It’s been quite the year for Justin Trudeau. He volleyed his position in Parliament from third-party leader to prime minister and gained the affection of international media.
‘Naive’ Bill C-51 stance
When Trudeau and his Liberals helped to pass the then-Conservative government’s controversial anti-terror legislation back in May, his party faced a barrage of criticism.
The Liberals pledged they would repeal parts of Bill C-51, which included a proposal to expand the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s powers, if the party was elected to government.
Some pundits predicted the political gambit would help the NDP pick up support, thanks to the Liberals’ apparent chagrin. But with support behind Bill C-51 slipping at the start of summer, Trudeau explained the move was intended to take the wind out of possible Tory attacks claiming the Liberals are soft on terrorism.
“I do not want this government making political hay out of an issue … or trying to, out of an issue as important as security for Canadians,” Trudeau said at a March talk at the University of British Columbia.
During his summer tour of Canada, Trudeau was occasionally confronted by Bill C-51 protesters. At one Edmonton rally, people chanted “Kill the Bill” and “Liberal, Tory, same old story.”
Watch footage from the protest here:
But the negative association didn’t stick. At the first leaders’ debate in August, the Liberal leader even confessed his Bill C-51 stance was “perhaps naive.”
Despite then-prime minister Stephen Harper accusing Trudeau of being a political flip-flopper (“both for and against the legislation at the same time”), the Liberal leader still came out on top on election day, leading his party to form a majority government.
‘World’s most meaningless’ soundbite
Just under a month after Trudeau delivered his acceptance speech on election night declaring a new era of “sunny ways,” he was burned by an American reporter for uttering “the world’s most meaningless quote.”
“I’m not even sure what he’s trying to say here.”
The soundbite, highlighted by the New Republic’s Rebecca Leber, was taken from a November meeting of provincial and territorial leaders on the eve of the United Nations’ climate talks in Paris.
“It is clear that the way forward for Canada will be in a solution that resembles Canada; that is shared values and shared desires for outcomes and different approaches to achieve those outcomes right across this great country,” Trudeau said.
Leber called Trudeau’s words a tautology. “I’m not even sure what he’s trying to say here,” she said.
The New Republic’s readership is mostly American and the quote went on to be published in all major Canadian outlets unabated.
When the Liberals announced a two-month extension to its pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, it was heralded as a broken election promise by some — and a thoughtful choice by others.
“And it might be the smartest decision his fledgling government makes in the next four years,” noted CBC News’ national affairs editor Chris Hall.
Trudeau sat down with the public broadcaster to explain his rationale, echoing sentiments made by Immigration Minister John McCallum that the government is taking a “little longer to do it right.”
“We want these families arriving to be welcomed, not feared, because that's the way to get the right start in terms of having them become valuable parts of our community and create success,” Trudeau said.
He repeated the sentiments in his Christmas address, stressing to viewers the importance of being open ambassadors to the country's newest Canadians.
Watch the address here:
“I encourage all Canadians to show them a warm holiday welcome in keeping with our values of compassion, kindness, and generosity,” he said.
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