Not all cabinet ministers equal, critic says

Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look on as Bardish Chagger is swornin as Minister of Small Business and Tourism during ceremonies at Rideau Hall, Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not meet his promise to have gender parity in his cabinet after appointing five women to minister of state roles, a Tory MP criticizes.

“Fantastic to see women in cabinet, but don’t say they have equal responsibilities when they don’t,” Michelle Rempel wrote on Twitter on Thursday night.

She asked people to “count the number of women chairing cabinet committees.” Seven of 10 committees are chaired by men.

The main committee of cabinet “makes the big decisions. Spoiler: no gender parity,” she tweeted.

The cabinet committee is made up of 11 members including the chair. Four of the members are women and six are men, but Trudeau is chair, bringing the number of men to seven.

Trudeau unveiled his historic cabinet on Wednesday that featured 15 men and 15 women. But a report on iPolitics brought into question the status of five female MPs, who were named as ministers of state in the orders in council (OIC) notes.

Marie-Claude Bibeau (international development and la Francophonie), Bardish Chagger (small business and tourism), Kristy Duncan (science), Patricia Hajdu (status of women) and Carla Qualtrough (sport and persons with disabilities) were all described as “a Minister of State to be styled minister” of their portfolio in the notes.

All five women also report to another cabinet minister and do not have their own department, technically making them junior ministers. Duncan and Chagger will assist Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, Hajdu and Qualtrough will answer to Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly, while Bibeau will serve under Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.

None of the men appointed to cabinet were given minister of state positions.

A Liberal source who spoke only on background about the cabinet appointments, told Yahoo Canada News there are “bureaucratic hoops” but “our intention is that these are all full ministers and they are equal. There is no difference between them.”

The ministers will be expected to attend meetings, they will have the delegated authority of a minister and there are plans in place to pay them the same amount as other ministers, retroactive to their appointments this week.

Ministers of state traditionally make about $20,000 less than full cabinet ministers.

Yahoo Canada News sent multiple email messages to the five MPs. None of them responded for a request for comment.

After he appointed his cabinet on Wednesday, Trudeau was asked why having gender parity was important.

“Because it’s 2015,” he said.

That statement was described as a “mic drop” moment by many on social media, meaning nothing more needed to be said, and received high praise from many, including actress and equal rights activist Emma Watson.

“Coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. (Love) u Canada,” she tweeted.

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