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Women’s ranks grow in cabinet, but top posts elude them

Kellie Leitch is sworn in as Minister of Labour at Rideau Hall on July 15, 2013.

DAVE CHAN/The Globe and Mail

Stephen Harper kicked off the unveiling of his new cabinet with a post on the social networking website Twitter that said: "Proud to be naming four new strong, capable women to the Ministry."

But, given the departures of Diane Ablonczy from the consular affairs portfolio and Marjory Lebreton from the government's top job in the Senate, the number of female ministers has increased from 10 to just 12 in a cabinet of 39 people.

And none of the top economic jobs, or high-profile positions like Defence or Foreign Affairs, went to women.

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"I think there is room for some women who are appointed to make marks with their portfolio, but, through the lens of what's important to the Prime Minister, they're not there," said New Democrat MP Megan Leslie.

The biggest promotions from outside cabinet went to Shelly Glover, a former cop from Manitoba who is the new Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and Kellie Leitch, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon from Ontario who is the Minister of Labour and Minister for Status of Women.

Two other women were elevated to junior cabinet jobs. Candice Bergen, who was the government's lead voice in the dismantling of the gun registry, is the Minister of State for Social Development, while Calgary MP Michelle Rempel is the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.

"As a young woman in politics, it also gives me great pleasure to see additional female cabinet representation here today," Ms. Rempel told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony. "You know, these are very high levels of representation for women around the cabinet table, and I think that that's something that's very important to me."

Lisa Raitt moves to Transport. Leona Aglukkaq goes to Environment. Rona Ambrose will take over in Health. Diane Finley gets Public Works. Kerry-Lynne Findlay gets a promotion to Revenue Minister. And Lynne Yelich becomes Minister of State for Consular Affairs.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More


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