“Are you sure about this?”
“Why has it always been done this way?”
“How can we do it differently next time?”
These are the questions Prime Minister Trudeau says we need to be asking. It’s important to question the status quo, says he, and often it is the youth who are the best at asking these kinds of questions.
Canada’s current Liberal government is something very new and fresh. The result of just such a period of questioning the status quo and pushing for change, the Trudeau parliament has so far shown itself to be more egalitarian and inclusive.
When news spread of a gay employee being bullied at Valentine’s Day, the Prime Minister and members of his cabinet sent the young man a love letter to remind him that he had many more friends than enemies.
When Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger learned he has ALS and informed the Prime Minister he would have to withdraw his candidacy for Speaker of the House, Trudeau’s government made him Honorary Speaker for a day. The Prime Minister’s deep caring showed not only in his official greeting in the House, but also in the tight embrace he gave to Bélanger’s wife as her husband was escorted into Parliament by an honour guard.
“Because It’s 2015”
As I’ve mentioned before, Justin Trudeau is the second in his line to serve as Canada’s Prime Minister. His father Pierre Trudeau was one of our nation’s longest serving PMs. He was a charismatic and often controversial character, who is perhaps best remembered for his response when challenged about his use of the military to combat domestic terrorism during Quebec’s October Crisis: “Just watch me.”
Now in his own time, Justin Trudeau seems to be coming up with his own iconic statements. The Prime Minister made a point of selecting his Cabinet Ministers so that as a group they would “look like Canada.” When asked last fall by a reporter why it was important to do this, and on particular why he’d insisted on creating Canada’s first gender-balanced Cabinet, Trudeau responded very simply: “Because it’s 2015.”
Seeking Feedback: What Democracy Should Be
Someone in one of my local groups shared a link about Prime Minister Trudeau seeking input from the public on how to combat climate change. His comment was that it was all “smoke and mirrors.” This guy is very unhappy that the Conservatives lost last fall’s election, and he is constantly grumbling that Justin Trudeau is not competent to govern the country (a commonly held opinion, especially in Western Canada.) So this request for feedback from ordinary citizens on such a complex topic was a great opportunity for him to say, yet again, that our new government isn’t doing its job. He revelled in the thought that Trudeau had signed the Paris Agreement, but had no real idea about how to lower our greenhouse gas emissions.
My first reaction is that Trudeau may surprise a few people! A lot of naysayers wanted to believe his lesson on quantum computing was just a stunt, but it turns out our Prime Minister actually knows a thing or two about the subject!
Upon reflection, though, I had a deeper reaction to the news that Justin Trudeau wants the citizens of Canada to weigh in on climate change: this is what democracy ought to look like. For a decade we were fed a whole lot of garbage by Harper and his Conservatives. The expression “Harper government” replaced “Government of Canada,” and real Canadian values were suppressed in favour of whatever pet project Harper’s right-wing cronies and corporate puppeteers had adopted that month. It was rather like living behind an ideological Iron Curtain.
So now the Trudeau government is seeking our opinions, and it’s such a novel concept that people are suspicious that it means the Powers That Be have no idea what they’re doing. But really, what it means is that they recognize the value of input from people whose entire careers have not been spent trying to get elected (and stay in office!)
Rather than take this as a sign of weakness, perhaps we ought to see it as a sign of strength. When a leader asks for input sincerely and offers a mechanism for collecting it, that leader is confident in his position. It’s the tin pot dictators who micromanage every detail, and try to rule everything with an iron fist.
The government of Canada is not hiding behind a curtain, throwing levers and using special effects to throw the public off balance. That was the guy we just got rid of. Now we have a real government again, and it may take us all a little while to adjust to that. But in the meantime, please click on the link in the Tweet above and take a moment to tell Prime Minister Trudeau what you want to see Canada do about climate change. You have the opportunity. Now go have your say!