Canada Expands Citizenship to Foreigners in Bid to Stem Exodus

By Shelly Hagan , E. K BenjKait Bolongaro

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is trying a new tactic to mitigate the economic damage from a dramatic drop in immigration: persuade foreigners already in the country to stay.

Canada announced plans last week to make it easier for the more than 1 million temporary students, workers and asylum seekers now living in the country to become permanent residents, giving them a path to citizenship. In an interview Monday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said it’s the logical way forward to make up for a decline in foreigners moving to Canada during the pandemic.

Justin Trudeau Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg

“For those who are already in Canada and here on a temporary basis, it behooves us to see whether or not there’s a way to accelerate their pathway to becoming Canadian,” Mendicino told Bloomberg.

Temporary Halt

Canada is seeing a decline in non-permanent resident inflows

Canada is seeing a decline in non-permanent resident inflows

Declining immigration is another blow to a Canadian economy that has relied heavily on foreigners to drive labor force growth and demand, particularly in major cities. In Toronto, for example, the drop in newcomers is already generating cracks in the city’s condo market.

Canada relies on two tracks of migration in any given year: permanent residents and a much larger group of temporary residents. Both are down dramatically.

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After recording a net increase of 190,952 temporary residents last year, the first six months of 2020 has seen a net decrease of 18,221, according to Statistics Canada data.

The permanent track has also been upended. Canada admitted just 128,430 permanent residents between January and August, about half the number from the same period last year. At the current pace, Canada will be about 150,000 permanent residents short of its target this year of 341,000.

Trudeau Ratchets Up Immigration Targets to Boost Recovery

That’s having an impact on Canada’s total population, which grew just 0.1% in the three months through June, the second-lowest quarterly gain in records dating back to 1946.

Many migrants work in essential services like health care, where capacity is currently being tested, Mendicino said. Making temporary residents permanent will address Canada’s short-term needs to respond to Covid-19 and help the country address the longer-term demographic challenges, the minister said.

The government will be looking “at that domestic immigration pool in very short order to identify the workers, the students, the asylum seekers who have the skill sets that align with essential services in the economy,” he said.

Students from other countries are particularly attractive as a potential counter to the aging population, and the government is making it easier for them to work in Canada, the minister said. Even before last week’s announcement, universities were given permission to have foreign students on campus as long as they agreed to abide by Covid-19 protocols.

“International students who tend to be a younger population, who tend to be right at the outset of their careers having a longer period within their lifespan to contribute and they are a very attractive pool that we’re going to look very closely at,” Mendicino said.

Justin Pierre James Trudeau 

Trudeau 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. 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.

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. He started studying engineering at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 2002 but withdrew in 2003. 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.

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. 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. 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, was pregnant and due in December. Justin Trudeau was born on Christmas Day 1971 at 9:27 pm EST at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. 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.

Trudeau is predominantly of Scottish and French Canadian descent. His grandfathers were businessman Charles-Émile Trudeau and Scottish-born James Sinclair, who served as Minister of Fisheries in the cabinet of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent. Trudeau’s maternal great-grandfather Thomas Bernard was born in Makassar and immigrated to Penticton, British Columbia, in 1906 at age 15 with his family. Through the Bernard family, kinsmen of the Earls of Bandon,Trudeau is the 5th-great-grandson of Major-General William Farquhar, a leader in the founding of modern Singapore; Trudeau also has remote ethnic Malaccan and Ono Niha 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 at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Basilica on the afternoon of January 16, 1972, which marked his first public appearance.

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”. 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.  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.”

Childhood

His parents announced their separation on May 27, 1977, when Trudeau was five years old and his father having custody. There had been repeated rumours of a reconciliation for many years afterwards. However, his mother’s attorney Michael Levine  filed in Toronto to the Supreme Court of Ontario for a no-fault divorce on November 16, 1983,  and finalized on April 2, 1984,  with his father announcing his intention to retire as prime minister on February 29 of that year.  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.”  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.”  Trudeau has three half-siblings, Kyle and Alicia, from his mother’s remarriage to Fried Kemper, and Sarah, from his father’s relationship with Deborah Coyne.

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.  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.  His mother purchased and moved into a new home nearby at 95 Queen Victoria Street in Ottawa’s New Edinburgh in September 1979. 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.

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.  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.  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. This was followed by one year at the private Lycée Claudel d’Ottawa. 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  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. 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”.  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.

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.

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.  Butts invited Trudeau to join the McGill Debating Union. They bonded while driving back to Montreal after a debate tournament at Princeton University  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.  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 with fellow West Point Grey Academy faculty member and friend Christopher Ingvaldson.  From 2002 to 2004, he studied engineering at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, a part of the Université de Montréal.  He started a master’s degree in environmental geography at McGill, but withdrew from the program to seek public office among other reasons.

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”.  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.

Trudeau, then 28, emerged as a prominent figure in October 2000, after delivering a eulogy at his father’s state funeral. Th dian 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”. A book issued by the CBC in 2003 included the speech in its list of significant Canadian events from the past fifty years.

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,  Major Talbot Mercer Papineau, who was killed on October 30, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele.  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. Ben Mulroney was a guest at Trudeau’s wedding.

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.  In 2002, Trudeau criticized the Government of British Columbia’s decision to stop its funding for a public avalanche warning system. 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.

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.  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. In 2006, he hosted the Giller Prize for literature.

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.”

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.

Political beginnings

See also: Electoral history of Justin Trudeau

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

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. Trudeau later wrote a public letter on the subject, describing the idea of Quebec nationhood as “against everything my father ever believed”.

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

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.  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.

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.

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. 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”. 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.  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.

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

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.

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.

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.”  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. After his re-election, he travelled the country hosting fundraisers for charities and the Liberal Party.

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.  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.

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.

However, Trudeau did not enter the race and Ignatieff was named leader in December 2008.  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.

Following the election, Trudeau said he was undecided about seeking the leadership;  months later on October 12 at Wilfrid Laurier University, he announced he would not seek the post because he had a young family. 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.

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. 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.

2013 leadership election

Main article: 2013 Liberal Party of Canada leadership election

On September 26, 2012, multiple media outlets started reporting that Trudeau would launch his leadership bid the following week.  While Trudeau was seen as a frontrunner for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he was criticized for his perceived lack of substance. 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.  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.

On October 2, 2012, Trudeau held a rally in Montreal to launch his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party. 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.  His brother Alexandre also took a break from his documentary work to be a senior advisor on Trudeau’s campaign.

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.  The following day, Trudeau apologized, saying he was wrong to use “Alberta” as “shorthand” in referring to Stephen Harper’s government. 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.

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.  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. 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.

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.

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.  Joyce Murray finished in second place with 10.2 per cent points, ahead of Martha Hall Findlay’s 5.7 per cent. Trudeau had lost only five ridings, all to Murray and all in BC.

Leadership, 2013–2015

Justin Trudeau delivering a speech on a doorstep in Toronto’s Little Italy, 2014

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.

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.  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.

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.

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.

On January 27, 2014, Trudeau and MP Carolyn Bennett escorted Chrystia Freeland into the House of Commons, as is traditional for by-election victors. 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”.

2015 federal election

Main article: Canadian federal election, 2015Trudeau 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; a gain of 150 seats compared to the 2011 federal election.

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,  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. 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”.  Harper announced his resignation as the head of the Conservative Party that night.

Prime Minister of Canada

Premiership of Justin Trudeau

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. Trudeau also issued a statement promising to rebuild relations with Indigenous peoples in Canada and run an open, ethical and transparent government.  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.

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. The Ethics Commissioner’s report, released in December 2017, found that Trudeau had violated four provisions of the Conflict of Interest Act.  He became the first sitting prime minister to break federal conflict of interest rules.

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.

Assessment of campaign promises

In July 2019, a group of 20 independent academics published an assessment on Trudeau’s tenure as prime minister, 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.

Domestic policy

Abortion

Trudeau has stated that he wishes to form a party that is “resolutely pro-choice” and that potential Liberal candidates in the 2015 election who are anti-abortion would not be greenlighted for the nomination if they did not agree to vote pro-choice on abortion bills. This stance was in line with a resolution passed by a majority of Liberal party members at its 2012 policy convention. Trudeau’s stance was criticized by conservative Catholics, with former MP Jim Karygiannis saying it will “definitely hurt the party”,  and Toronto cardinal Thomas Collins writing to Trudeau urging him to reverse his ruling,  leading Trudeau to defend the position.

Deficit

During the election, the Liberal Party promised to run a deficit of around $10 billion per year, but Trudeau’s Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, announced in his first budget in March 2016 that the government would have a $29 billion deficit in 2016 and 2017.

Electoral reform

During the campaign prior to the 2015 federal election, Trudeau promised to eliminate the current voting system by the next federal election. Called “first-past-the-post” or “single-member plurality”, this system awards the House of Commons seat in any electoral district to the candidate who received the most votes in that electoral riding, and the party with the most seats forms the government. Consequently, it is possible for a political party to form a majority government with around 40 per cent of the popular vote across Canada.

Trudeau has said that he advocates a system where the distribution of seats is more in line with the popular vote on a Canada-wide basis, to be achieved by a new type of ballot that allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference.  However, Trudeau has said that he is open to proportional representation, which is more likely to produce coalition government

In December 2015, the government announced that an all-party parliamentary committee would be formed in early 2016 to consider other options. During a discussion of the plan, Minister of Democratic Institutions Maryam Monsef referred to it as “an open and robust process of consultation”. However, she refused to commit to the Conservative Party’s demand for a public referendum that would allow Canadians to vote on their preferred electoral system, indicating that she does not want to “prejudice the outcome of that consultation process”.

There was some controversy regarding the government’s initial plans for the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, as the Liberals announced that they would have a majority of the committee’s ten seats. Trudeau and Monsef subsequently altered their plans, ceding a majority of the seats to the opposition. Trudeau acknowledged the opposition’s concerns that “we were perhaps behaving in a way that was resembling more the previous government than the kind of approach and tone that we promised throughout the electoral campaign”, and stated they changed course to show otherwise.

On February 1, 2017, the newly appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould announced that the government had abandoned the electoral reform project and it was no longer a priority in her mandate letter from Trudeau.  In the letter, Trudeau wrote that “a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged” and that “without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest”.

On February 10, 2017, at a townhall in Yellowknife, Trudeau admitted he had “turned his back” on the promise to reform the electoral system.

Immigration

In 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.

Indigenous people

Trudeau giving a speech on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, October 2016

Trudeau met with hundreds of chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations on December 7, 2015, and laid out his philosophy and commitments to Indigenous peoples in Canada, to assure their “constitutionally guaranteed rights … a sacred obligation”. In brief,  he promised to rescind government policies that are in conflict with their rights, make a significant investment in education programs, increase general funding, and launch an enquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Trudeau also indicated that the new government would implement all of the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Trudeau has previously said that he would respect a First Nations community’s wishes regarding pipeline construction on their territory. Some First Nations leaders, including a councillor for the Squamish First Nation and prominent Mi’kmaw lawyer Pam Palmater have stated that they believe Trudeau’s purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline violates this promise

Infrastructure

During the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau said that if made prime minister, he would implement an infrastructure plan worth $60 billion (US$42 billion) in spending over 10 years.  Following his electoral win, in 2016, the Trudeau announced a 12-year, $180 billion (US$143 billion) infrastructure plan, with a focus on public transport, infrastructure in rural communities and Canada’s northern regions, green infrastructure and affordable housing.  The Trudeau government also is setting up an infrastructure bank to fund projects.

Marijuana

Trudeau first publicly expressed an interest in the legalization of marijuana while speaking at a rally in Kelowna, B.C. on June 24, 2013. He told a crowd, “I’m actually not in favour of decriminalizing cannabis. I’m in favour of legalizing it. Tax it, regulate. It’s one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids because the current war on drugs, the current model is not working. We have to use evidence and science to make sure we’re moving forward on that.

In an interview in August 2013, Trudeau said that the last time he had used marijuana was in 2010, after he had become a Member of Parliament: “We had a few good friends over for a dinner party, our kids were at their grandmother’s for the night, and one of our friends lit a joint and passed it around. I had a puff.” After analysing the results of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Trudeau reiterated his position in favour of the legalization in Canada, saying that Canadians would benefit from analysing the experiences of both Colorado and the state of Washington.

After the Liberal party formed the government in November 2015, with Trudeau as prime minister, he announced that a federal-provincial-territorial process was being created to discuss a jointly suitable process for the legalization of marijuana possession for recreational purposes. The plan is to remove marijuana consumption and incidental possession from the Criminal Code; however, new laws will be enacted for greater punishment of those convicted of supplying pot to minors and for impairment while driving a motor vehicle.  By late November 2015, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said that she and the ministers of Health and Public Safety were working on specifics as to the legislation.  In April 2016, the Trudeau government announced that it would aim to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis in Spring 2017.

The legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use (Cannabis Act, Bill C-45) was passed by the House of Commons of Canada in late November 2017; it passed second reading in the Senate of Canada on March 22, 2018. On June 18, 2018, the House passed the bill with most, but not all, of the Senate’s amendments.  The Senate accepted this version of the Act the following day.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the next day that recreational use of cannabis would no longer violate criminal law as of October 17, 2018. As of October 17, 2018, cannabis is legal in Canada for both recreational and medicinal use.

On October 17, the first day of legalization, the Government of Canada announced that it intends to grant pardons to Canadians convicted of simple cannabis possession charges.

Religious freedom

Trudeau has expressed opposition towards the proposed Quebec Charter of Values, a controversial charter in that province and elsewhere that among other things prohibited public sector employees from wearing or displaying “conspicuous” religious symbols, justifying that it would make the people of Quebec “choose between their freedom of religion and freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and their economic well-being and their acceptance in the workplace. That for me is a real concern.” Trudeau has remained on the sidelines of the debate regarding Quebec’s Bill 21.

Senate reform

Trudeau has long advocated changes that would make the Senate of Canada a less partisan house. In January 2014, he announced a step that began reducing Senate partisanship by removing Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus.

On December 5, 2015, after his appointment as prime minister, the new government’s democratic institutions minister, Maryam Monsef, with House leader Dominic LeBlanc, announced a major overhaul of the appointment process, as Trudeau had promised during the election campaign. The new system consists of five board members—three federal appointees and two from the relevant province—who will pick independent candidates, not officially affiliated with any political party, based on merit, a similar concept to the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments.

The stated goal of the December 2015 reform, was to improve the effectiveness of the Senate which had been, according to Monsef, “hampered by its reputation as a partisan institution”. She indicated that this reform would not require an amendment to the constitution. The advisory board was expected to have been appointed by the end of December 2015. The criteria for appointment to the Senate would be “outstanding personal qualities that include integrity and ethics and experience in public life, community service or leadership in their field of expertise”. At the time of the announcement, there were 17 Senate vacancies and these were expected to be filled by the end of 2016.

SNC-Lavalin affair

Main article: 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.  Wilson-Raybould did not comment on the matter, citing solicitor-client privilege. Soon after, Trudeau voluntarily waived privilege and cabinet confidences, permitting her to speak. On February 11, the Ethics Commissioner announced the opening of an investigation into the allegations. Trudeau said he “welcomed the investigation, The Justice Committee of the House of Commons has conducted a series of hearings on the alleged interference.  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.  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.

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 oclock.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

During the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau pledged to study the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before making a final decision on ratification.  Trudeau said that Canadians should know what effects TPP would have on different industries, adding that he would hold an open and serious discussion with Canadians.

After the United States withdrew from the TPP, Canada joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which incorporates most of the provisions of the TPP and which entered into force on December 30, 2018.

Women’s rights

Trudeau with Maryam Monsef and Marie-Claude Bibeau at a Women Deliver event

Trudeau identifies as a feminist,  having stated, “I am a feminist. I’m proud to be a feminist,” although his claim of being a feminist has been disputed.  Trudeau has also stated that “the Liberal Party is unequivocal in its defence of women’s rights. We are the party of the Charter.” After being sworn in as Prime Minister, when asked by a reporter why he felt gender parity was important when naming his cabinet, he replied, “Because it’s 2015.”  More recently, he has similarly answered to feminist organizations on social media that “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am writing back to let you know that I wholeheartedly agree: Poverty is Sexist”.

In January 2018, in a speech at the World Economic Forum, Trudeau called for critical discussion on issues brought up by the Me Too movement.  Trudeau has also advocated a high standard and holds a “zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment or other forms of misconduct by his employees or caucus colleagues”.  As the 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.  In an interview, Trudeau explained that the zero tolerance standard applied to himself as well and stated, “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.”

In the April 2019 Daughters of the Vote event organized by Equal Voice Canada in the House of Commons, many of its delegates turned their backs when Trudeau spoke as a protest for his actions of ousting former Cabinet Ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal caucus (see SNC-Lavalin Affair).

Foreign policy

See also: List of international prime ministerial trips made by Justin TrudeauMexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the 2018 CUSMA agreement.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in New Delhi on February 23, 2018.

In October 2015, Trudeau stated that, once prime minister, he would end Canada’s airstrike mission against ISIL.  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.

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.”

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.”  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. 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, which is valued at $11.3 billion  or $15 billion.  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.  In October 2018, Trudeau condemned the killing of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, promised “consequences”; 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. Trudeau with Emmanuel Macron, Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, and other leaders at the 45th G7 summit in Biarritz, France

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. 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”.

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.

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.

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

Since Trudeau was elected as Prime Minister, over 25,000 Syrian refugees have settled in Canada. UN Security Council bidMain article: 2020 United Nations Security Council election

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.  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.  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.  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. 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.”

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);  a structural decline in Canadian foreign policy that predated and continued into Trudeau’s premiership, including Trudeau’s government requiring considerable time and resources to deal with Donald Trump’s administration 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;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”  and the ultra-competitiveness of Canada being clustered with European countries, which tend to vote as a bloc, 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.”

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.”

2019 federal election

Main article: 2019 Canadian 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).  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. The Citytv/Maclean’s debate was held on September 12, with an empty podium left on stage for Trudeau.  The Munk Debate on foreign policy was originally scheduled on October 1,  although its organizers cancelled the event as a result of Trudeau’s decision to not attend.

In September 2019, controversial pictures and video were published showing Trudeau in brownface and blackface. 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. 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.”  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”. 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. A third instance, a video, of Trudeau in racist dress was also published. After this video was published, Trudeau admitted he could not remember how often he had worn blackface makeup.

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. Additionally, minority community groups, racialized commentators and some of Trudeau’s opponents came to his defence. Others were more critical, including members of his own party.

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

2019 election results

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.  Nevertheless, the Liberals won enough seats to allow Trudeau to form a minority government  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. 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.  In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Liberal party won 14 per cent and 10 per cent of the popular vote, respectively.  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.

COVID-19 pandemic

Further information: COVID-19 pandemic in CanadaTrudeau 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. 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

See also: WE Charity controversy

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

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. On July 16, 2020, the ethics commissioner also announced the investigation was being expanded to include Finance Minister Bill Morneau.[352]

Security incidents

Since being elected as a member of Parliament and later as prime minister, Trudeau has been the target of increasingly hostile and even violent rhetoric, primarily on social media. Authorities have responded to a number of security incidents and made arrests of several individuals who have made credible threats to his life. According to journalist Brian Busby, “the first call to kill Justin Trudeau came on October 23, four days after the 2015 election.” In January 2016, a 57-year-old Ontario man was charged for allegedly threatening to kill Trudeau, his family and female MPs while aboard a VIA Rail train headed to Toronto.  In August 2016, a 41-year-old man from Saskatchewan was charged with uttering threats to Trudeau on Facebook, and in May 2017, another Saskatchewan man, aged 34, faced charges in connection to a separate incident of threatening Trudeau’s life.  In January 2018, a 52-year-old man from Medicine Hat, Alberta pleaded guilty to making threats against Trudeau and other public officials,  while another man from Alberta faced charges that same month for threatening to kill Trudeau and then-Alberta premier Rachel Notley.  In February of that year charges of uttering threats were laid for a 41-year-old man from Edmonton, Alberta,  while in June, a 60-year-old man from Leamington, Ontario faced charges for contacting Trudeau’s office by phone and threatening “to use an AK-47 on the prime minister” before referencing the 2014 shootings on Parliament Hill. Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau was also the target of threats in May 2017 by a woman from Lethbridge, Alberta, who was placed under a restraining order, barred from attending political events, and prohibited from coming within a 100-metre radius of Grégoire Trudeau.

On February 20 and 21, 2019, a controversial event was held on Parliament Hill known as the “United We Roll” truck convoy, at which several members of the far-right yellow vests movement shouted slogans and carried signs calling for Trudeau to be hanged for “treason”. Prominent political officials were criticized by anti-racism activists and fellow members of Parliament  for attending the event, which was seen as lending the group legitimacy in the eyes of the government. On the second day of the two-day rally, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, in his testimony regarding the SNC-Lavalin affair, raised concern over the increasing calls to violence against public officials and the prime minister in particular, telling the House of Commons Justice Committee that “I worry about the rising tide of incitements to violence, when people use terms like ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ in open discourse. Those are the words that lead to assassination. I’m worried that someone is going to be shot in this country this year during the political campaign.”  Later that month, a 52-year-old man from Nipawin, Saskatchewan was charged with threatening to shoot Trudeau and blow up the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.  In May 2019, a man with connections to the yellow vests movement was arrested for making threats against Trudeau at a fundraising event in Mississauga, Ontario. Protesters there accused Trudeau of advancing “global communism” and again condemned him as a “traitor.

In October 2019, during the federal election campaign, a rally in Mississauga, Ontario was delayed for 45 minutes while police fitted Trudeau with a bulletproof vest after becoming aware of an unspecified potential threat.  In December 2019, two men from Quebec with links to a white nationalist group known as the Storm Alliance were arrested for alleged threats to the prime minister and to Muslim Canadians.  It was not immediately clear as to whether the arrests of the two men were in connection with the security threat during the campaign. In July 2020, one of the men faced additional charges of intimidating a justice system participant and inciting genocide, after the RCMP revealed that he had made more than 100 social media posts under various pseudonyms containing hate, threats, or incitement to violence. In a statement, RCMP Corporal Charles Poirier confirmed that the justice system participant the man was accused of intimidating was Prime Minister Trudeau.

On July 2, 2020, one day after another far-right protest took place on Canada Day on the grounds of Parliament Hill,a Canadian Army Reservist from Manitoba rammed through the gates of Rideau Hall with his pick-up truck, and lurked on the grounds of the property where Trudeau and Governor-General Julie Payette have their respective residences. Neither Trudeau, his family, nor Payette were at home or on the grounds at the time. After a nearly two-hour deescalation process, the man was taken into custody by RCMP officers working security for the estate. Though RCMP sources initially claimed that the man just wanted to “chat” with Trudeau,  he eventually was served with 22 criminal charges, 21 of them firearms-related and one charge of uttering threats to the prime minister.  He had four weapons on his person during the standoff, including one that had been banned by an order-in-council following the May 2020 massacre in Nova Scotia.  Though initial media reports downplayed the severity of the attack, further details revealed that he had carried a note with him, and that his social media history indicated possible radicalization by far-right Internet outlets and conspiracy theories,  including the QAnon phenomenon.  In addition to a litany of personal struggles, the note contained accusations that Trudeau was “turning [Canada] into a communist dictatorship” and avoiding accountability by shuttering Parliament during the COVID-19 pandemic and issuing lockdown orders, which were in the interest of public health.

Reactions to the story online ranged from criticism of the media for its lack of coverage of what appeared to be an assassination attempt against the Canadian prime minister,  to criticism of opposition party leaders for their initial lack of condemnation of the attack or words of support for the prime minister, his family, and the Governor-General,  to criticism of the RCMP for a perceived double standard in confrontation tactics towards a white person versus a person of visible minority status,  to calls to have a GoFundMe campaign for the intruder’s family shut down for “funding terrorism.”  Six days passed before any opposition leaders issued statements denouncing the attack or expressing gratitude that the prime minister, his family and the Governor-General were unharmed. Asked to comment on the incident at a press conference a day after the attack, Trudeau said only that he wished to “thank the extraordinary members of the police services and the RCMP who did their job.”

Personal life

Family

Main article: Trudeau familyTrudeau 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. 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. They have three children: a boy born in 2007, a girl born in 2009, and a bove 2014.

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.  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.

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.  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.

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. By March 28, she had recovered.

Religion

Trudeau’s father was a devout Roman Catholic  and his mother converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism just prior to their wedding. 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.  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.’  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.  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.

Honours

QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal ribbon.png

Honorary degrees

Electoral record

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

Published works

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

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