McKenna, LeBlanc touted as likely cabinet picks from lawyer-heavy caucus

The swearing in ceremony of prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau and his cabinet on Wednesday will mark the beginning of a lawyer-heavy Liberal majority government reign for the next four years.

“I think lawyers are terrific, and if the public does not think so, I do,” says Ralph Lean, a lawyer heavily involved in politics, of the presence of a large number of members of the legal profession in the new government’s caucus.

The 184-member government caucus includes 43 MPs with law degrees, according to the Liberal Party of Canada.

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According to Lean, Catherine McKenna of Ottawa Centre is one of the most notable lawyers elected to the House of Commons last month with a strong shot at a cabinet position. She’s one of eight women lawyers in the Liberal caucus.

Her background includes serving as executive director of Canadian Lawyers Abroad and practising at leading firms in both Canada and Indonesia with a focus on international trade, competition, investment, and constitutional matters. She comes to Parliament after defeating NDP veteran Paul Dewar last month.

“I’ve heard very good things about her from the Liberals I know,” says Lean.

Other lawyers in the Liberal caucus include Prof. David Lametti of the McGill University Faculty of Law; Will Amos who has a background in environmental law and natural resources; and Nicola Di Iorio, whose practice focuses on labour and employment law.

Veteran MP Dominic LeBlanc is another lawyer Lean believes will be in cabinet. “He’s been around for a very long time, he is very close to Trudeau. I think he probably will go in,” says Lean.

Despite the heavy presence of lawyers, he’s not sure it’s particularly important to have so many of them in the government caucus.

“Other than the attorney general and minister of justice, you don’t necessarily need a bunch of lawyers,” he says.

Nevertheless, the lawyer-heavy governing caucus is a change from more recent federal elections and is definitely a difference from the situation at the provincial level in Ontario where just seven lawyers won seats at Queen’s Park in 2014.

Among the considerations this week, Lean notes, is Trudeau’s commitment to gender parity in cabinet. “I am always hopeful that the prime minister of whatever party chooses the best candidate,” says Lean, a well-known Conservative.

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