By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press
Ottawa: Fifteen women from different walks of life took positions Wednesday in the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history, in portfolios that will include hot policy files for the new government.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, a lawyer and former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, was sworn in as justice minister, becoming the first aboriginal person to hold the post.
She follows in the footsteps of Tory Kim Campbell and Liberal Anne McLellan. Wilson-Raybould will have to tackle the legalization of marijuana, physician-assisted death, and the retooling of anti-terror legislation introduced by the Conservatives.
Ottawa lawyer and NGO director Catherine McKenna takes on the environment and climate change portfolio, just as world leaders prepare to meet in Paris for international climate change talks.
McKenna’s win over popular NDP MP Paul Dewar in downtown Ottawa was one of the most notable victories of the 2015 election.
Former journalist and media manager Chrystia Freeland becomes trade minister, the first women in the job since Pat Carney held the post in Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government in the 1980s. She will have the finalization of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on her plate.
Other women in cabinet include longtime MP Carolyn Bennett as minister of indigenous and northern affairs and former Manitoba politician and geoscientist MaryAnn Mihychuk as employment, workforce development and labour minister.
The overall swearing-in ceremony gave a high profile to several other women, including Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charette, appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Trudeau’s incoming chief of staff, Katie Telford, was cheered by Liberal activists as she walked up the drive to Rideau Hall before the swearing-in.
Two young Inuit girls began the ceremony with a throat-singing performance. Former governors general Michaelle Jean and Adrienne Clarkson were given prominent seats at the event.