An example for the rest of the world.
They really have come a long way since 25 years ago when there was a huge controversy over whether Sikhs could be allowed to wear the turban in the Royal Canadian Mounties.
Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet of 30 includes two aboriginal members of parliament and five other ministers from ethnic minotiries, including three Sikh politicians. The full cabinet here.
The previous prime minister, Stephen Harper, had a reputation for centralising power in the prime minister’s office, dominating cabinet decisions and undermining democratic rights while playing to the gallery with identity politics, which encouraged intolerance of minorities. His government was plagued by corruption scandals. Sound familiar?
Harper also had little time for climate change – he was an environmental disaster of a PM, more interested in promoting Canadian oil. Neither did he want much to do with the first nations people.
A commentator in The Guardian dubbed Harper “the last remnant of George W Bush in North America”; not surprisingly, he was happy to allow Canada to join in the US military adventures in the Middle East.
So, ironically, it was Harper himself who motivated many Canadians into taking their government back.
Trudeau’s Liberal party, however, had backed Harper’s C-51 surveillance law (Canada’s version of the Patriot Act) and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
But the Liberals cleverly campaigned against austerity when their opponents shifted to the right in economic policy.
One analyst warned that the Liberals have a “long history of running on the left and governing from the right”. The party has a history of being a ‘corporate’ party, financially supported by corporations. Will that change now? (We too should be careful about opting for change via any party which is under strong corporate influence and funding.)
Of interest to us now is, what will happen to Petronas’ massive and controversial project in British Columbia? Canada’s new environmental minister Catherine McKenna, a lawyer, made a lot of environmental pledges (about clean tech and low carbon emissions) during the campaign, which she will now have to fulfil.
All in, a lot of lessons for us here in Malaysia, if we care to look more closely.