of women in politics. Affirmative action is simply leveling the playing field.

Balancing the cabinet is not only fair but should encourage more women to go into politics, which would be good for women, but more importantly good for all of us. As we devour and pollute our planet, never have we been more in need of the feminine ethos in governance, more empathy and more caring. Trudeau's cabinet is an immediate start in bringing more of these traits into our current government. This should do nothing but good.

As a postscript, I should express my delight at the appointment of one of these women in particular. I refer to the highly-qualified Jody Wilson-Raybould assuming the mantle of Minister of Justice. Who better to appreciate the needs of justice in Canadian society than a Native person? Ms. Wilson-Raybould was reported as having been overcome with emotion at her swearing in. I confess I felt a flutter of emotion myself.

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