OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s fledgling government will have less than a month to get up and running before the new prime minister takes off for the first in a whirlwind series of international summits.
The international schedule will drive the speed with which the transition from Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to Trudeau’s Liberals takes place.
First up is the G20 summit in Turkey, from Nov. 15-16.
That’s followed immediately by the leader’s summit for Pacific Rim countries, in the Philippines on Nov. 18 and 19.
The Commonwealth heads of government summit is scheduled for Nov. 27-29 in Malta.
And then there’s the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
At some point prior to that conference, Trudeau will have to squeeze in a meeting with Canada’s premiers, with whom he’s promised to develop a national plan for cutting carbon emissions in time for Paris.
All that suggests Trudeau will want to swear in his cabinet and get down to business as quickly as possible. Neither he nor his ministers will be able to get briefings from deputy ministers until they’ve been sworn in.
Building his cabinet will be the first priority and one of the most difficult tasks. In addition to balancing representation from the various regions across the country, Trudeau has vowed to have as many women ministers as men.
He has plenty of new recruits and a number of old hands to choose from; and many of them are likely to be disappointed if, as expected, Trudeau opts for a relatively small cabinet. In a controversial email that sparked his resignation as Liberal campaign co-chair last week, Dan Gagnier predicted a cabinet of just 25 members.
Given the hectic international schedule, it remains to be seen whether Trudeau can squeeze in a date with Parliament before Christmas, with all the pomp and circumstance of a throne speech, which is required to open a new session.
For symbolic purposes — to be seen to be delivering on his key election promises — he may want to open Parliament quickly and introduce legislation implementing his promised tax cut for middle income earners and a tax hike for the wealthiest one per cent.
Trudeau has put together a team to guide the transition but the make-up of the team and its plans have been a closely guarded secret as Liberal insiders sought to avoid any perception that they were taking Monday’s win for granted.