Trudeau says new cabinet will be sworn in Nov. 20, rules out coalition
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today said he would swear in his new gender-balanced cabinet on Nov. 20.
After staying out of the spotlight on Tuesday following election night, Trudeau addressed the media in Ottawa, laying out how the next few weeks will look, which includes the swearing in of his new team – equal parts female and male, as in 2015 – that will lead his party through the 43rd parliamentary session.
He said "next decisions," like who exactly will fill those roles and what the government’s first priorities will be, will come over the next "days and weeks."
He also squashed speculation that the Liberals would form an alliance with another progressive party – likely the NDP – should they find themselves in a minority situation like they’re in now.
"I intend to sit down with all party leaders in the coming weeks to talk about their priorities about how we can work together to respond to the preoccupations that Canadians have," said Trudeau. "But I can tell you it is not in our plans at all to form any sort of formal or informal collation."
Reflecting on the outcome of Monday night, which brought his party to a minority rule and saw a blue wave throughout the West, Trudeau said more humbly, the results have given him "a lot to think about."
"They returned us to government but with a clear requirement to work with other priorities that Canadians spoke clearly to during the election campaign, particularly affordability and climate change. I'm going to take the time necessary to really reflect on how best to serve Canadians, how to work with the other parties," Trudeau said.
Taking stock of the campaign, the prime minister shared in the sentiment pundits, pollsters, and Canadians have also expressed: that the campaign was focused more on negative attacks as opposed to substantive policy discussions.
"I think there were a lot of issues that weren’t properly addressed, I think there were big substantive ideas that weren’t fully debated in this election campaign and I regret that," said Trudeau.
"Many of us regret the tone, the divisiveness, and the disinformation that were all too present features."
He also acknowledged the significance of the fact that not a single Liberal candidate was elected in Alberta or Saskatchewan, and discussed how he plans to navigate this rift.
"Any government needs to make sure it is hearing from every corner of the country," said Trudeau. "I very much want to hear the concerns that folks are experiencing and the solutions that they've had to put forward for a part of the country that has faced some very difficult times over the past years."
Calls have been made, he said, to Conservative premiers in the region, Jason Kenney and Scott Moe, about how the governments can better work together going forward.
Karim Bardeesy, co-founder of the Ryerson Leadership Lab, said that Canada’s current divisions can’t be attributed to policy decisions around climate change and the energy sector.
"[Trudeau] made a number of decisions around climate change for which he also had the national interest in mind – a carbon tax and arrangements to build one of three pipelines,” said Bardessy. “That he didn’t get the results he wanted in Western Canada doesn’t suggest to me that the policy positioning is wrong."
Massive support for the Conservatives might be a proxy for other frustrations, he added, and the prime minister’s office will have difficulty finding representation from the two provinces where Liberals got wiped out.
To that end, Trudeau has a number of options about how to form his cabinet to ensure the voices of all provinces, or at least regions, are included at the table.
According to Philippe Lagasse, associate professor at Carleton University and expert on Canada’s parliamentary system, the first option is to take a "minimalist" view of the expectation of regional representation.
"If you simply view it as ‘the West’ then you can rely on the ideas of your members from Manitoba and British Columbia. If you see it more as no the idea is not the West, but all provinces, then you’re in a bit more of a bind," told Lagasse to CTVNews.ca over the phone.
To get out of that bind, you can look to entice members from other parties to cross the floor with the promise of a cabinet appointment, but as Lagasse says, that would be unlikely.
"It wouldn’t just be floor-crossing in a regular sense. The provinces and voters in those provinces have overwhelmingly voted for one party. If you were to lure someone across the floor, that would be a fairly contentious move."
The third option, while less sensitive, is also fraught with political complexity given the Liberals’ first-term mandate to make the Senate more "Independent."
In this circumstance, he would pluck a senator from one of the Western provinces and move them over to cabinet, something former prime minister Stephen Harper did in 2006 to ensure Quebec representation.
"We’ve always had a tradition that you can use the senate to shore up any lacuna that you have in the Commons for cabinet composition and that’s something we’ve done for quite some time. That’s an important principle," said Lagasse.
The prime minister said he would be "reflecting" on this decision over the next few days.