OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau and his team have made their way to Rideau Hall as they get ready to be sworn in as the new federal government.
Trudeau, holding the hand of his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, led his ministers-to-be on a walk up the long driveway leading to the mansion, which was lined with a throng of well-wishers and onlookers.
Spectators spilled across the grounds of the Governor General’s residence under brilliant fall colours and warm autumn sunshine as the Liberal group stepped off a bus at the main gate and strolled up the drive.
Veteran MPs like Stephane Dion, Ralph Goodale, Marc Garneau, Scott Brison, Dominic LeBlanc, Kirsty Duncan, Carolyn Bennett, Lawrence MacAulay and John McCallum were among the arrivals.
They waved to the crowd as bagpipes skirled a welcome.
Other cabinet members include Chrystia Freeland, the Toronto MP who joined the Liberal ranks in a byelection in 2013, as well as upstart Catherine McKenna, who defeated the NDP’s Paul Dewar.
Also spotted were some of Trudeau’s hand-picked star recruits: Bill Morneau, tapped in some media reports as a possible finance minister, as well as Jim Carr, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Melanie Joly and Jody Wilson-Raybould.
The group also included Patty Hajdu from northern Ontario; Diane Lebouthillier, from Quebec’s Gaspesie; and Maryam Monsef, whose family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan.
They arrived shortly after a statement from a Rideau Hall spokesperson confirmed that Stephen Harper had resigned as the country’s 22nd prime minister.
The happy crowd of onlookers ran the gamut from toddlers to pensioners.
Lisa Chrolavicius, 38, of Ottawa watched the arrival with five-month-old son Justin cradled to her chest.
The name of her son, she says, was a coincidence, “but we thought we’d see if Justin could meet Justin.” Chrolavicius said she came to “feel the positive energy” of her country.
Bob Johnston recalled seeing Trudeau’s father, Pierre, being sworn in some 47 years ago.
“Canada’s been at a fork in the road,” Johnston said. “We’ve taken the correct fork and I want to feel like I’m part of the first step.”
Jack Skelly ,16, of Crofton, B.C., said he’s been in Ottawa for three days.
“I can’t vote yet, but it’s the future of the country that I’m living in,” Skelly said. “And when I can vote he’s still going to be prime minister, so it doesn’t really matter to me because this is the person I would like running our country.
“Seeing him getting sworn in is like maybe a once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
The new Liberal prime minister and cabinet are scheduled to hold their first meeting later today.
They are widely expected to take immediate action on their campaign promise to reinstate the long-form census, signalling the start of a new era starkly different from that of Harper’s Conservative government.