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Mihychuk, Carr among ministers in Trudeau's cabinet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, after being sworn in as Canada's 23rd Prime Minister.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/SEAN KILPATRICK

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday, November 4, 2015, after being sworn in as Canada's 23rd Prime Minister.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/11/2015 (1617 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Canada’s 23rd prime minister promised sunny days ahead in his election campaign and he delivered just that as he was sworn into office on an unusually warm and sunny day in the nation’s capital Wednesday.

Thousands of Canadians, some of whom drove for hours overnight to get there on time, lined the paths and grounds of Rideau Hall Wednesday morning for a chance to be part of the day. They sipped on hot chocolate and crowded in front of giant television screens to view the proceedings.

In an unusual move, Trudeau and his new 30-member cabinet assembled on the lawn of 24 Sussex Drive across the street, and then walked together, led by a bagpiper, up the kilometre-long driveway towards Rideau Hall. He waved and shook hands with folks along the way, before disappearing inside to be sworn in.

When it was all over, he and his wife, Sophie Gregoire, were in a throng of media and fans, shaking hands, taking selfies and hugging children, as his RCMP security detail began to cope with an entirely new way of doing things.

It is all part of Trudeau’s insistence that his government will be open, accessible and consultative.

"We’re a government that wants to earn Canadians’ trust by demonstrating that we trust Canadians," Trudeau said, during the post-swearing in news conference.

Trudeau’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, was among the onlookers at the ceremony and both she and Gregoire were in tears as Trudeau took the oath of office. Trudeau said later he was also thinking of his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, although not exclusively.

"Obviously, I think of my father and how pleased he must be that Canada so firmly came together around an ambitious vision for the country that we presented," Trudeau said. "But my thoughts today — sorry, Dad — aren’t mostly on him. They’re very much on my own kids and on the kids across this country that we are going to work very, very hard to ensure they have a better future."

Trudeau’s agenda will really begin to play out starting December 3, when Parliament will resume for the first time since the election. That day the new speaker will be chosen. On December 4, Trudeau will deliver his first throne speech.

The swearing in

Trudeau named 30 people to his new cabinet Wednesday. One by one each minister approached the podium, took the oath of office, hugged Trudeau and shook hands with Governor General David Johnston before signing the oath books.

They all took the oaths in front of an audience that included former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, former governors general Adrienne Clarkson and Michaëlle Jean and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. Two 11-year-old throat singers from Ottawa performed near the beginning, and the new cabinet was ushered out to music from Métis fiddlers.

It is a cabinet that reflects gender equality (which was a campaign promise), and regional and ethnic diversity. There are 15 men and 15 women, as well as Trudeau. There are two Indigenous ministers and five visible minorities. Regionally, Ontario got 11 ministers, Quebec got six, and there are three from British Columbia, two each from Manitoba and Alberta, and one each from Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nunavut.

"It’s an incredible pleasure for me to be here today before you to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada," Trudeau said.

There are six former Liberal ministers in the group, including Ralph Goodale (public safety), John McCallum (immigration), Scott Brison (treasury board) and Carolyn Bennett (Indigenous Affairs).

There are 18 rookie MPs in the group, including Manitoba’s Jim Carr and MaryAnn Mihychuk. Carr will be natural resources minister and Mihychuk takes on employment, workforce development and labour.

New MPs got the nods in a number of key portfolios including Bill Morneau in Finance, Jody Wilson-Raybould in Justice and Catherine McKenna in Environment.

The locals

Mihychuk was all smiles throughout the day, which started before 9 a.m. when the new cabinet assembled in the lobby of the Delta Hotel in downtown Ottawa, included the swearing in ceremony at Rideau Hall, then her first cabinet meeting, a tour of her new department and her first briefing from her deputy minister. It ended with a private celebration of the new cabinet and their families on Parliament Hill.

MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labouris seen during a group photo after being sworn in Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/JUSTIN TANG

MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labouris seen during a group photo after being sworn in Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa.

Mihychuk met with Trudeau privately Oct. 29, where he asked her to take on the specific role as minister of employment, workforce development and labour but was sworn to secrecy until Wednesday’s announcement.

It has been 11 years since Mihychuk was last around a cabinet table. She resigned as minister of intergovernmental affairs in May 2004, to run for mayor of Winnipeg. She was also the minister of industry in Gary Doer’s NDP government between 1999 and 2003.

She is one of a small number of people in the new cabinet who has any cabinet experience — there are six former federal ministers and Mihychuk with provincial cabinet experience.

As Labour Minister, Mihychuk said one of her first priorities will be to rebuild a relationship between the government and unions, particularly the public sector unions which have been at loggerheads with the Harper government in recent years.

"I think the priority is to be responsible and show cooperation with labour, which has been feeling very alienated," she said.

She also said workforce development will be "an intense and important part of the portfolio."

Like Mihychyk, Jim Carr has had several days to get used to the idea of being in cabinet but Wednesday was still a heady experience.

"It’s a very exciting day," he said.

Minister of Natural Resources James Carr is seen during a group photo after being sworn in Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/JUSTIN TANG

Minister of Natural Resources James Carr is seen during a group photo after being sworn in Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa.

Carr, who will draw on his experience as a Liberal MLA in Manitoba, and his years as the founder of the Business Council of Manitoba, had his first briefing on his new portfolio immediately following the cabinet meeting.

Each of the new ministers was paraded in front of the national media to make a brief statement — another nod by Trudeau to be different than Harper, who ended the practice of ministers speaking to reporters after cabinet meetings.

The new ministers all spoke briefly, but said very little, mainly reiterating they had yet to be briefed on their new assignments and would have more to say in the days ahead.

As minister of natural resources, Carr takes on the difficult negotiations on the Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States. It’s something he hasn’t worked directly with before but says he knows the issue.

"I have been following it very carefully," he said.

He said his life will be about back-to-back briefings and meetings in the coming days.

Today he will start with an orientation for the 200-plus newly elected MPs, then have the first Liberal caucus meeting, and then return to his department for more briefings from his deputy minister and other staff.

The work ahead

With the business of becoming government now out of the way, Trudeau will actually start to govern. New house leader Dominic Leblanc said new tax measures, including a tax cut for the middle class and a tax hike on people making over $200,000, is the first legislative priority and the intent is to introduce that bill in December.

In the coming weeks Trudeau will head overseas for his first international trips, attending the APEC summit in the Philippines and the G20 leaders meeting in Turkey. He will also attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta, and then the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris at the end of November.

Developing Canada’s new climate change and emissions targets is high on the priority list, as is addressing a promise to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.

Many experts have said keeping that promise will be difficult because Canada may not have the resources on the ground to deal with that many people all at once. Trudeau did not address that Wednesday when asked saying only "we’re going to do it responsibly and properly, but we are going to keep the promises we made to Canadians to offer them the kind of country that we know we deserve."

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 at 10:14 AM CST: Corrects reference to Indigenous Affairs

10:25 AM: Updates with quotes, additional duties.

10:43 AM: Adds full list of MPs in cabinet

11:36 AM: Typo fixed.

2:17 PM: Sidebar added.

7:53 PM: Write-through, updates photos

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