EDITORIAL: Liberal cabinet a good test case

Installing more women in leadership roles makes good sense

Prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau has vowed to have an equal gender split in his cabinet, to be announced next week.

That declaration plays well into this Friday’s (Oct. 30) panel discussion at Royal Roads University, entitled Women Leading Change, seemingly a play on the “Real Change” campaign slogan of Trudeau’s Liberals. The panelists and keynote speaker, all women, have each held positions of leadership and most have studied the topic at length. We look forward to hearing the tone of the discussion and how they believe life experiences can help women shape leadership practises, including those in government, moving forward.

As expected, not everyone was thrilled with Trudeau’s decision to create an even split in his cabinet. On social media, some criticized him, pointing out that it may be irresponsible to not install the best candidate for each post. Historically, as female political veterans can attest, that hasn’t always happened as the old boys’ network has tended to dominate.

The numbers from last week’s federal election were moderately encouraging. Eighty-eight women were elected, or 26 per cent of the total of 338 seats. While that’s 12 more female voices in the house – representing about 40 per cent of the 30 new ridings – it’s barely higher than the 25 per cent in the previous Parliament.

Nonetheless, it was good to see more women running. Among the big three parties, the NDP had the closest to a gender split. Of its 338 candidates, 146 (43.2 per cent) were women, and 18 of its elected MPs (40.9 per cent) are female. The Liberals will have the most women, 50, in Parliament, or roughly 27 per cent of their total of 184 MPs. The Conservatives lagged well behind, with just 17.2 per cent of its 99 seats (17 MPs) to be held by women.

Balancing the cabinet is a bold move by Trudeau and makes a statement unparalleled in Canadian federal government history. In doing so he is showing faith and trust in the abilities of women who might not otherwise have the opportunity to show what they can do.

We’re confident these newcomers will shine when put in positions of leadership, even under the harsh glare of the old guard.

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