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I dreamed of an all-women cabinet and it was beautiful

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Image: Flickr/Olivia Chow

I could claim "last night I had the strangest dream..."  It had to do with International Women's Day. And suddenly the male leadership decided it had really made too big a mess of things to be able to continue in good conscience.... And....political parties vaporized at the astonishing voluntary surrendering of power.. and with no parties... somehow the House of Commons reconvened with me as Prime Minister.

Now, given the chance, I get to assemble the best Cabinet I can.  And I decide to put together Canada's first all-woman, all-party Cabinet. (It's only fair.  Through most of our history Canada had all male Cabinets).  And the nice thing is, there is no shortage of talent right now in the House of Commons.

Justice Minister is obvious -- Francoise Boivin, whip-smart lawyer. I would beg Libby Davies not to leave so I could get her to take over Employment and Social Development and set up a new national housing programme.  The Health Minister should be Dr. Carolyn Bennett, a medical doctor and former Minister of Public Health.  Minister of Environment should be a scientist who has served on the IPCC -- Dr. Kirsty Duncan.  That other dynamo Duncan, Linda Duncan of the NDP, also has great credentials to run Environment Canada as she was once director of prosecutions there. Her expertise should be just as valuable in Natural Resources, working through a new mandate in sustainability.

I'd keep Kerry-Lynne Findlay in National Revenue. She has a heart of gold and legal background. With consensus decision making to actually run a fair tax system, she'd be great. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hélène Laverdière, former foreign service officer, is someone who could reverse the disastrous efforts to eliminate Canada's legendary professional diplomat civil service.

Rona Ambrose did a solid job in Public Works, running one of the cleanest procurement processes in Canada's history.  So, I'd ask her to go to PWC again.  Joy Smith could head a new division of justice to end human trafficking. And Diane Ablonczy, who is the most able of Conservative MPs relegated to minor posts in the old Harper Regime, would be a good reformer at Treasury Board. We could start by ensuring equal pay for work of equal value in the federal civil service.

For Minister of Finance I pick Peggy Nash, who has a better grip on finance than Joe Oliver, sticking to facts against a chorus of expectations that any NDP idea will be loopy by definition.  

Lisa Raitt is a sensible grounded pragmatist.  I'd ask her to fix the mess in Public Safety and put in place real accountability with parliamentary oversight.  I think Michele Rempel would be great as minister for International Development running a newly restored CIDA.  Christia Freeland could take any number of portfolios, but I think she'd like Trade.  For Agriculture, Megan Leslie with a new focus on local and sustainable food production. Fisheries currently has a woman minister, and, while I like Gail Shea, I think the legacy of the decisions she defended in the Harper regime, mean we should get a new minister.  Judy Foote from Newfoundland and Labrador knows how important sustainable fisheries are to this country, so I'd give her a chance to repair the department and reinstate habitat protections eliminated under C-38.  

Even with the current Parliament, I know we could do so much better without hyper-partisanship, through consensus decisionmaking.

Of course, I'd have many more women to choose from after the next election and the addition of Green MPs --  Jo-Ann Roberts for Heritage (Green candidate in Victoria) to plan the re-establishment of our national public broadcaster. Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi (future Green MP in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) to take over Aboriginal and Northern Affairs and create the education programme for Aboriginal children that Canada needs. Dr. Lynne Quarmby, Simon Fraser University head of the Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Dept and first MP for the new riding of Burnaby-North Seymour, setting up the renewed scientific capacity of the Government of Canada.  Frances Litman (Green MP for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) for Transport and newly Green Deborah Coyne, who has served on Immigration and Refugee boards, should take over that department.

Don't worry.  The Green Party does not have an agenda to eliminate men from decisionmaking.  How could we exclude half our population?  But just for fun on International Women's Day, it's a nice dream. 

 

This article originally appeared on Elizabeth May's blog.

Image: Flickr/Olivia Chow

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