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Trudeau's First Steps

Promising, But Not Revolutionary

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves at the conclusion of a news conference in Ottawa, Canada, November 2015. Chris Wattie / Reuters

“Sunny ways, my friends. Sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do,” said Justin Trudeau, the new Canadian prime minister, in his victory speech in Montreal on October 19. The remarks were a direct nod to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, a former Canadian prime minister known for his pleasant manner and ability to forge compromises. Trudeau’s speech underscored how different he would be from his conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, whom the Canadian historian Robert Bothwell recently called “the most cynical prime minister in Canadian history.”

After a 78-day campaign in which identity issues featured prominently, Trudeau’s first steps have been to emphasize diversity. His 31-member cabinet, which he unveiled as one that looks “like Canada,” is the most diverse the country has ever seen. Two indigenous Canadians were tapped to become minister of justice and attorney general; a Muslim woman of Afghan descent, Maryam Monsef, who came to Canada

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