Can you tell us about a defining personal experience that helped to drive your commitment to preserving the Environment?
My family’s relationship with the outdoors – with Canada’s natural beauty – has been a lifelong one for me. My dad taught us Trudeau boys how to paddle a canoe almost as soon as we could walk. And like many Canadians, I’ve spent many summer nights out under the stars, beside a campfire, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and black flies. My dad was never a fan of bug spray.
I’ve always believed that when it comes to our environment, we Canadians get it. We appreciate its beauty, understand its dangers, and know its value.
Please tell us about personal experiences earlier in your life that contributed to your very proactive stance on helping refugees immigrate to Canada.
I was aware very early on that the country we know and love was built by those who fled oppression, famine, and war – those who left everything behind to start anew in a strange and faraway land. My father was a champion of multiculturalism. He taught me that dialogue, conviction, and compassion constitute the only real path toward peace and understanding. Above all, he taught me that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.
As Canadians, we take great pride in our history of opening our arms and our borders to those in need, no matter one’s faith, culture, or where they’re from. We define ourselves through our compassion, and know we have a responsibility to continue opening our doors to our most vulnerable neighbours around the world. It was an honour to personally greet several Syrian refugee families earlier this year when they landed in Canada. Meeting them one by one, and seeing the delight in their eyes, only reinforced my beliefs.
One might consider the results of the last election as the repudiation of individual selfish goals, in favour of a commitment to the common good of Canadian society and our support of people around the world. To what degree do you agree with this, and could you comment?
I think the campaign we ran was based on putting fear aside and choosing instead to have confidence in Canada, Canadians, and the fundamental values that have come to define this country. We embraced hard work – not cynicism. We beat out negative, divisive politics with a positive, hopeful vision to bring Canadians together.
Across the country, at every campaign stop, I told Canadians, “In Canada, better is always possible.” I think that this optimism, along with our pledge to accept 25,000
Syrian refugees, and our promise to make government more open and transparent resonated not only with Canadians – but with people around the world.
To what degree is your political career informed by the example and insight afforded to you by your father?
When I think about my father’s work-life balance, I think of it in terms of how he brought us with him on so many world trips – that having us along with him kept him balanced and made him a better leader.
Before I became Prime Minister, when I used to drive back to Montréal, after three days in Ottawa, I would look back and ask myself, “Okay, did the work I do in Ottawa contribute to a world that is better enough to compensate for the fact that I wasn’t there to put my kids to bed for three nights in a row?”
Having this touchstone – linking this important job to real life and real people and a real impact on a human level – is something that my father modelled for me.
I have a theory that Canada had an identity crisis because it has no national ego in the way many countries do (nationalism, etc.). And that now that we have grown up to be such a robustly multicultural society, we are reflecting the characteristics of the ideal global citizenry – tolerant, compassionate, egalitarian. What is your feeling about this?
We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages, and religions, who are bound by one, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but precisely because of them.
Peace, freedom, respect, compassion, inclusivity, and diversity – these are our cherished Canadian values. As Canada moves toward a greater leadership role in the world, I am confident that these values will remain synonymous with the maple leaf, “Canada,” and “Canadian.”