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The Trudeau Era: Modernizing Canada

B.A. Political Science, Member of®

The history of Canada has always been inspired by great visionaries. Some of these Canadian visionaries were prime ministers of different political convictions. Each of these leaders promoted their ideals and visions of Canada. Justin Trudeau`s leadership has been inspired by his father`s premiership who defended rights and freedoms, multiculturalism, and who made some significant legal reforms. In the same way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vigorously defends liberal values in terms of individual rights, equality of opportunities, and the right for Canadians to live as they choose. Under Justin Trudeau`s leadership, Canada is the second country to legalize cannabis. Moreover, Justin Trudeau is in favour of immigration because he thinks that people from different cultures and backgrounds are assets for the Canadian nation. Prime Minister Trudeau defends Canada`s economic interests by investing in the economy and by protecting the North American free trade Area. Also, He made a revolution by decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis.

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                To begin with, Justin Trudeau is the son of former Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau who is the father of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His father was a strong advocate for bilingualism whose government enacted Canada`s Official Languages Act. Justin Trudeau was born on Christmas Day in 1971 in Ottawa. Justin Trudeau is from Scottish and French Canadian descent and he is fluent in English and French. Justin Trudeau graduated in the B.A. program of English literature from McGill University. He has an undergraduate degree in Education from the University of British Columbia. He also studied engineering at the EcolePolytechnique (Université de Montréal) in Montreal. He worked as a camp counsellor at Camp Ahmek which job helped him to get some leadership skills. He worked a Math and French teacher at the West Point Grey Academy. Trudeau was a chairman on the board of directors of the Katimavik program which is a popular youth program. Therefore, Trudeau believes in the importance for Canadians to travel across the nation to better understand the Canadian reality and diversity. He has been a Member of Parliament for the Papineau riding since 2008. He was elected as prime minister in 2015 with a majority government.

                Furthermore, Justin Trudeau used the words ¨sunny ways¨ in his 2015 victory speech. These words refer to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier`s ¨sunny ways¨ which means the way of negotiating, using diplomacy, and make compromises. Wilfrid Laurier believed in the sunny ways rather than forced legislation. As well, Justin Trudeau believes in finding a common ground when trying to settle difference and solve problems. He believes in diplomacy rather than fights. Justin Trudeau applied this vision to his government. For instance, Trudeau government negotiated with the Doug Ford government to build a French language university in the province of Ontario. Trudeau used some diplomacy and he made some compromises to find ways to convince the new Ontario Government to build a postsecondary institution to serve French Ontario. Justin Trudeau wants to make a fairer and better society in the spirit of the sunny ways. He has been inspired by his father`s just society vision of Canada. He thinks that the sunny ways approach is the best way to achieve his father`s dream of a just society. He believes in the positive and powerful force for change.

                In addition, the Trudeau government implemented the carbon tax to decrease carbon emission. The main purpose of this tax is to put a price on pollution and it is to encourage people to find ways to reduce their carbon print. Louis Delvoie, a Kingston Whig Standard columnist, describes Trudeau`s environmental record as ¨balanced set of policies. By imposing a carbon tax, it took a step in the right direction when it came to diminishing greenhouse gas emissions. With its promise of rebates to consumers, the government ensured that its policy would not adversely affect most consumers.¨ Therefore, Trudeau`s carbon tax is a good initiative to decrease gas emissions. Even though, the carbon tax is a first step to save the planet, this tax is the first step to reduce the Canadian carbon. Trudeau is committed that Canada achieve net zero emission by 2050 and he wants to support businesses that produce zero emission. Thus, Trudeau wants to strengthen the Canadian economy while encouraging business to become environmentally friendly.

                As well, Trudeau strongly believes in the future generations of Canadians. He carries on the legacy of his father to support youth programs. For that reason, the Trudeau government invested in youth programs such as: Katimavik. The Liberal government has invested $105 million over three years in the new program in 2018. Katimavik was abolished by the Harper government and Justin Trudeau brought back the program during his first term. The program allows young Canadians to discover different regions of the nation. This is one of the many programs that the Government of Canada offers to young adults. The purpose of Katimavik is to instil a culture of service among young people. Justin Trudeau`s father launched the original Katimavik program during his years as Prime Minister. The Liberal involvement in youth service dates back to the Pearson government in the 1960s with the creation of the Company for Young Canadians. Liberal Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson wrote in his biography: "The idea was to see what could be done to give the younger people of the country, who were restless and exasperated and unsettled, an opportunity to get rid of their frustrations by service." Therefore, Justin Trudeau`s youth policies is in line with the liberal tradition of investing in young people. 

                Furthermore, Justin Trudeau advocates for a welcoming Canada in terms of immigration. The Liberal government has been promoting the benefits of having an open immigration system. For instance, the Trudeau government welcomed 25,000 refugees in 2015 soon after its election. Trudeau strongly believes in the benefits of immigration for Canada. Justin Trudeau thinks that the World is ¨hardening its hearts to immigration, and not seeing the economic benefits of welcoming in people who are looking for nothing more than the opportunity to work hard and to build a better future for themselves and their kids.¨ In contrast, Trudeau thinks that newcomers are assets for Canada. New Canadians bring their skills, education, values, and love for Canada. Consequently, Justin Trudeau thinks that immigration is an asset for the nation and that Canada has to be an open society which promotes multiculturalism and diversity. The Liberal policy is to welcome around 300,000 newcomers every year; nevertheless, a 2019 Leger poll reveals that 63% of Canadians want that the government to decreasing immigration rate because they are concerned that newcomers cannot integrate well into Canadian society. However, the Liberal government is convinced that the newcomers are able to integrate well in the Canadian way of life. Besides, Trudeau wants that Canada becomes a model for the World; he wants the nation be seen as an open society by the rest of the World. Besides, Trudeau`s vision of Canada is a compassionate nation for refugees coming from the poorest parts of the World.

                In addition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is committed to strengthen Canada`s economy. He is convinced that Canada needs to increase its economic efficiency and the nation`s overall wealth. Accordingly, the Liberal government purchased for $4.5 billion the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry oil from the province of Alberta to the British Columbia coast. According to a 2018 Global News poll, 84% of Albertans supported the project while 55% of British Columbians were in favour of it. As well, 58% of Canadians think that the pipeline expansion will be good for the national economy. The Pipeline expansion will supply global market`s growing needs for oil and gas. The new pipeline project is essential for Canada`s economy because this will create thousands of good jobs. However, the purchase of Trans Mountain is very controversial, but this shows that the Liberal Prime Minister can make tough decisions regardless of the polls; Trudeau knows that he does not have much chance to get several MPs elected in the province of Alberta, but he still wants to make sure Alberta remains a strong economy for the nation.

                Besides, the Prime Minister wants to do for Western Canada what his father failed to do which is to better respond to the needs and aspirations of Western Canadians. Western Canadians strongly criticized Pierre Elliot Trudeau`s National Energy Program. This national program was extremely unpopular in Western Canada and this created a sense of western alienations in the western parts of the country. Several people thought that Pierre Elliot Trudeau did not understand the needs and demands of Western Canada; they felt the Pierre E. Trudeau government was not working in Western Canada`s best interests. Pierre Trudeau felt this sense of alienation while he was prime minister. Pierre E. Trudeau told Joe Clark: ¨I have done what I can for Quebec, someone else will have to deal with the West.¨ On the one hand, Pierre E. Trudeau failed to respond to the aspirations and demands on the Western provinces. On the other hand, Justin Trudeau wants to do what his father failed to do which is to get more support in the West. He knows that his pipeline gets a high approval rate and this is good for the Western Canadian economy; besides, this project is in the national interest because oil profit can be re-invested into the national equalization payments or any other national program. Trudeau`s home province, Quebec, has received more than 50% of all equalization payments since 1957 for a total of $221 billion according to the Regina Leader Post. Even though, the Trans Mountain pipeline project is not popular in the province of Quebec, Trudeau expects that the pipeline gets some support in Quebec because oil tax revenues could be re-invested in the Canadian social safety net or in environment. Besides, the province could get more equalization payments from these tax revenues.

                Moreover, Justin Trudeau believes in freedom of religion. He defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms adopted by his father`s government. He believes in individual liberty and rights. As a result, he is strongly against Bill 21 which the provincial legislative act on secularism adopted by the Quebec legislature. This act legislates against the wearing of religious symbols by provincial civil servants. Nevertheless, several people think that this law brings some employment discrimination by preventing religious minorities from getting managerial jobs. Prime Minister Trudeau told some reporters in Washington, D.C.: ¨We do not feel that it is a government’s responsibility, or in a government’s interest, to legislate on what people should be wearing.¨ Thus, Trudeau says that a government should not tell people what to wear. The Prime Minister said during his 2019 election campaign that he is ¨not closing the door to a possible intervention because it would be irresponsible for a federal government to choose to shut the door on a matter of fundamental rights.¨ Trudeau could intervene to abolish Bill 21. Trudeau fears that tyranny of the majority prevails over individual rights of religious minorities. As a result, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to protect religious minorities and he wants find ways to challenge Bill 21, most likely in courts. Justin Trudeau walks in the same pathway of his father which is defending fundamental rights and freedoms in Canada.

                As well, The Trudeau government triggered a small revolution by legalizing cannabis. Canada is the second nation to legalize cannabis after Uruguay. Liberals want that Canadians buy cannabis from legal cannabis stores instead of buying cannabis from the black market. Private and public cannabis stores across Canada can provide information about Cannabis health and safety. Cannabis decriminalization seems to have been a great achievement in Canada despite of some supply problems. For instance, Reuters reveals in 2019 that cannabis generated $186 million in tax revenue in the first 5 months and half of cannabis legalization. Therefore, the national and provincial governments have greatly benefited in terms of tax revenues from cannabis legalization. As a well, Trudeau made a small legal and business revolution with this great reform. The cannabis legalization is considered to have beena great success for his government and Canada is now a leader in this new industry. In short, cannabis legalization revolutionizes Canada and brings the nation into uncharted territories.

                Likewise, Trudeau protected Canada`s interests with the new modernized NAFTA agreement. President Donald Trump is not a strongly supporter of multilateral agreements and international trade. He often says foreign nations take advantage of the United States in these treaties; the president supports bilateral treaties in which the U.S. benefits more from. Nevertheless, the Trudeau government succeeded to convince the president to sign a modernized version of NAFTA which protects free trade between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.  Yet, Canada needed to find a compromise to keep free trade with the U.S. and Mexico; as a result, Canada gives up some market shares in the dairy industry. Therefore, the U.S. farmers have access to 3.59% of the Canadian market which is a compromise between Canada and the U.S. The U.S. has been complaining for several years about the trade deficit between both nations. U.S. farmers wanted to sell to Canada some of their dairy products. Thus, Trudeau did not have any choice to find a common ground between the U.S. and Canada because Canada highly depends on the U.S. exports. For instance, Canada and U.S. Trade accounts for more than $900 billion; thus, Canada needed a comprehensive free trade agreement with the U.S.  $414 billion worth of Canadian merchandise were exported to the U.S. in 2017. Consequently, the Canada United States Mexico Agreement is a success for the Trudeau government.

                Finally, Trudeau`s cannabis legalization has been a revolution for Canada. In sum, this reform helps Canada to fight organized crime by preventing these organizations from making profit out of the cannabis industry. Nowadays, cannabis is sold by legal public and private stores. Besides, this reform makes sure to protect the health of people by providing information to cannabis users about the dangers of the drug. Furthermore, the Trudeau revolution is possible because the new government uses the ¨Sunny Ways¨ approach previously advocated by former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Moreover, Trudeau has been working very hard to develop a more sustainable oil industry in Western Canada. For instance, Trudeau builds a pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia to support Alberta`s oil industry. The new project gets high approval in the Western provinces. In contrast, Trudeau thinks that the oil industry can be sustained, but there must be a price put on pollution; thus, the liberal carbon tax will help to reduce Canada`s carbon emissions. In sum, the carbon tax is an incentive for businesses to develop ways to decrease their carbon print on the planet. Like his father, Trudeau defends rights and freedoms of Canadians by not supporting the provincial act of secularism in Quebec. In sum, Justin Trudeau shows leadership in standing up for the rights and freedoms of every Canadian. In addition, Trudeau secures the U.S., Canada, and Mexico free trade agreement that is essential for the nation. Additionally, Trudeau`s Canada is based on multiculturalism in which everyone, regardless of their nationality, can contribute to the Canadian culture.


October 11, 2019

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Yannick B. Vallée
By Yannick B. Vallee

Yannick B. Vallee is a political scientist who recently graduated from Bishop’s University (Quebec, Canada) in the BA program of political science. He also has a college degree of Business Administration with a specialization in marketing. Nowadays,  he specializes in American, Canadian... (Read next)

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