Premiership of Justin Trudeau

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Premiership of Justin Trudeau
November 4, 2015 – present
MonarchElizabeth II
PremierJustin Trudeau
Cabinet29th Canadian Ministry
SeatOffice of the Prime Minister
Stephen Harper
Royal Coat of Arms of Canada
Official website

The premiership of Justin Trudeau began on November 4, 2015, when the first Cabinet headed by Justin Trudeau was sworn in by Governor General David Johnston.[1] Trudeau was invited to form the 29th Canadian Ministry and become Prime Minister of Canada following the 2015 election, where Trudeau's Liberal Party won a majority of the seats in the House of Commons of Canada, defeating the Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government.

Trudeau has promised to decentralize power from the Prime Minister's Office and give Cabinet a larger role in governing, stating "government by cabinet is back".[2]


In July 2016, Trudeau announced the formation of the first Prime Minister's Youth Council. Thirty Canadians aged 16 to 24 will comprise the board, which will advise the prime minister on education, economy, climate change and other issues affecting youth.[3]

Domestic policy[edit]


Trudeau received criticism when he provided a $372.5 million CAD bailout to Bombardier. The public was angered when it was revealed that Bombardier executives received US$32 million of these funds in bonuses, while laying off 14,500 workers.[4] It was also revealed that Patrick Pichette, a director of Bombardier Inc. also sits as a board member of the Trudeau Foundation.[5]

Legalization of recreational cannabis[edit]

In their electoral platform, the Liberal party wanted to legalize the use of recreational cannabis in Canada. The ministers of Justice and Public Safety and the minister of Health would work on legislation to legalize cannabis. Provinces asked many times for a delay in order to put the right structures in place. In an interview with Pierre Bruneau on TVA, Justin Trudeau said that July 1, 2018, is not necessarily the date of the legalization.[6] On June 21, 2018, the Cannabis Act received Royal Assent and came into effect October 17, 2018, formally legalizing the recreational use of cannabis in Canada.

Electoral reform[edit]

In the 2015 electoral campaign, Trudeau's liberals promised that the 2015 federal election would be the last one to be first-past-the-post. If elected, the Trudeau government would reform the electoral system to make it more representative. Soon after being elected, the government asked each member of the House of Commons to hold consultations in their riding to hear the citizens.[7] However, the government announced that the electoral reform would not be engaged because the prime minister doesn't want to see extremists entering the House of Commons.[8]


Soon after being elected, Prime Minister Trudeau flew to Paris in order to attend the COP21 summit. During the 2015 campaign, Trudeau stood up for more regulations for industries and wanted to go further on the battle against climate change. His Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna did work hard for pushing the most global accord in Paris. However, the Trudeau government pushes to build several pipelines across Canada in order to sell crude oil from Alberta's oil sands.[9] Whether it is in Quebec or in British Columbia, the opposition is very strong against those pipelines.[10] The opposition to new pipelines took a step forward when BC Premier John Horgan said that no pipeline transporting oil from Alberta would pass through BC. Soon after, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said that no more BC wines would be sold in Alberta.[11]


As a well known self-described feminist, Justin Trudeau nominated a gender-balanced cabinet consisting of 15 men and 15 women. On November 4, 2015, a journalist asked him why it was a priority to have a cabinet that was gender balanced, to which Trudeau answered succinctly, "Because it's 2015".[12] In January 2018, in a speech at the World Economic Forum, Trudeau called for critical discussion on issues brought up by the Me Too, Time's Up, and Women's March movements.[13] Trudeau has also advocated a high standard and "zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment or other forms of misconduct by his employees or caucus colleagues".[14] As leader of the Liberal party, Trudeau initiated investigations on several members of parliament resulting in the dismissal of cabinet minister Kent Hehr, the resignation of MP Darshan Kang, and the suspension and later expulsion of MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti.[15] In an interview, Trudeau explained that the zero tolerance standard applied to himself as well, and stated that "I've been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people's space and people's headspace as well."[16] However in 2018, after it was revealed by a woman that a 'groping' incident occurred in 2000, Trudeau said there was no need to conduct an investigation into the allegation.[17] In March 2019, Liberal MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes resigned as a member of the Liberal caucus, citing that Trudeau shouted at her on the phone when she told him she would not like to run in the 2019 federal election. Caesar-Chavannes told the Globe and Mail that Trudeau shouted that she didn't appreciate him. As a result of this resignation, and the resignation of other prominent female liberal members of parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott (who resigned from cabinet, but not from caucus following the SNC-Lavalin affair), opposition MPs, such as Candice Bergen MP, have accused Trudeau of being a "fake feminist".[18] [19][20]


The headlines made by the body of Alan Kurdi on a beach of Turkey in September 2015 made a significant turnover during the 2015 campaign. Then-candidate Trudeau made a plea that under his premiership, Canada would accept 25,000 refugees in Canada.[21] One month after taking office, the first plane of refugees was landing at Pearson airport in Toronto. Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne were there to welcome arriving refugees.[22]

Trudeau has also advocated and supported open border immigration that starkly contrasts President Trump, publicly announcing “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada”, one day after Trump's executive order banning refugees and visitors from Muslim-majority countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.[23] In winter 2017, soon after President Trump took office in Washington, many Haitians who were in the United States due to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti decided to pass through the border in upstate New York to cross into Quebec. Afraid of being deported to Haiti, many decided to come illegally to Canada in hope of a better life. The RCMP, the Custom Agency and the Army set up a temporary camp in Lacolle, Quebec, in order to regulate the influx of people trying to come into Canada. As the Canadian government recognized the United States as a safe country for immigrants, they would not be taken as refugees if they arrived at a custom border from the United States. As a result, they needed to pass through illegally to be able to request refugee status. Both the Conservatives and NDP oppositions asked the government, both for different reasons, to stop the influx of Refugee claimants from Roxham Road in Lacolle.[24]

Trudeau's government has also objected to the term 'illegal border crossers'.[25] There has been an influx of overland illegal border crossings, and conflict between the Federal government and the Ontario government over how to provide housing for the incoming migrants.[26][27]


On 2017 the Liberal government announced Canada will welcome nearly one million immigrants over the next three years. The number of migrants will climb to 310,000 in 2018, up from 300,000 in 2017. That number will rise to 330,000 in 2019 then 340,000 in 2020.[28][29][30]

On October 31, 2018, the Government of Canada had updated its multi-year immigration levels plan, which would see the number of new immigrants in Canada rise to 350,000 by 2021. This plan was to see immigration levels rise by 40,000 more than Canada's target of 310,000 immigrants in 2018.[31]

Quebec City mosque attack[edit]

On the night of January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a young Quebec City citizen, opened fire in a mosque in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City. Bissonnette checked in on the Twitter account of Ben Shapiro, editor in chief of the conservative news site the Daily Wire, 93 times in the month leading up to the shooting.[32] Six people were killed and 19 others were seriously injured. The Prime minister said in the House of Commons "This was a group of innocents targeted for practising their faith. Make no mistake, this was a terrorist act.[33]Following the massacre Trudeau attended and gave a speech at religious ceremonies with Premier of Québec Philippe Couillard.[34] Trudeau has also criticized La Meute (a small far right group), condemning them as "racists … these ‘nonos’ who wear dog paws on their T-shirts."[35]

Vegreville Processing Centre[edit]

In 2017, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada decided to close the processing centre in Vegreville, Alberta, and to relocate the centre to Edmonton. The community of 5,000 people, located about 100 km east of Edmonton, decided to fight back against the decision. 280 people work at the centre, and according to Global News, 2/3 of the workers would quit instead of moving west to Edmonton.[36] The battle against the closure of the Vegreville Processing Centre is supported by the Rural Canada Matters movement.[37]

Phoenix Pay system[edit]

Foreign policy[edit]

Death of Fidel Castro[edit]

After the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in November 2016, Trudeau released a statement that described Castro as a "remarkable leader" and a "larger than life leader who served his people."[38] Trudeau was criticized by political observers in Canada and the United States for the statement.[39] United States Senator Marco Rubio called the statement "shameful and embarrassing," while Canadian MP Maxime Bernier called his remarks "repugnant."[39] The Washington Post questioned many of the claims made in Trudeau's statements, saying that Trudeau "appears to accept outdated Cuban government spin as current fact."[40]


In 2016, Trudeau visited China and attended the G-20 summit in Hangzhou where he was affectionately nicknamed “xiao tudou” (小土豆) meaning little potato by the Chinese public.[41] Trudeau visited China again in December 2017 to launch trade negotiations.[41] Before agreeing to formally start talks, Trudeau wanted China to agree to a broad framework included collective bargaining and occupational health and safety standards as part of a progressive trade agenda, but this was not acceptable to Premier Li Keqiang, while this also "raises obvious questions about the advice the Prime Minister’s Office was getting from its embassy in Beijing, and in particular from its ambassador, former Liberal cabinet minister John McCallum".[42][43][44]


Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Washington D.C., 1 April 2016

Trudeau drew criticism for his trip to India in February 2018, as the official schedule had few business meetings while having numerous photo ops at tourist stops. The BBC wrote that Trudeau was "jet-setting around the country to take part in what appears to be a series of photo ops cunningly designed to showcase his family's elaborate traditional wardrobe".[45][46] In addition, Liberal MP Randeep Sarai originally invited convicted attempted murder Jaspal Atwal to an event (Atwal posed with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at an event in India), although the invite was later rescinded.[47][48] The Atwal invite controversy also led to fears from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi that Trudeau was appealing to Sikh fundamentalists.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Trudeau has been urged to stop the $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia – believed to be the largest arms sale in Canadian history.[49] The Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen has been criticized for "indiscriminately targeting civilians". Saudi Arabia is also accused of massive human rights violations.[50] Trudeau has defended the Harper-negotiated arms deal with Saudi Arabia as "a matter of principle." He said: "It’s important that people know that when they sign a deal with Canada, a change of government isn’t going to lead to the contract being ripped up."[51]


Aga Khan[edit]

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.[52][53] The Ethics Commissioner's report, released in December 2017, found that Trudeau had violated four provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act.[54] By breaking the law, he became the first sitting prime minister to do so.[55]

SNC-Lavalin scandal[edit]


On February 8, 2019, The Globe and Mail reported that sources close to the government said that the Prime Minister's Office allegedly had attempted to influence Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould concerning an ongoing prosecution of SNC-Lavalin while she was Minister of Justice and Attorney General. 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.[56] Wilson-Raybould refused to comment on the matter, citing solicitor-client privilege[57] and, on February 11, the Ethics Commissioner announced the opening of an investigation into the allegations. Trudeau welcomed the investigation, stating that "Her presence in cabinet should actually speak for itself."[58][59] Wilson-Raybould resigned from the Trudeau cabinet on February 12, 2019, the next day.[60] Trudeau said he did not anticipate her resignation and expressed disappointment over her decision, as it was not reflective of the conversations they had had during their recent meetings. Following Wilson-Raybould's resignation, Trudeau further elaborated by stating that the government abided by all rules, did its job properly, and that if anyone within the government - including the former attorney-general - felt otherwise, the responsibility lay with Wilson-Raybould to address these concerns directly to him. Trudeau refutes Wilson-Raybould's claim that this is an issue involving attorney-client privilege and mentioned that she did not approach him to discuss or highlight any concerns regarding this case.[61] She has retained Thomas Cromwell, a former judge for the Supreme Court of Canada, as counsel in order to determine the scope of information she is allowed to share with the public.[62] On February 18, 2019, Gerald Butts, Trudeau's principal secretary, resigned from the government and categorically denied all allegations.[63]

Jody Wilson-Raybould testimony at the House of Commons Justice Committee[edit]

On February 27, 2019 Jody Wilson-Raybould testified in front of the House of Commons Justice Committee that "For a period of approximately four months between September and December 2018, I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in my role as the Attorney General of Canada in an inappropriate effort to secure a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with SNC-Lavalin."[64] She named 11 people involved with the "sustained effort" to politically interfere which include Gerald Butts, Trudeau's former principal secretary, Katie Telford, Trudeau's chief of staff, Bill Morneau, Trudeau's Minister of Finance, and many other high ranking people within the Prime Ministers Office and the clerk of the Privy Council, Michael Wernick. She says she was promised a line of positive op-eds if she intervened in the case to say what she was doing is proper.[65] Further, Wilson-Raybould says she received "veiled threats" while receiving the sustained pressure even after saying no previously.[66]

Later that same day in a news conference in Quebec, Justin Trudeau said that “I completely disagree with the former attorney general’s version of events,” adding he had not ruled out whether she will remain a Liberal MP or be allowed to run for the party in the fall election.[67]

High profile resignations[edit]

In the wake of the SNC-Lavalin Affair, during February 2019, Principal Secretary Gerald Butts resigned from office. In March 2019, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott resigned from cabinet while remaining members of the Liberal party caucus. After delivering his second testimony to the Justice Committee in March, the Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick resigned from office.[68][69]


A Leger poll conducted for the Canadian Press found that 41 percent of respondents thought Trudeau had done something wrong amid the SNC scandal, while 12 percent thought he hadn’t. Another 41 percent were undecided.[70]


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See also[edit]