“Because It’s 2015” – A Canadian Moment

For my Post-Confederation Canadian History class (HIST 2783 x2), it was a requirement that students form small groups and complete a term project that helps promote the notion that Canadian History is absolutely NOT boring. For this assignment, we were expected to select an event from Canadian history and find a way to publicly circulate and promote awareness of the particular event, to again provide evidence that Canadian history is not boring!

My group has selected 4 different events to highlight in the format of a timeline, but selected this particular event, “Because it’s 2015,” for publishing as it is not only one of the most recent, but the most relative to us today. While looking at this event, we also went into detail to research the different perspectives this event can be interpreted.

Our now current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, delivered this well-known phrase as a response to the question around the importance of gender-balance within the cabinet. Trudeau spoke to his campaign promise of a “fair and open government,” and put this into action by ensuring the “cabinet reflects Canada.” On November 4, 2015, Trudeau selected 15 men and 15 women as members of the caucus. The Canadian Press states that this is “the first gender-balanced ministerial team in [Canada’s] history.”

Though there was much support for this action taken by the federal government, there was also pushback and protest against it. The implementation of a 50:50 government can be interpreted as a positive step forward for women, as well as society, but can also be critiqued and argued that selection of candidates should be based on the consideration of skills alone, rather than incorporating gender and race into the process.

Trudeau announces “the more diverse your organization, your board, or in this case, cabinet, the more it reflects the realities of the population we are serving.” With this kind of thinking, Trudeau was able to enact gender parity within the cabinet caucus, and was able to experience the “incredible pleasure to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada.”

Many who are resistant to the implementation of a gender-balanced cabinet express concerns that –as Althia Raj shares in a Huffington Post article– “women were favored over male counterparts … no doubt as a direct result of Trudeau’s promised gender parity.” Though there is a variety of responses and emotions toward the reality of gender parity within the cabinet caucus, there is no denying that this is indeed a significant event in Canadian history. The irony of that statement is that although we consider this event historic to Canadian heritage, it has just begun; we are currently living in the era where gender equality is in fact a public issue, on the political agenda opposed to earlier times when this was not so. Someday in the future, we will look back at this historical event and wonder how gender equality was even an issue that needed to be resolved.

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