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Justin Trudeau

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Justin Trudeau

Portrait photograph of Trudeau smiling in front of Rideau Cottage.
Trudeau in 2020
23rd Prime Minister of Canada
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor General
DeputyChrystia Freeland[a]
Preceded byStephen Harper
Leader of the Liberal Party
Assumed office
April 14, 2013
President
DeputyRalph Goodale[b]
Preceded byBob Rae
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Papineau
Assumed office
October 14, 2008
Preceded byVivian Barbot
Personal details
Born
Justin Pierre James Trudeau

(1971-12-25) December 25, 1971 (age 48)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)
(m. 2005)
Children3
Parents
RelativesTrudeau family
Residence
Alma mater
OccupationTeacher, politician
SalaryCA$351,200[1]
Signature
Website

Justin Pierre James Trudeau PC MP (/ˈtrd, trˈd/, About this soundlisten; French: [ʒystɛ̃ tʁydo]; born December 25, 1971) is a Canadian politician who has served as the 23rd prime minister of Canada since 2015 and has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 2013.[2][3] Trudeau is the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history; he is also the first to be related to a previous holder of the post, as the eldest son of Pierre Trudeau.[4][5]

Born in Ottawa, Trudeau attended Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, graduated from McGill University in 1994, and then the University of British Columbia in 1998. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and a Bachelor of Education degree. After graduating, he worked as a teacher in Vancouver, British Columbia.[6] He started studying engineering at Montreal's École Polytechnique in 2002 but withdrew in 2003.[7][8] Beginning in 2004, he took one year of a master's program in environmental geography at McGill University, but withdrew in 2005 to focus on his advocacy work.[9][8][7]

In the 2008 federal election, he was elected to represent the riding of Papineau in the House of Commons. In 2009, he was appointed the Liberal Party's critic for youth and multiculturalism, and the following year, became critic for citizenship and immigration. In 2011, he was appointed as a critic for secondary education and sport. Trudeau won the leadership of the Liberal Party in April 2013 and led his party to victory in the 2015 federal election, moving the third-placed Liberals from 36 seats to 184 seats, the largest-ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian federal election.[10][11] As Prime Minister, major government initiatives he undertook during his first term include legalizing recreational marijuana through the Cannabis Act; attempting Senate appointment reform by establishing the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments and establishing the federal carbon tax; while grappling with ethics investigations concerning the Aga Khan scandal and later, the SNC-Lavalin affair. In foreign policy, Trudeau's government negotiated trade deals such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and signed the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Winning the most seats (157) in the 2019 federal election, Trudeau secured a second term by forming a minority government, despite the Liberal Party losing the popular vote and receiving the lowest percentage of the national popular vote of any governing party in Canadian history.[12] During his second term, he has confronted the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, announced an assault weapons ban in response to the 2020 Nova Scotia attacks and is facing a third ethics investigation surrounding the WE Charity scandal. In foreign policy, he led Canada's failed 2020 bid on temporary membership of the United Nations Security Council.

Early life

Ancestry and birth

On June 23, 1971, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) announced that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's wife of four months, the former Margaret Sinclair,[13] was pregnant and due in December.[14][15] Justin Trudeau was born on Christmas Day 1971 at 9:27 pm EST at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.[16] He is the second child in Canadian history to be born to a prime minister in office; the first was John A. Macdonald's daughter Margaret Mary Theodora Macdonald (February 8, 1869 – January 28, 1933). Trudeau's younger brothers Alexandre (Sacha) (born December 25, 1973) and Michel (October 2, 1975 – November 13, 1998) were the third and fourth.[17][18]

Trudeau is predominantly of Scottish and French Canadian descent. His grandfathers were businessman Charles-Émile Trudeau[19] and Scottish-born James Sinclair,[20] who served as Minister of Fisheries in the cabinet of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent.[21] Trudeau's maternal great-grandfather Thomas Bernard was born in Makassar[22] and immigrated to Penticton, British Columbia, in 1906 at age 15 with his family.[23] Through the Bernard family, kinsmen of the Earls of Bandon,[24][25][26] Trudeau is the 5th-great-grandson of Major-General William Farquhar,[27] a leader in the founding of modern Singapore; Trudeau also has remote ethnic Malaccan[28][29] and Ono Niha[30][31][32] ancestry.

Trudeau was baptized with his father's niece Anne Rouleau-Danis as godmother and his mother's brother-in-law Thomas Walker as godfather[33][34] at Ottawa's Notre Dame Basilica on the afternoon of January 16, 1972, which marked his first public appearance.[35]

On April 14, 1972, Trudeau's father and mother hosted a gala at the National Arts Centre, at which visiting U.S. president Richard M. Nixon said, "I'd like to toast the future prime minister of Canada, to Justin Pierre Trudeau" to which Pierre Elliott Trudeau responded that should his son ever assume the role, he hoped he would have "the grace and skill of the president".[36] Earlier that same day U.S. first lady Pat Nixon had come to see him in his nursery to deliver a gift, a stuffed toy Snoopy.[37][38] Nixon's White House audio tapes later revealed Nixon referred to that visit as "wasting three days up there. That trip we needed like a hole in the head."[39][40]

Childhood

His parents announced their separation on May 27, 1977,[41][42] when Trudeau was five years old and his father having custody. There had been repeated rumours of a reconciliation for many years afterwards.[43] However, his mother's attorney Michael Levine[44] filed in Toronto to the Supreme Court of Ontario for a no-fault divorce on November 16, 1983,[45] and finalized on April 2, 1984,[46] with his father announcing his intention to retire as prime minister on February 29 of that year.[47] Eventually his parents came to an amicable joint-custody arrangement and learned to get along quite well. Interviewed in October 1979, his nanny Dianne Lavergne was quoted, "Justin is a mommy's boy, so it's not easy, but children's hurts mend very quickly. And they're lucky kids, anyway."[48] Of his mother and father's marriage, Trudeau said in 2009, "They loved each other incredibly, passionately, completely. But there was 30 years between them and my mom never was an equal partner in what encompassed my father's life, his duty, his country."[49] Trudeau has three half-siblings, Kyle and Alicia, from his mother's remarriage to Fried Kemper,[50] and Sarah, from his father's relationship with Deborah Coyne.[51]

Trudeau lived at 24 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, the official residence of Canada's prime minister, from his birth until his father's government was defeated in the federal election on May 22, 1979. The Trudeaus were expected to move into the residence of the Leader of the Official Opposition, Stornoway, at 541 Acacia Avenue in Rockcliffe Park, but because of flooding in the basement, prime minister Joe Clark offered them Harrington Lake, the prime minister's official country retreat in Gatineau Park, with the expectation they would move into Stornoway at the start of July.[52] However, the repairs were not complete so Pierre Trudeau took a prolonged vacation with his sons to the Nova Scotia summer home of his friend, MP Don Johnston, and later sent his sons to stay with their maternal grandparents in North Vancouver for the rest of the summer while he slept at his friend's Ottawa apartment. Justin and his brothers returned to Ottawa for the start of the school year, but lived only on the top floor of Stornoway while repairs continued on the bottom floor.[53] His mother purchased and moved into a new home nearby at 95 Queen Victoria Street in Ottawa's New Edinburgh in September 1979.[54][55] The Trudeaus returned to the prime minister's official residence in February 1980 after the election that returned his father to the Prime Minister's Office.[56]

His father had intended Trudeau to begin his formal education at a French Lycée, but Trudeau's mother convinced his father of the importance of sending their sons to a public school.[57] In the end, Trudeau was enrolled in 1976 in the French immersion program at Rockcliffe Park Public School, the same school his mother had attended for two years when her family relocated to Rockcliffe Park while her father served as a federal Cabinet minister.[58] He could have been dropped off by limousine, but his parents elected he take the school bus albeit with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police car following.[59][60][61][62] This was followed by one year at the private Lycée Claudel d'Ottawa.[63][64]

10-year-old Justin Trudeau touring the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille with his father and French Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, November 8, 1982

After his father's retirement in June 1984, his mother remained at her New Edinburgh home while the rest of the family moved into his father's home at 1418 Pine Avenue, Montreal known as Cormier House[65] where the following autumn he began attending the private Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, his father's alma mater. The school had begun as a Jesuit school but was non-denominational by the time Justin matriculated.[66][67] In 2008, Trudeau said that of all his early family outings he enjoyed camping with his father the most, because "that was where our father got to be just our father – a dad in the woods".[68] During the summers his father would send him and his brothers to Camp Ahmek, on Canoe Lake, in Algonquin Provincial Park, where he would later work in his first paid employment as a camp counselor.[64][69][70][71][72]

Trudeau and his brothers were given shares in a numbered trust fund by their father, from which they receive regular dividends. As of August 2011, Trudeau's company had assets of $1.2 million.[73]

University and early career

Trudeau has a bachelor of arts degree in literature from McGill University and a bachelor of education degree from the University of British Columbia. In his first year at McGill, Trudeau became acquainted with his future Principal Secretary Gerald Butts, through their mutual friend, Jonathan Ablett.[74] Butts invited Trudeau to join the McGill Debating Union.[75] They bonded while driving back to Montreal after a debate tournament at Princeton University[74] in which the Princeton team included Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator, who was a candidate for the U.S. Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016.[76] After graduation, Trudeau stayed in Vancouver where he became a substitute teacher at local schools and worked permanently as a French and math teacher at the private West Point Grey Academy. He became a roommate at the Douglas Lodge[77] with fellow West Point Grey Academy faculty member and friend Christopher Ingvaldson.[74][78] From 2002 to 2004, he studied engineering at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, a part of the Université de Montréal.[79] He started a master's degree in environmental geography at McGill, but withdrew from the program to seek public office among other reasons.[80]

In August 2000, Justin Trudeau attended the Kokanee Summit in Creston, British Columbia, to raise funds in honour of his brother Michel Trudeau and other avalanche victims. After the event, an unsigned editorial in the Creston Valley Advance (a local newspaper) accused Trudeau of having groped an unnamed female reporter while at the music festival. The editorial stated Trudeau provided a "day-late" apology to the reporter, saying, "If I had known you were reporting for a national paper, I never would have been so forward".[81][82] In 2018, Trudeau was questioned about the groping incident but said he did not remember any negative incidents from that time. His apology and later statement about the event have been described as hypocritical, while responses to the story have been described as a witch hunt or non-story.[83]

Trudeau, then 28, emerged as a prominent figure in October 2000, after delivering a eulogy at his father's state funeral.[84][85][86] The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) received numerous calls to rebroadcast the speech after its initial transmission, and leading Quebec politician Claude Ryan described it as "perhaps ... the first manifestation of a dynasty".[87] A book issued by the CBC in 2003 included the speech in its list of significant Canadian events from the past fifty years.[88]

In 2007, Trudeau starred in the two-part CBC Television miniseries The Great War, which gave an account of Canada's participation in the First World War. He portrayed his fifth cousin, twice removed,[89] Major Talbot Mercer Papineau, who was killed on October 30, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele.[90] Trudeau is one of several children of former prime ministers who have become Canadian media personalities. The others are Ben Mulroney (son of Brian Mulroney), Catherine Clark (daughter of Joe Clark), and Trudeau's younger brother, Alexandre.[91] Ben Mulroney was a guest at Trudeau's wedding.[92]

Advocacy

Trudeau and his family started the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign for winter sports safety in 2000, two years after his brother Michel died in an avalanche during a ski trip.[93] In 2002, Trudeau criticized the Government of British Columbia's decision to stop its funding for a public avalanche warning system.[94][95]

Left to right at a Darfur rally, 2006: Trudeau, Darfurian refugee Tragi Mustafa, one of the event organisers, and Senator Roméo Dallaire

Trudeau chaired the Katimavik youth program, a project started by longtime family friend Jacques Hébert, from 2002 to 2006.[96][97]

In 2002–03, Trudeau was a panelist on CBC Radio's Canada Reads series, where he championed The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston.[98][99] Trudeau and his brother Alexandre inaugurated the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto in April 2004; the centre later became a part of the Munk School of Global Affairs.[100] In 2006, he hosted the Giller Prize for literature.[101][102]

In 2005, Trudeau fought against a proposed $100-million zinc mine that he argued would poison the Nahanni River, a United Nations World Heritage Site located in the Northwest Territories. He was quoted as saying, "The river is an absolutely magnificent, magical place. I'm not saying mining is wrong ... but that is not the place for it. It's just the wrong thing to be doing."[103][104]

On September 17, 2006, Trudeau was the master of ceremonies at a Toronto rally organized by Roméo Dallaire that called for Canadian participation in resolving the Darfur crisis.[105][106][107]

Political beginnings

Trudeau supported the Liberal Party from a young age, offering his support to party leader John Turner in the 1988 federal election.[108] Two years later, he defended Canadian federalism at a student event at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, which he attended.[109]

Trudeau at the 2006 leadership convention

Following his father's death, Trudeau became more involved with the Liberal Party throughout the 2000s. Along with Olympian Charmaine Crooks, he co-hosted a tribute to outgoing prime minister Jean Chrétien at the party's 2003 leadership convention, and was appointed to chair a task force on youth renewal after the party's defeat in the 2006 federal election.[110][111]

In October 2006, Trudeau criticized Quebec nationalism by describing political nationalism generally as an "old idea from the 19th century", "based on a smallness of thought" and not relevant to modern Quebec. This comment was seen as a criticism of Michael Ignatieff, then a candidate in the 2006 Liberal Party leadership election, who was promoting recognition of Quebec as a nation.[112][113] Trudeau later wrote a public letter on the subject, describing the idea of Quebec nationhood as "against everything my father ever believed".[114][115]

Trudeau announced his support for leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy shortly before the 2006 convention and introduced Kennedy during the candidates' final speeches.[116] When Kennedy dropped off after the second ballot, Trudeau joined him in supporting the ultimate winner, Stéphane Dion.[117][118]

Rumours circulated in early 2007 that Trudeau would run in an upcoming by-election in the Montreal riding of Outremont. The Montreal newspaper La Presse reported despite Trudeau's keenness, Liberal leader Stéphane Dion wanted Outremont for a star candidate who could help rebuild the Liberal Party. Instead, Trudeau announced that he would seek the Liberal nomination in the nearby riding of Papineau for the next general election.[119][120][121] The riding, which had once been held for 26 years by André Ouellet, a senior minister under his father, had been in Liberal hands for 53 years before falling to the Bloc Québécois in 2006.[122]

On April 29, 2007, Trudeau won the Liberal party's nomination, picking up 690 votes to 350 for Deros and 220 for Giordano against Mary Deros, a Montreal city councillor and Basilio Giordano, the publisher of a local Italian-language newspaper.[123]

Opposition, 2008–2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election for October 14, 2008, by which time Trudeau had been campaigning for a year in Papineau. On election day, Trudeau narrowly defeated Bloc Québécois incumbent Vivian Barbot.[124] Following his election win, Edward Greenspon, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, noted that Trudeau would "be viewed as few other rookie MPs are—as a potential future Prime Minister—and scrutinized through that lens".[68]

2008 Trudeau promotional portrait by Jean-Marc Carisse

The Conservative Party won a minority government in the 2008 election, and Trudeau entered parliament as a member of the Official Opposition. Trudeau was the first member of the 40th Parliament of Canada to introduce a private member's motion, in which he called for a "national voluntary service policy for young people". The proposal won support from parliamentarians across party lines.[125] He later co-chaired the Liberal Party's April 2009 national convention in Vancouver, and in October of the same year he was appointed as the party's critic for multiculturalism and youth.[126]

In September 2010, he was reassigned as critic for youth, citizenship, and immigration.[127] During that time, he criticized the government's legislation targeting human smuggling, which he argued would penalize the victims of smuggling.[128]

Trudeau sparked controversy when it was revealed that he earned $1.3 million in public speaking fees from charities and school boards across Canada, $277,000 of which Trudeau received after becoming an MP.[129][130]

He encouraged an increase of Canada's relief efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and sought more accessible immigration procedures for Haitians moving to Canada in the time of crisis. His own riding includes a significant Haitian community.[131]

Trudeau was re-elected in Papineau in the 2011 federal election, as the Liberal Party fell to third-party standing in the House of Commons with only thirty-four seats. Ignatieff resigned as party leader immediately after the election, and rumours again circulated that Trudeau could run to become his successor. On this occasion, Trudeau said, "I don't feel I should be closing off any options ... because of the history packaged into my name, a lot of people are turning to me in a way that ... to be blunt, concerns me."[132][133] Weeks after the election, Toronto MP Bob Rae was selected to serve as the interim leader until the party's leadership convention, which was later decided to be held in April 2013. Rae appointed Trudeau as the party's critic for Post Secondary Education, Youth and Amateur Sport.[134] After his re-election, he travelled the country hosting fundraisers for charities and the Liberal Party.[135][136][137][138]

Trudeau wanted to take part in a charity boxing match on behalf of the cancer research fundraising event Fight for the Cure, but was having difficulty finding a Conservative opponent until Conservative senator Patrick Brazeau agreed when asked on Trudeau's behalf by their mutual hairdresser Stefania Capovilla.[139][140] The fight on March 31, 2012, in Ottawa at the Hampton Inn was broadcast live on Sun News with commentary by Ezra Levant and Brian Lilley and Trudeau won in the third round, the result considered an upset.[139][141]

Leader of the Liberal Party

Earlier speculation

After Dion's resignation as Liberal leader in 2008, Trudeau's name was mentioned as a potential candidate with polls showing him as a favourite among Canadians for the position.[142][143]

However, Trudeau did not enter the race and Ignatieff was named leader in December 2008.[144] After the party's poor showing in the 2011 election, Ignatieff resigned from the leadership and Trudeau was again seen as a potential candidate to lead the party.[145]

Following the election, Trudeau said he was undecided about seeking the leadership;[146] months later on October 12 at Wilfrid Laurier University, he announced he would not seek the post because he had a young family.[147] When interim leader Rae, who was also seen as a frontrunner, announced he would not be entering the race in June 2012, Trudeau was hit with a "tsunami" of calls from supporters to reconsider his earlier decision to not seek the leadership.[148]

Opinion polling conducted by several pollsters showed that if Trudeau were to become leader the Liberal Party would surge in support, from a distant third place to either being competitive with the Conservative Party or leading them.[149] In July 2012, Trudeau stated that he would reconsider his earlier decision to not seek the leadership and would announce his final decision at the end of the summer.[150][151]

2013 leadership election

On September 26, 2012, multiple media outlets started reporting that Trudeau would launch his leadership bid the following week.[152][153] While Trudeau was seen as a frontrunner for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he was criticized for his perceived lack of substance.[154][155] During his time as a Member of Parliament, he spoke little on policy matters and it was not known where he stood on many issues such as the economy and foreign affairs.[156][157] Some strategists and pundits believed the leadership would be the time for Trudeau to be tested on these issues; however, there was also fear within the party that his celebrity status and large lead might deter other strong candidates from entering the leadership race.[158][159][160]

On October 2, 2012, Trudeau held a rally in Montreal to launch his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party.[161] The core people on his campaign team were considered longtime friends, and all in their 30s and 40s. His senior advisor was Gerald Butts, the former President of WWF-Canada who had previously served as principal secretary to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. Other senior aides included campaign manager Katie Telford, and policy advisors Mike McNeir and Robert Asselin, who had all worked for recent Liberal Party leaders.[162] His brother Alexandre also took a break from his documentary work to be a senior advisor on Trudeau's campaign.[163]

During the leadership campaign three by-elections were held on November 26, 2012. The riding Calgary Centre was expected to be a three-way race between the Conservatives, Liberals and Green Party. A week before by-election day Sun Media reported on comments Trudeau had made in a 2010 interview with Télé-Québec, in which he said, "Canada isn't doing well right now because it's Albertans who control our community and socio-democratic agenda." Trudeau's campaign advisor said that the comments were being brought up now because of the close race in Calgary Centre.[164] The following day, Trudeau apologized, saying he was wrong to use "Alberta" as "shorthand" in referring to Stephen Harper's government.[165] The Conservatives held onto Calgary Centre in the by-election by less than 1,200 votes. Liberal candidate Harvey Locke said he lost the by-election on his own and that comments made by Trudeau did not influence the outcome.[166]

Fellow leadership candidate Marc Garneau, seen as Trudeau's main challenger in the race, criticized Trudeau for not releasing enough substantial policy positions. Garneau called on him to release more detailed policies before members and supporters begin to vote.[167] Garneau later challenged Trudeau to a one-on-one debate, and said that if Trudeau could not defend his ideas in a debate against him, he wouldn't be able to do so against Prime Minister Harper.[168] Trudeau clashed in debates with challenger Joyce Murray, who was the only Liberal leadership candidate to speak out strongly in favour of electing the House of Commons with a system of proportional representation. She challenged Trudeau over his support for a preferential ballot voting system.[169]

On March 13, 2013, Garneau dropped out of the leadership race, saying that polling conducted by his campaign showed he would be unable to defeat Trudeau.[170][171]

With Joyce Murray, the last challenger, receiving significant press time, more Liberal politicians and public figures declared themselves for Trudeau. Trudeau was declared the winner of the leadership election on April 14, 2013, garnering 80.1 per cent of 30,800 votes.[172] Joyce Murray finished in second place with 10.2 per cent points, ahead of Martha Hall Findlay's 5.7 per cent.[173] Trudeau had lost only five ridings, all to Murray and all in BC.[174]

Leadership, 2013–2015
Justin Trudeau delivering a speech on a doorstep in Toronto's Little Italy, 2014[175]

Polls conducted during the leadership race showed that support for the Liberals would surge if they were led by Trudeau. Days after winning his party's leadership a poll showed that the Liberal Party was the choice of 43 per cent of respondents. This compared to 30 per cent for the governing Conservatives and 19 per cent for the Official Opposition New Democrats.[176]

According to an October 2013 EKOS poll, Trudeau's approval numbers improved to a 48–29 approval–disapproval; Thomas Mulcair's jumped to a slight lead at 50–25, while Stephen Harper's ratings sank to 24–69.[177] A December 2013 EKOS poll showed the Liberals preferred by 32.1 per cent of voters, the Conservatives by 26.2 per cent, the NDP 22.9 per cent. Likely voters, estimated by removing those who didn't vote in 2011, moved the parties into a logjam: Liberals 29.1 per cent, Conservatives 28.5 per cent, NDP 27.2 per cent.[178]

In 2013, Justin Trudeau chose to give up his seat at the funeral of Nelson Mandela, in deference to Irwin Cotler as representative of the Liberal Party of Canada, because of Cotler's work for and with Nelson Mandela in fighting apartheid.[179]

During the leadership campaign Trudeau pledged to park all his assets, exclusive of real estate holdings, into a blind trust which is atypical for opposition MPs, including leaders. According to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, he fulfilled the pledge in July 2013 when the blind trust was set up by BMO Private Banking.[180]

On January 27, 2014, Trudeau and MP Carolyn Bennett escorted Chrystia Freeland into the House of Commons, as is traditional for by-election victors.[181] Trudeau launched an internet video the week before the 2014 Liberal party convention titled "An economy that benefits us all" in which he narrates his economic platform. He said that Canada's debt to GDP ratios have come down in recent years and now it's time for Ottawa to "step up".[182]

2015 federal election

Trudeau at the Vancouver Pride Festival, shortly after launching his election campaign

On October 19, 2015, after the longest official campaign in over a century, Trudeau led the Liberals to a decisive victory in the federal election. The Liberals won 184 of the 338 seats, with 39.5% of the popular vote, for a strong majority government;[183][184] a gain of 150 seats compared to the 2011 federal election.[183]

This was the second-best performance in the party's history. The Liberals won mostly on the strength of a solid performance in the eastern half of the country. In addition to taking all of Atlantic Canada and Toronto,[183] they won 40 seats in Quebec—the most that the Liberals had won in that province since Trudeau's father led them to a near-sweep of the province in 1980, and also the first time since then that the Liberals won a majority of Quebec's seats in an election. The 150-seat gain was the biggest numerical increase for a single party since Confederation and marked the first time that a party had rebounded from third place in the Commons to a majority government.

In addition to the appeal of his party's platform, Trudeau's success has been credited to his performance both on the campaign trail and televised leaders' debates exceeding the lowered expectations created by Conservative advertisements and conservative media outlets.[185][186][187]

The Trudeau Liberals slogan during the 2015 campaign was "Real Change"

Trudeau declared victory shortly after CBC News projected that he had won a majority government. He began his speech with a reference to Wilfrid Laurier's "sunny ways" (French: voies ensoleillées) approach to bringing Canadians together despite their differences. According to Trudeau, Laurier "knew that politics can be a positive force, and that's the message Canadians have sent today".[188] Harper announced his resignation as the head of the Conservative Party that night.[189][190]

Prime Minister of Canada

Trudeau and the rest of the Cabinet were sworn in by Governor General David Johnston on November 4, 2015. He said that his first legislative priority was to lower taxes for middle-income Canadians and raise taxes for the top one per cent of income earners after parliament was reconvened on December 3, 2015.[191] Trudeau also issued a statement promising to rebuild relations with Indigenous peoples in Canada and run an open, ethical and transparent government.[192] On November 5, 2015, during the first Liberal caucus meeting since forming a majority government, the party announced that it would reinstate the mandatory long-form census that had been scrapped in 2010, effective with the 2016 census.[193][194]

In January 2017, Canada's Ethics Commissioner, Mary Dawson, began an investigation into Trudeau for a vacation he and his family took to Aga Khan IV's private island in the Bahamas.[195][196] The Ethics Commissioner's report, released in December 2017, found that Trudeau had violated four provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act.[197] He became the first sitting prime minister to break federal conflict of interest rules.[198]

In February 2018, Trudeau was criticized when his administration invited Khalistani nationalist Jaspal Atwal to the Canadian High Commission's dinner party in Delhi. Atwal had previously been convicted for the shooting and attempted murder of Indian Cabinet Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986, as well as the assault on former B.C. Premier Ujjal Dosanjh in 1985. Following the dinner, the PMO rescinded the invitation, and apologized for the incident.[199][200][201][202]

In July 2018, Trudeau shuffled his cabinet.[203]

During his time as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau was victim of multiple death threats and assassination plots.[204]

Assessment of campaign promises

In July 2019, a group of 20 independent academics published an assessment on Trudeau's tenure as prime minister,[205] called Assessing Justin Trudeau's Liberal Government: 353 Promises and a Mandate for Change. The assessment found that Trudeau's Liberal government kept 92 per cent of pledges, a sum of complete and partial pledges. When calculating completed and realized pledges, they found Trudeau's government kept 53.5 per cent of their campaign promises. Trudeau's government, along with the "last Harper government had the highest rates of follow-through on their campaign promises of any Canadian government over the last 35 years," according to the assessment.[206][207]

Domestic policy

The Trudeau government's economic policy relied on increased tax revenues to pay for increased government spending. While the government did not balanced the budget in its first term, it purported being fiscally responsible as it reduced the country Debt-to-GDP ratio every year until the 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.[208] Trudeau's progressive social policy included strong advocacy for feminism and abortion rights,[209] and introduced the right to medically-assisted dying.[210] Canada set targets to welcome an increased number of immigrants and refugees.[211][212] Canada also legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2018.[213]

His environmental policy included introducing new commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% before 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.[214] His main tool for reaching this target is a federal carbon pricing policy.[215] Trudeau's parliament also adopted legislation for marine conservation,[216] banning single-use plastic,[217] and strengthening environmental impact assessments.[218] However, Trudeau is in favour of oil and gas pipelines to bring Canadian fossil fuel resources to foreign markets.[219]

SNC-Lavalin affair

On February 8, 2019, The Globe and Mail reported that sources close to the government said that the Prime Minister's Office had allegedly attempted to influence Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould concerning an ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. When asked about the allegations, Trudeau said that the story in the Globe was false and that he had never "directed" Wilson-Raybould concerning the case.[220] Wilson-Raybould did not comment on the matter, citing solicitor-client privilege.[221] Soon after, Trudeau voluntarily waived privilege and cabinet confidences, permitting her to speak.[222] On February 11, the Ethics Commissioner announced the opening of an investigation into the allegations. Trudeau said he "welcomed the investigation".[223][224] The Justice Committee of the House of Commons has conducted a series of hearings on the alleged interference.[225][226][227] The investigation heard from several witnesses, including Jody Wilson-Raybould, who submitted as evidence a telephone call she secretly recorded between herself and Privy Council Clerk, Michael Wernick, which was subsequently released to the public.[228] On the recording, Wernick is heard asking to understand why the "DPA route" is not being used, stating that people were "talking past each other", and suggesting Trudeau obtain independent legal advice from former Supreme Court Justice Beverly McLachlin. Wilson-Raybould is heard suggesting that Trudeau would be "breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence". On March 19, 2019, the Liberal committee members voted as a bloc to shut down the Justice Committee's investigation.[229]

Trudeau was the subject of an investigation by Canada's Ethics Commissioner, pursuant to the Conflict of Interest Act, in regards to criminal charges against SNC-Lavalin in the SNC-Lavalin affair. The commission's final report, issued August 14, 2019, concluded "Mr. Trudeau contravened section 9 of the Act".[230][231][232][233][234]

Foreign policy

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the 2018 CUSMA agreement.

In October 2015, Trudeau stated that, once prime minister, he would end Canada's airstrike mission against ISIL.[235][236] In his mandate letter to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, he also called for increased focus on Canadian trainers for local troops and humanitarian aid for the region.[237]

In November 2015, Trudeau was asked whether his plans to change Canada's contribution to the fight against ISIL and to repeal parts of Bill C-51 would change following the terrorist attacks in Paris. Trudeau responded, "It's too soon to jump to conclusions, but obviously governments have a responsibility to keep their citizens safe, while defending our rights and freedoms, and that balance is something the Canadian government, and indeed all governments around the world, will be focusing on."[238][239][240]

In June 2016, Trudeau's Liberals voted against a Conservative motion in Parliament to recognize ISIL's atrocities as genocide; during a question period, Trudeau said that Canada "strongly condemns the atrocities committed by" ISIL but voted against the resolution because "We do not feel that politicians should be weighing in on this first and foremost. Determinations of genocide need to be made in an objective, responsible way. That is exactly what we have formally requested the international authorities weigh in on."[241] Following the issuance of a report by a United Nations inquiry formally concluding that ISIL was perpetrating a genocide of Yazidis, Trudeau's government recognized the genocide.[242]

Trudeau meeting with State Counsellor of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in June 2017

Trudeau supported the Harper-negotiated arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and Trudeau's government approved export permits for the shipment of most of Canadian-made LAV III combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia under the deal,[243][244] which is valued at $11.3 billion[244] or $15 billion.[243] Human rights and arms control groups have repeatedly called upon Trudeau to halt the deal in light of Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record and the humanitarian crisis associated with the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[243] In October 2018, Trudeau condemned the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, promised "consequences";[245] later that month, following Khashoggi's killing and the continuation of the war in Yemen, Trudeau announced that his government was suspending the issuance of new arms export permits to Saudi Arabia pending a review.[244]

In August 2018, Canada called for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar. In response to Canada's criticism, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada's ambassador, and froze trade with Canada.[246] Trudeau said that Canada will "continue to speak clearly and firmly on issues of human rights at home and abroad wherever we see the need".[247]

Trudeau with Emmanuel Macron, Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and other leaders at the 45th G7 summit in Biarritz, France

Upon hearing the news of former Cuban President Fidel Castro's passing, Trudeau released a statement that described Castro as a "remarkable leader" and a "larger than life leader who served his people"; the remark was criticized.[248]

In 2017, Trudeau criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's issuance of an executive order banning refugees from seven countries, six of which have Muslim majorities, from entering the United States. On social media, Trudeau displayed support for affected refugees.[249]

In September 2018, as the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar became ethnic cleansing against the country's Rohingya Muslim minority,[250] Canada stripped Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship.[251]

Since Trudeau was elected as Prime Minister, over 25,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Canada.[252][253]

UN Security Council bid

In June 2020, Canada lost a vote on temporary membership of the United Nations Security Council. Trudeau was criticized for having an unclear message on the world stage.[254] Meanwhile, opposition leader Andrew Scheer criticized the campaign as "another foreign affairs failure for Justin Trudeau," accusing him of "[selling] out Canada's principles for a personal vanity project.[255] Former U.N. ambassador under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Stephen Lewis, pointed to public controversies affecting the Trudeau "brand" as having played a role in the results, such as the prime minister's much-talked-about trip to India in 2018 and photos of the prime minister in blackface that were revealed during the 2019 federal election campaign.[256] However, Bessma Momani, an international affairs expert at the University of Waterloo, said it is not fair to see the loss as an indictment of Trudeau's global popularity.[257] Chris Westdal, a former Canadian diplomat who had headed missions in Moscow and Geneva, also dismissed criticisms of Trudeau's image as having an effect on Canada's standing internationally, writing in an op-ed for the Ottawa Citizen that "Though his critics wouldn’t have you believe it, our prime minister is known and respected in the world for more than colourful socks and zany costumes."[258]

Other observers and commentators, including Adam Chapnick, author of Canada on the United Nations Security Council: A Small Power on a Large Stage, and Thomas Juneau, Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, did not even mention Trudeau's personal "brand" as a factor in their respective analyses, but have highlighted more complex factors they felt were more likely to have affected the outcome of the bid, and Canada's international outlook more generally. Among these were the late start to Canada's campaign (roughly a decade after competitors Ireland and Norway);[259][260] a structural decline in Canadian foreign policy that predated[261] and continued into[262] Trudeau's premiership, including Trudeau's government requiring considerable time and resources to deal with Donald Trump's administration[260] and rivalries with such countries as China, India, and Saudi Arabia; internal friction between the prime minister and former Liberal Party leader turned U.N. ambassador Stéphane Dion;[263] and even flaws within the selection process and the UNSC apparatus itself, including the veto power of its permanent membership leading to a "perpetual stalemate"[264] and the ultra-competitiveness of Canada being clustered with European countries, which tend to vote as a bloc,[265] an element of the campaign that Trudeau had also found fault with. In a press conference on 17 June 2020, the day the vote was to be held, Trudeau stated, "I have nothing but respect for our two competitors, Ireland and Norway, that have demonstrated an engagement in the world. It is unfortunate that we’re in a situation of having to compete against friends for this."[257]

Following the results, at a press conference the following day, Trudeau went on to cite Canada's late start to the campaign as a significant factor in the outcome. He then declared that Canada would nevertheless have a strong global voice due to the deepened relations it had forged with other countries, and that it would "continue to work with [allies] on all our shared values on the world stage."[256]

2019 federal election

On September 11, 2019, Trudeau visited the Governor General, Julie Payette, to request the dissolution of Parliament (the act which launches an election).[266] Prior to the formal start of the election, Trudeau announced his intention to only participate in the three leaders' debates, two organized by the Leaders' Debates Commission, and one organized by TVA.[267] The Citytv/Maclean's debate was held on September 12, with an empty podium left on stage for Trudeau.[268][269][270] The Munk Debate on foreign policy was originally scheduled on October 1,[268] although its organizers cancelled the event as a result of Trudeau's decision to not attend.[271][272]

In September 2019, controversial pictures and video were published showing Trudeau in brownface and blackface.[273] On September 18, 2019, Time magazine published a photograph of Trudeau wearing brownface makeup in the spring of 2001, at an Arabian Nights-themed gala, while Trudeau was a teacher at West Point Grey Academy.[274] Trudeau publicly apologized, agreeing the photo was racist and saying: "I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better and I didn't. I'm really sorry."[275] He further went on to say "It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do".[276] Trudeau also admitted to wearing blackface makeup in high school while singing "Day-O" at a talent show that was subsequently published by Global News.[277] A third instance, a video, of Trudeau in racist dress was also published.[278] After this video was published, Trudeau admitted he could not remember how often he had worn blackface makeup.[279]

In the days following the scandal, pollsters pointed out that many Canadians either were not bothered by the scandal or had accepted Trudeau's apology.[280][281][282][283] Additionally, minority community groups, racialized commentators and some of Trudeau's opponents came to his defence.[284][285][286][287] Others were more critical, including members of his own party.[288]

Two official debates were organized and held by the newly created Leaders' Debates Commission.[289] The English language debate took place on October 7 and the French on October 10.[290][291] Both debates took place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.[290][292]

2019 election results

Canadian federal election 2019 showing the ridings by winning party colour

Trudeau's Liberal Party won the most seats in the 2019 federal election, but the Party lost 20 seats in the House of Commons (lowering its total from 177 to 157) from the time of dissolution.[293] Nevertheless, the Liberals won enough seats to allow Trudeau to form a minority government.[294] For the first time since 1979, the party that garnered a large share of the national popular vote did not win the most seats—Trudeau had 33.1 per cent of the popular vote, while conservative leader Andrew Scheer had 34.4 per cent.[295][296] It was also the first time a government took power with less than 35 per cent of the national popular vote since John A. Macdonald, in 1867, who had 34.8 per cent of the votes.[297] In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Liberal party won 14 per cent and 10 per cent of the popular vote, respectively.[298] In Ontario, Liberals won all 25 Toronto seats and 24 of 29 seats in the surrounding suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area—reportedly due in part to the unpopularity of the Ontario Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford.[295][299]

COVID-19 pandemic

Trudeau at the 56th Munich Security Conference on 17 February 2020

Justin Trudeau was Prime Minister during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. His government's response to the Pandemic included funds for provinces and territories to adapt to the new situation, funds for coronavirus research, travel restrictions, screening of international flights, self-insolation orders under the Quarantine Act, an industrial strategy, and a public health awareness campaign. To deal with the economic impact of the pandemic, Trudeau waved student loans payments, increased the Canada Child Benefit, doubled the annual Goods and Services Tax payment, and introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as part of the first package in March. In April 2020, Trudeau introduced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Business Account, and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit. On April 30, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux issued a report projecting the federal deficit for the fiscal year 2020 could be in excess of $252 billion, based on nearly $146 billion in spending on federal aid measures.[300] Trudeau also deployed the Canadian armed forces in long-term care homes for contingency planning in Quebec and Ontario as part of Operation LASER.

WE Charity Ethics Investigation

Following complaints by opposition parties that the Trudeau family had ties to WE Charity, the Ethics Commissioner on July 3, 2020 announced an investigation into Trudeau's and the government's decision to have the charity administer a summer, student-grant program which could assist students financially during the COVID-19 epidemic. Trudeau responded by saying WE was the charity that had the capability to administer such a program. WE and the federal government decided to "part ways" leaving administration of the grant program to the federal government.[301][302][303]

We Charity was criticized for its close ties to the Trudeau family; the investigation came after revelations that Trudeau's mother, brother, and wife all were paid nearly $300,000 to speak at WE Charity events.[304][305][306][307] On July 16, 2020, the ethics commissioner also announced the investigation was being expanded to include Finance Minister Bill Morneau.[308]

Personal life

Family

Trudeau with his wife Sophie Grégoire at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

Trudeau first met Sophie Grégoire when they were both children growing up in Montreal; Grégoire was a classmate and childhood friend of Trudeau's youngest brother, Michel.[309] They reconnected as adults in June 2003, when Grégoire, by then a Quebec television personality, was assigned as Trudeau's co-host for a charity ball; they began dating several months later. Trudeau and Grégoire became engaged in October 2004, and married on May 28, 2005, in a ceremony at Montreal's Sainte-Madeleine d'Outremont Church.[310] They have three children: a boy born in 2007, a girl born in 2009, and a boy born in 2014.[311][312][313][314][315]

In June 2013, two months after Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party, the couple sold their home in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood of Montreal.[316] They began living in a rented home in Ottawa's Rockcliffe Park, the neighbourhood near where Trudeau resided as a child during his father's time as prime minister.[316]

On August 18, 2014, an intruder broke into the house while Grégoire and the couple's three children were sleeping and left a threatening note; however, nothing was stolen and there was no damage to the property. Following the incident, Trudeau, who was in Winnipeg at the time of the break-in, stated his intention to inquire with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about his home security.[317] After his 2015 electoral victory, Trudeau opted to live at Rideau Cottage, on the grounds of Rideau Hall, until necessary repairs are completed at 24 Sussex to make it habitable.[318]

On March 12, 2020 the Trudeau family self-isolated at their Rideau home in Ottawa after his wife began exhibiting flu-like symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19.[319][320] By March 28, she had recovered.[321]

Religion

Trudeau's father was a devout Roman Catholic[322] and his mother converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism just prior to their wedding.[323] As a child, Justin attended Mass each Sunday and said his prayers each night before bedtime. He became a lapsed Catholic at age 18, as he felt that much of his day-to-day life was not addressed by the formality and structure of the church.[62][324] Trudeau described his faith during this period as "like so many Catholics across this country, I said, 'OK, I'm Catholic, I'm of faith, but I'm just not really going to go to church. Maybe on Easter, maybe midnight Mass at Christmas.'"[62][324] After the death of his brother Michel in 1998, Trudeau was persuaded by a friend to participate in an Alpha course, during which he regained his faith.[62][324] In 2011, Trudeau stated, "My own personal faith is an extremely important part of who I am and the values that I try to lead with."[325]

Honours

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

Ribbon Description Notes
QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Canada
Honorary degrees
Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 Scotland July 5, 2017 University of Edinburgh Doctorate Yes [327][328]
 New York May 16, 2018 New York University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) Yes [329][330]

Electoral record

2019 Canadian federal election: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Justin Trudeau 25,957 51.1 -0.88 $87,090.50
New Democratic Christine Paré 9,748 19.2 -6.67 $4,985.12
Bloc Québécois Christian Gagnon 8,124 16.0 +3.82 none listed
Green Juan Vazquez 3,741 7.4 +4.56 none listed
Conservative Sophie Veilleux 2,155 4.2 -0.51 $13,803.36
Rhinoceros Jean-Patrick Cacereco Berthiaume 363 0.7 +0.06 $119.67
People's Mark Sibthorpe 322 0.6 none listed
Christian Heritage Susanne Lefebvre 186 0.4 $356.56
Independent Alain Magnan 76 0.1 $0.00
No affiliation Luc Lupien 75 0.1 $0.00
No affiliation Steve Penner 34 0.1 $250.00
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,781 100.0
Total rejected ballots 938
Turnout 51,719 67.2
Eligible voters 76,995
Source: Elections Canada[331][332]
2015 Canadian federal election: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Justin Trudeau 26,391 51.98 +14.05 $129,821.55
New Democratic Anne Lagacé Dowson 13,132 25.87 −3.6 $111,652.95
Bloc Québécois Maxime Claveau 6,182 12.18 −12.71 $19,007.27
Conservative Yvon Vadnais 2,390 4.71 −0.33 $5,649.91
Green Danny Polifroni 1,443 2.84 +0.95 $82.71
Independent Chris Lloyd 505 0.99 $5,759.41
Rhinoceros Tommy Gaudet 323 0.64
Independent Kim Waldron 159 0.31 $2,101.20
Marxist–Leninist Peter Macrisopoulos 142 0.28 −0.25
No affiliation Beverly Bernardo 103 0.2
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,770 98.64   $213,091.50
Total rejected ballots 698 1.36
Turnout 51,468 65.44
Eligible voters 78,649
Liberal notional hold Swing +8.83
Source: Elections Canada[333][334]
2013 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election
Candidate First Ballot
Points* % Votes %
Justin Trudeau 24,669 80.1 81,389 78.76
Joyce Murray 3,131 10.2 12,148 11.76
Martha Hall Findlay 1,760 5.7 6,585 6.37
Martin Cauchon 816 2.6 1,630 1.58
Deborah Coyne 214 0.7 833 0.81
Karen McCrimmon 210 0.7 757 0.73
Total 30,800 100.0 104,552 100.00

*Each federal electoral district had 100 points, which were determined by the voters in the district.

2011 Canadian federal election: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Justin Trudeau 16,429 38.41 −3.06
New Democratic Marcos Radhames Tejada 12,102 28.29 +19.55
Bloc Québécois Vivian Barbot 11,091 25.93 −12.76
Conservative Shama Chopra 2,021 4.73 −2.90
Green Danny Polifroni 806 1.88 −0.96
Marxist–Leninist Peter Macrisopoulos 228 0.53
Not affiliated1 Joseph Young 95 0.22
Total valid votes 42,772 100.0  
Total rejected ballots 588
Turnout 43,330
Source: Official Results, Elections Canada.
1 Communist League
2008 Canadian federal election: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Justin Trudeau 17,724 41.47 +2.99 $76,857
Bloc Québécois Vivian Barbot 16,535 38.69 −2.06 $70,872
New Democratic Costa Zafiropoulos 3,734 8.74 +1.04 $5,745
Conservative Mustaque Sarker 3,262 7.63 −0.69 $44,958
Green Ingrid Hein 1,213 2.84 −0.76 $814
Independent Mahmood Raza Baig 267 0.62 +0.20
Total valid votes/Expense limit 42,735 100.00   $81,172
Total rejected ballots 576 1.33
Turnout 43,311 61.77
Eligible voters 70,115
Liberal gain from Bloc Québécois Swing +2.53
Baig's share of popular vote as an independent candidate is compared to his share in the 2006 general election as a Canadian Action Party candidate.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.

Published works

  • Trudeau, Justin (October 20, 2014). Common Ground. HarperCollins Canada. ISBN 9781443433372. OCLC 937860095.

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  1. ^ This position was vacant from February 6, 2006, until November 20, 2019.
  2. ^ This position has been vacant since November 3, 2015.

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