Few politicians can decide on their legacy. Justin Trudeau is in a unique position after the election. Now elected three times, the last two with minority governments, he no longer needs to please everyone.
Trudeau is freer to make choices consistent with the identity he likes to project of himself and finally to fulfill certain unfulfilled promises.
Trudeau used to describe himself as “feminist”. On the other hand, we were looking for facts and gestures that could support such a “self-definition”. On Tuesday, he confused the skeptics.
It is enough to look at the hierarchy of its new Council of Ministers to be convinced of it. There are four women in the most important positions: Chrystia Freeland in Finance, Mélanie Joly in Foreign Affairs, Anita Anand in Defense and Mona Fortier in Treasury.
No other G20 country has such a record of women at the top of power.
If Trudeau does decide to bow out, he can still brag about being a prime minister who walked the talk on women’s equality.
CLIMATE: A BETRAYAL TO BE CORRECTED
But it was in the area of climate change that Trudeau surprised the most and fulfilled a promise that had so far remained unfulfilled.
I was in the room with Trudeau in Paris in 2015 when he thundered “Canada is back, my friends”.
Like everyone else, I understood that Canada was going to turn the page on the Harper era and stop being the class dunce when it came to climate change. What a mistake !
Much more discreetly, upon his return after the signing of the Paris Agreement, Trudeau let it be known that he was keeping Stephen Harper’s plan, schedule and targets! A complete betrayal.
Tragically, Canada has had the worst G7 record since Trudeau signed the Accord and we continue to wear a global donkey hat for our per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) production.
GUILBEAULT TO THE RESCUE
The election in 2019 of Steven Guilbeault gave a boost of hope. I was also present during his inauguration evening.
Environmentalists present were convinced, following Trudeau’s praise for his record, that Guilbeault would become Minister of the Environment if the Liberals won.
This promise has motivated many volunteers. Guilbeault pulled off a Liberal victory that seemed unlikely in this corner of Montreal. Trudeau, fearing the oil lobby and “Bay Street” – the financial sector in Toronto – was scared. He appointed Guilbeault to Heritage, a pure loss of talent. Such a waste !
Two years later, after coming under merciless attack during the recent campaign for his poor environmental performance, Trudeau resolved to act decisively.
On the eve of the crucial Glasgow Conference, Trudeau succeeded in restoring his image and that of Canada with the appointment of Guilbeault.
Like his appointment of four women at the highest level of his government, the choice of Guilbeault will allow Trudeau to positively influence the judgment that will be made on his record as Prime Minister of Canada.