Justin Trudeau has emerged as Canada’s golden boy. After a composed childhood, Trudeau re-emerged in the public spotlight after delivering a eulogy at his father’s funeral – one that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was asked to re-broadcast by numerous phone calls. This was the first hint of a dynasty emerging in Canadian politics, as his father was the 15th prime minister of Canada.
Trudeau studied engineering before pursuing his master’s in environmental geography. Then, he paused his studies in order to pursue public office. He used his influence and public recognition in his advocacy or winter sports safety after his brother’s death during a ski trip. In 2002, he criticized the British Columbia government’s ceasing of funds for a public avalanche warning system. In 2005, Trudeau went against a $100-million zinc mine that had the potential of poisoning the Nahanni River.
He’s on the record criticizing Quebec nationalism, calling for Canada’s involvement in resolving the Darfur crisis and increasing Canada’s relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. His story reads as a coming-of-age novel, where the protagonist is growing and finding his morals and ideals in the world as the antagonist is currently holding power promoting nationalism and censorship throughout the country. The beginning of November proved to be the turning point for both as Trudeau received the majority to end Stephen Harper’s 10-year rule.
Trudeau, Canada’s 23rd prime minister has proven his commitment to a platform of change in the weeks following his election. He announced a gender-equal cabinet, with 15 male and 15 female members. When questioned about his decision, he simply shrugged it off saying it’s 2015, almost as if to say that gender equality should not be news in this day and age.
Not only does he vie for gender-equality, but also for a cabinet composed of those who can bring a wide array of intelligence and perspectives on a range of current affairs. His cabinet is revealed to have members of the First Nations, also known as the aboriginal people in Canada, but also a former refugee, a U.N. peacekeeper, a paralympian, a geoscientist, a lieutenant-colonel, a physician and a former astronaut, according to the BBC. The diversity of the group is sure to bring Trudeau more acceptance and approval from the public.
Shortly after being named cabinet members, they made themselves available to the press at the National Press Gallery Theatre in a move to set the precedent for the rest of his term. Harper had held the position for 10 years and only utilized the space seven times, and none of them after the year 2009. The minister’s meeting with the media after being sworn in juxtaposed sharply with Harper’s banning of reporters from waiting outside the hall in previous years.
This was a clear nod to the openness and transparency Trudeau is offering on behalf of his government to the media. Harper previously had strict censorship during his regime, one that extended to scientists and researchers as well. Trudeau is attempting to “un-muzzle” the scientists who had been previously heavily edited, according to the BBC.
Trudeau used the example of a reporter’s question about algae, which caused “110 pages of email between 16 different federal government communication operatives” before an approved answer was released.
On Nov. 6, a few short days after Trudeau’s victory, Alain Vezina of Bedford Institute of Oceanography lifted the censorship of his employees. He said that if the media contacted anyone, they were allowed to speak freely and openly without needing permission.
This falls in line with Trudeau’s openness to insight from officials and specialists, including diplomats in terms of foreign policy. His campaign platform included his promise of re-settling the Syrian refugees, which he took a step toward by renaming the Citizenship and Immigration Department to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada. He is still attempting his previous promise of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015.
With other policies including a resolute pro-choice stance, the need to legalize but not decriminalize marijuana and his self-identification as a feminist, he has consistently maintained a position which pushes for policies that benefit the people of Canada. Historically, his political life has been filled with advocacy and his choices of cabinet members, as well as his most recent actions as the new prime minister have captivated the international media.
After a decade-long rule from Harper, Trudeau is the breath of fresh air Canadians have been waiting for. He shows the most potential for tackling the controversial topics that have pervaded their country and the world during the last decade.
Jesseba Fernando is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus opinion section. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.