Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new cabinet on Tuesday. The 38 ministers were sworn in by Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon at a ceremony in Ottawa. As in his first two terms, Trudeau will work with a team of peers. The arrival of Anita Anand to the defense portfolio is one of the most commented on moves and more results are expected. His task will not be light: to bring about profound transformations in a ministry clouded by multiple instances of harassment and assault. “We know there is a crisis in the culture of our Canadian Forces and the women and men serving there deserve better support, they deserve a change in the type of government they have,” Trudeau said.
Anand replaces Harjit Sajjan, who has headed the ministry since Justin Trudeau came to power in November 2015. For months, opposition figures had demanded that Trudeau replace Sajjan for his reckless handling of the crisis that hit the ministry. Two reports have described a climate conducive to crimes of a sexual nature, in which opacity stands out, and have proposed a series of recommendations to apply.
This problem does not only affect the troops. Members of the High Command have also been selected. General Jonathan Vance and Admiral Art McDonald, former Armed Forces Chiefs of Staff, have come under scrutiny, as have nine other high-profile military officers. Sajjan said at the time that he took “accusations of misconduct seriously” and would continue to take decisive action “regardless of rank or position”. However, the image of the ministry continued to deteriorate. Experts advised Trudeau to hire a woman to launch a strategy aimed at a profound culture change, greater focus on victims and an effort to rebuild trust in the institution.
Before making the leap into politics, Anita Anand (Kentville, Nova Scotia, aged 54) worked as a lawyer and college professor. As a Liberal deputy for the Oakville, Ontario constituency, she assumes her new roles after serving as Secretary of Public Services, where she stood out for the responsibility of purchasing vaccines against Covid-19. She is the second woman in Canada to head the Department of Defense. The first was Kim Campbell, who served for five months in 1993. “One of the things people will learn about Anita Anand in the coming months is that she is a world-class governance expert with decades of professional experience,” Trudeau said, emphasizing that Anand will demonstrate leadership and contribute significantly to armed forces operations. .
Among other new cabinet appointments, Harjit Sajjan happens to hold the International Development portfolio; Mélanie Joly becomes Minister of Foreign Affairs and Steven Guilbeaut becomes Minister of the Environment. Chrystia Freeland will remain finance minister and deputy prime minister. Justin Trudeau ran for a third term in the September 20 election, though he failed to form a majority government, which his aim was to provoke this election. Parliamentary work will start on 22 November.
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