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Branding a prime minister: What to expect from Trudeau's swearing-in ceremony

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/11/2015 (1619 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Canada’s 23rd prime minister will be sworn into office Wednesday morning and he will do it in the same fashion as he just campaigned: surrounded by his adoring fans.

Forty-seven years and 198 days after his father, Justin Trudeau will stand before Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall, take the oath of office, sign the oath book, and then present his cabinet for swearing in.

He will become the second youngest prime minister in Canadian history, and the first son of a previous prime minister to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Everything about the event will be stage managed to keep things in line with the brand Trudeau wants on his government: open, accessible and connected to the public.

The public are invited to attend and there will be giant television screens erected outside Rideau Hall for people to view the ceremony.

Instead of arriving in chauffeur-driven cars and motorcades, Trudeau and his new cabinet ministers will arrive at the grounds on a bus and then make their way up the main path towards Rideau Hall on foot.

It’s all part of the signal to the public things are going to be very different with Trudeau at the helm.

Jonathan Rose, a politics professor at Queen’s University who specializes in political communication and branding, said even a cabinet announcement is critical to providing the public with the right image.

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau enters his car after taking a tour of the West Block construction site on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday.


Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau enters his car after taking a tour of the West Block construction site on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday.

"All governments try to imprint their style early on," said Rose. "I think symbols are really important in politics. It helps to frame in the minds of the public what the government is all about."

For Trudeau and the Liberals, that presentation will be in sharp contrast to the outgoing government of Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, which was perceived as closed off to the public, and with power almost exclusively concentrated in Harper’s office. Ministers were mainly considered mouthpieces rather than true decision makers.

Government communications since 2011 have referred to the Harper Government, rather than the Government of Canada.

In contrast, press releases issued by the government after tomorrow will not refer to the Trudeau Government, but to the Government of Canada, a Liberal spokeswoman said.

Rose said giving the public a chance to interact with the prime minister is all part of the style the Trudeau Liberals are playing up.

"This is part of the way he creates an image and that kind of goodwill with the public is important as they face some tough decisions in the coming months," said Rose.

There were 39 ministers in the last Harper cabinet, although Harper started out with just 27.

Word from within the Liberal party is that Trudeau will name 28 ministers to his cabinet, split evenly between men and women, and reflective of both the regions and ethnic diversity of the country. There will be a nod to experience with the inclusion of people like Ralph Goodale and Scott Brison, both of whom served in cabinet before. But Trudeau will also put his own stamp on his cabinet with many new faces.

The names on most speculation lists include former Assembly of First Nations regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould, former business journalist Chrystia Freeland, Montreal lawyer Mélanie Joly and retired general Andrew Leslie.


Dan Lett: Which Manitoba MPs will get portfolios?


The party is being incredibly tight lipped with its cabinet picks and the MPs who were given the nod have been told if they leak their good news before the ceremony they will be out of cabinet before they ever get in it.

The Free Press has confirmed new Manitoba Liberal MPs Dan Vandal, Terry Duguid, Doug Eyolfson and Robert-Falcon Ouellette will not be in the cabinet.

Jim Carr and MaryAnn Mihychuk are believed to be the front runners and it’s unknown whether Manitoba will get one seat or two. Neither could be reached Tuesday for comment but Mihychuk was seen arriving at the Ottawa airport Tuesday.

Mihychuk, 60, was used prominently by the party during the campaign as part of its national economic team, she is the only female Liberal MP elected in the prairie region and is the only Liberal MP from Manitoba who has prior cabinet experience. She was both industry minister and intergovernmental affairs minister in Gary Doer’s NDP government in Manitoba between 1999 and 2003.

Carr, 64, was the deputy Liberal leader in Manitoba briefly and an MLA. He is a musician by training and also worked as a journalist at the Free Press editorial board before founding the Business Council of Manitoba.

The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. CST, and will be broadcast online.

Trudeau will speak to the public outside Rideau Hall around 11:20 a.m. CST.

The new cabinet is set to meet for the first time this afternoon.



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Updated on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 9:15 PM CST: Minor edits.

November 4, 2015 at 8:41 AM: Adds live feed

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