Because it's 2015: equality needs to stay on the agenda | What's Left

The first week of the Liberal government is a classic case in point of the Liberals “talk left, govern right” practice. The Liberals were forced to backtrack and clarify cabinet appointments after they were called out for saying one thing about equality and doing another.

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The Liberals were sworn-in on Wednesday and the country celebrated with great gusto the thaw of a decade under a dark Harper regime that too often was anti-women. The ceremony itself was meant to celebrate Trudeau’s first fulfilled promise to appoint as many women as men to cabinet minister positions. Responding to a question about why he chose to have gender parity in his cabinet, Trudeau’s answer was “Because it’s 2015”. However, this pomp and circumstance belied the fact that the most powerful cabinet appointments remained in the hands of men. The truth seemed to be that a third of the women were appointed as Ministers of State – a position that traditionally earns a smaller salary, has less power, and reports to a more senior (usually male) Minister.

After an uproar from activists that pointed out this hypocrisy, the Liberals were forced to clarify on Friday that all ministers were going to be treated equally.

The whole situation should serve as a warning for what’s to come. Usurping progressive language such as equality, social and economic justice, and Indigenous rights will be too easy for the Liberals who will operate in reaction to the Harper decade. The need to clarify, respond, and analyze government positions words and actions will be of great importance for the left in the next four years.

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