Mélanie Joly, a former litigation lawyer and the recently elected member of Parliament for Montreal’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville riding, has been named Canadian heritage minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new cabinet.
Joly holds degrees in law from University of Montreal and Oxford. She worked at two major law firms – including Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg, where she was mentored by former Parti Quebecois premier Lucien Bouchard – before switching to a career in communications. She headed the Quebec advisory committee for Trudeau’s Liberal leadership campaign.
Joly founded the municipal political party Vrai changement pour Montréal in 2013, and finished in a strong second place when she ran for mayor later that year, on a platform that included strong promotion and support of the city’s culture and cultural identity.
The 36-year-old minister has sat on a variety of professional culture boards and committees, including those of the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum, Ballets Jazz de Montréal, the Montreal Bach Festival, and the Laval Symphony Orchestra. In 2010 she received the Arnold Edinborough Award, which recognizes young professional volunteerism in the arts. She is also the author of the book Changer les règles de jeu (Changing the Rules of the Game), an examination of the Canadian political system.
The heritage minister’s portfolio oversees the country’s arts industry, and includes the Canada Council for the Arts, Library and Archives Canada, the CBC, Telefilm Canada, and others.
In a statement following the swearing in of Canada’s 29th cabinet on Nov. 4, Prime Minister Trudeau said his government planned to “reinvest in our cultural and creative industries.”