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Justin Trudeau

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I was a high-school teacher. I am a strong advocate for women's rights, and I'm not a woman.
—Justin Trudeau describing himself in a nutshell[1]

Justin "Joe" Pierre James "Comeback Kid" Trudeau (born 1971) is the 23rd and incumbent Prime Minister of Canada, and current leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada. He is widely accepted as a dreamboat (for a politician anyway), because he's the hottest politician ever,[2][3][4][5][6] and is a (self-proclaimed) feminist,[7] advocate of legalizing marijuana,[8] LGBTQ-friendly,[9] pro-choice,[10] pro-immigrant,[11] climate science defending[12][13] and as such is antithetical to both his predecessor, Stephen Harper, and his American counterpart, Donald Trump. He is the son of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada and "reputed" "ladies man".[14] Like father, like son,[15] we guess.[16] As a result, Trudeau enjoys a sort of "Canadian royalty" status amongst the media. As a matter of fact, he is a millionaire, who inherited CAN$1.2 million from his father, who, in turns, got his fortune from his father.[17]

Trudeau being Trudeau[edit]

Linguistic Oopsie[edit]

Trudeau is bilingual (a fact he really wants you to remember), and as a politician in bilingual Canada this has helped him immensely, especially when compared to the The Conservative Party of Canada's new leadership hopeful's attempts at grasping the language.[18][19] Alas, he could not save himself from probably the most awkward bilingual backfire ever, when he swore allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II, her "hairs" and successors.[20]


Despite his rhetoric on environmental protection, Trudeau supports the further opening up of the Alberta tar sands, some of the world's greatest current climate disasters, thus like his counterpart undermining effective climate change policies, just in a different and, to quote The Guardian, "hypocritical" way. His government spent billions to acquire tar sands pipelines, which effectively makes Trudeau and all future prime ministers oil executives.[21] [22] [23] On the subject of hypocrisy, although Trudeau promised to combat tax avoidance when he was running for Prime Minister, an aide and donor to his campaign, Stephen Bronfman, is linked to an offshore tax evading scheme unearthed by the leak of the "Paradise Papers" in 2017. Notably, Bronfman considers the Prime Minister to be "very, very saleable."[24] Following the leak of the "Panama Papers" in 2015, which implicated numerous Canadians, the Prime Minister was quick to deny any wrongdoing.[17]


Like Trump,[25] he has consented to the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia,[26] a country with a notorious human rights record including involvement in the Yemen Civil War. It should be noted, however that his American counterpart initiated the sale whereas in Trudeau's case, it was his predecessor who started it. His plan for public infrastructure is similar to Trump's: sell off public assets, pay private investors to finance construction, hire private firms to build, and let the taxpayer pay the tab. This includes setting up a private infrastructure bank under Cabinet control, immediately undercutting any independence for the infrastructure bank. [27]

Mini... hang on[edit]

But wait, there's more! He's also a giant media whore... just like his counterpart![28] Which counterpart? That would be Barack Obama (or Tony Blair for that matter), who was also very image-conscious and sensitive to perception changes by the press. Justin's also following his father's footsteps in this, as Pierre was the original "Trudeaumania."

India trip[edit]

Trudeau became an international embarrassment for his utterly terrible trip to India.[29] Voters became much less likely to say he represents Canada positively on the world stage, when in the previous year, over 50% approved of his image on the world stage.[30] However, Canada's own biased and partisan media aren't much better either, and their own coverage of the India trip leaves much to be desired.[31]

Regime gaffe-machine[edit]

In 2016, after Fidel Castro's death, he described Castro in a favourable light, believing he had "tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people", and that he "made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation" without mentioning the horrific human rights abuses or intolerance of dissent.[32] Following this praise, wingnuts at /r/The_Donald decided to concoct a conspiracy theory that Trudeau was literally the son of Castro (spread by the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos), based on the fact that Castro and his mother met at one time in 1971.[33] In a similar case of oddity, Trudeau junior praised, in his own words, the Communist "dictatorship" of China, of all places.[34]

Organisation and Accountability[edit]

Trudeau has always made clear his support for free trade agreements in general and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in particular, even if a key player, the United States, has decided to withdraw from it. Perhaps ironically, Trudeau missed the rounds of negotiations taking place in Vietnam, where he was visiting for the 2017 APEC summit. He blamed his absence on a "schedule mix-up".[35] Either he's lying and thinks he can bargain for a better position, or it really was a schedule mix-up, and if so, this brings into question how organized he and his government are overall. He's also missed a worrying amount of question periods, and his performance in such has been... questionable.[36] In one particular showing, Trudeau set what is perhaps a record in the Commonwealth world by managing to avoid a question over a dozen times and then some more.[37]

Keeping FPTP[edit]

In February 2017 he abandoned his campaign promise that the 2015 election would be the last election using the broken first-past-the-post, a promise which is still live on the Liberal party's website.[38] He had been speaking vaguely about "ranked ballots" since before the election, but the all-party committee on electoral reform found that such a system would produce more disproportionate results than even the existing system and instead recommended a referendum on proportional representation. Trudeau thought long and hard about this and came to the decision that proportional representation would hurt the Liberal party was not in the interest of Canadians and that there was no consensus (even though the committee's recommendation was unanimous). In the process of sabotaging reform, the self-proclaimed feminist had his Minister for Democratic Institutions (who holds a science degree) stand up in front of the house and act like math is hard.[39]


His absolute worst issue. Trudeau spends goverment money way, way too much. After over five years, he has managed to get Canada to an outrageous $381,000,000,000 deficit.[40] He seems to be unable to remain transparent about how he is using it, and has managed to appoint two of the worst finance ministers in recent Canadian history, the scumbag Bill "MoneyBags" Morneau, and the newest self-righteous asshole Chrystia Freeland. His cronyism has also been personified through scandals, notably the WE Charity controversyWikipedia (page pending). We really do not want austerity to return to Canada, so if Trudeau could stop spending so ludicriously, that would be nice.

Being frankly awesome[edit]

Despite his long list of failings, broken promises, utter embarrassments, and general unwillingness to truly change the status quo, Justin Trudeau has done some truly incredible things since becoming Prime Minister. His long honeymoon period, where he was practically scandal-free (because he hadn't done anything), hugely popular, and a charismatic media darling, allowed him to completely change the landscape of Canadian politics in ways that only became clear years after the fact. By the time of 2020, when coronavirus became a pandemic, Trudeau has provided a blueprint on how to properly provide for your people to keep them from suffering under systemic contradictions and failings. Comparing him to Harper would just be so utterly unfair. Speaking of...


Trudeau overturned many of Harper's most odious policies, like removing the gag rule on scientists, putting actual experts (mostly) in his Cabinet, backing away from thinly-veiled majoritarian democracy, and restoring the census after Harper randomly removed it. Think of any Harper policy and Trudeau most likely removed or watered it down. When next to his American counterpart, Trudeau's social liberalism (pro-gay rights, pro-women's rights, pro-minority rights) feel like a breath of fresh air, or so it seems from the outside.

This includes his resolutely pro-choice beliefs; as soon as he took leadership, he forced the party to support pro-choice policies and candidates regardless of their religious beliefs, which angered many of the Christian old-timers. Republicans must be fuming down south.[41][42][43]

Senate Reform[edit]

The Senate, long-since mired in partisanship, was pretty substantially reformed under Trudeau. In one of his first moves as Liberal leader, he immediately expelled all Liberals from the Senate by de-registering them as party members; effectively abolishing the Liberal Party caucus in the Senate. This stunned just about everyone, especially "key party operators and fundraisers" in the Senate who had been removed from the party's caucus and forced outside its inner circles with this move. The CBC called this "a foundation-shaking decision in a business where power is derived from membership in a political club and the ability to access its best back rooms." [44] He set up a non-partisan advisory board designed to pick candidates for the Senate based on merit rather than partisan chops, [45] [46] and all of his Senate appointees have been from independents [47] albeit they've mostly toed the Liberal Party line. [48] By June 2018, Trudeau's nonpartisans numbered at 43, the Conservatives at 32, the (former) Liberals at 11, non-affiliated at 6, and 11 vacancies.[49] Since Senators are organized by their party, these independents had barely any organizational support, so they formed the Independent Senators Group, the largest caucus in the Senate as of 2017. The ISG promotes nonpartisanship and accountability for the Senate.[50] By 2020, Trudeau's Senate appointments numbered a staggering 51 out of 95, Stephen Harper had 32 senators, Jean Chretien had 8, and Paul Martin had 4, with 14 mandatory retirements before the end of 2023, the next scheduled general election. Should Trudeau fill the ten current vacancies and the 13 soon to be vacancies before December 2023 (October 2023 is the latest possible date for the general election), he would have appointed 74 out of 105 senators. [51]

Stopping the far-right[edit]

While it may not seem much, Trudeau has changed Canadian politics in a big way. Harper's outright cruelty, massive ego, imperious mindset, and GOP-style far-right leanings drove his government towards the Bush administration's brand of extremism and criminality, and for nearly a decade, Canadian politics under Harper were eerily closer to that of the Americans (or even the British under David Cameron), up to and including allegations of prisoner abuse and torture during the Afghanistan War. This is the same Canada that had (albeit small) pro-Trump rallies in favor of Trump's coup attempt on the day of the US Capitol riot. It is not an exaggeration to say Canadian right wingers are a horde of hungry dragons waiting for something to wake them up and spark a reign of fire. Had Harper won again, even with just a minority government, Canadians would be talking about Kevin O'Leary, Maxime Bernier, or Doug Ford potentially becoming Prime Minister after Harper inevitably lost control of his right flank. Alberta dethroned its NDP government under Rachel Notley in favor of far-right asshole Jason Kenney, who himself talks and acts like a Republican governor. Ontario went under control of Trump-like premier Doug Ford, whose own far-right asshole policies have attacked the core of the province's social democracy and welfare programs. It is far more likely than not that Canadian right wingers will find their own version of Trump to latch onto, with a scary chance of him becoming prime minister. But because Harper never truly had a successor in mind, having always changed his deputies at will, the party was left without any true heir apparent to carry Harper's torch. The NDP, similarly, was still reeling from Jack Layton's untimely death by cancer, and his replacement, Thomas Mulcair, was never as popular, personable, or progressive. Trudeau, as the son of a former prime minister, already had a far better chance at taking his party by storm, which he did, and his brand of liberalism was immediately imposed upon the party.

It goes beyond just reversing Harper's policies. Trudeau almost singlehandedly ushered in the rise of a faction of relatively left-friendly pragmatists who have taken over his party. The core people on his 2013 leadership campaign team were all in their 30s and 40s; they were never fans of the old party establishment[52] and they soon built an apparatus that allowed Trudeau to win. Trudeau gleefully crushed the pro-lifers in the Liberal Party, forced old-school operatives out of power when he de-registered the Senate Liberal Caucus, led his party to one of its greatest comeback wins in history (in terms of regaining seats lost in the previous election), and immediately reformed the Senate in ways nobody really expected. The NDP dumped centrist Thomas Mulcair for progressive Jagmeet Singh, a strong center-left voice who is nonetheless willing to work with the centrist Liberals, who are technocratic and managerial more than ideologically right wing the way American Democrats tend to be. It paid dividends: Trudeau has frequently followed Singh's lead when it concerns the government's response to Covid-19. A de facto power sharing agreement between the Liberals and NDP is a far better alternative to the far right by every measure.

But most of all, he declared the Proud Boys and Three Percenters to be terrorist organizations due to their fascistic love affair with and frequent use of political violence. This completely kneecapped the far right in Canada, as political violence actually has consequences in Canada now, and anyone resembling their brand of far-right lunacy (which veers ever-eerily towards fascism) runs the risk of justifiably being tagged as terrorists. Even before that, Trudeau's high popularity and corresponding social liberalism forced the Conservative Party of Canada to grow a backbone against the far right. They didn't choose horrendous anti-immigrant demagogue Maxime Bernier, Harper cohort Peter Mackay (co-founder of the modern Conservative Party), or TV personality/populist Kevin O'Leary, but the boring Andrew Scheer and bland-but-still-evil Erin O'Toole, solely because they needed something to counter the son of Pierre and they figured it best to pivot to the center-right; that's how much Justin's longstanding early popularity and COVID-era policies changed the conversation in Canada. Conservative leaders must rely on not pissing off the public if they have a chance at becoming opposition leader, let alone prime minister, and it was completely a unintentional byproduct of just how emphatic his defeat of Harper was. While there is still much that can go wrong, Trudeau's decision to work with Singh over COVID was a genuinely good decision that has defanged the power of the right wing, and declaring far-right militias terrorists, an actually ballsy move, has discredited and discombobulated their activities in Canada, essentially completing their collapse in hockey and basketball's homeland.

Marijuana legalization[edit]

Perhaps his signature achievement, because it's the perfect encapsulation of his incrementalism. Marijuana was legalized in the autumn of 2018, nearly three years into his four-year term.[53] His government has also promised to erase the criminal record of anybody arrested for cannabis possession.[54] It is now regulated like cigarettes, with guidelines and "health risks" lists pretty transparently designed to "take the fun out of legal weed." [55] However, credit where it's due, they legalized weed, something still thought of as verboten to the American government.

Criminal justice reform[edit]

Trudeau's government, seeking to "ease sentencing laws for minor crimes such as drug possession," has introduced bills aimed at repealing mandatory minimums, allow for conditional sentencing, and push police to consider "non-criminal remedies for low-risk and first-time offenders." These policies would especially benefit black and indigenous Canadians who are disproportionately imprisoned by the Canadian justice system. [56]

Smart Taxing[edit]

By October 2018, Trudeau laid out a carbon tax plan that would garner around 2 billion dollars in at least the first year, the majority of which will be given to 70% of all Canadian citizens. It's a net progressive tax that will expand the wallets of many tens of millions of people in the country. It wouldn't affect much in terms of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, but it's a very apt political move since the rebates will be given to voters mere months before the 2019 elections. [57]

Gun control[edit]

In May, 2020, Trudeau announced a ban on use, sale and importation of more than 1,500 firearms, in a bid to stem the tide of gun violence. To that end, Trudeau has announced he will implement a gun buyback program for banned firearms, meaning if you sell your gun, you will get money from the government, much like in Australia. Owners of the recently-banned guns who choose not to sell them back to the government will have to "get a prohibited gun license" and "register with the government indicating how many prohibited guns they have and where they are located." While they will be allowed to keep the firearms, they will not be able to "use, sell, trade, transport, or bequeath them." Trudeau said the government is also introducing "red flag laws" to allow citizens to "petition the court to immediately confiscate firearms" from a person suspected of "intimate partner violence" or "advocating for violence towards a religious minority group" as well as people who might be suicidal.[58] [59] Now, mayors of some of Canada's largest cities are seriously considering banning handguns, the most commonly used firearm, after Trudeau's government made it clear they would do the same. Trudeau announced he seeks to "amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to support municipalities that ban handguns," through by-laws that "restrict storage and transportation of the weapons inside cities." One of the changes would make it easier for authorities to cancel gun licenses too. Relatives and friends would be able to request that weapons be seized by officials if they believe the gun owner could be violent. [60]

Coronavirus response[edit]

This is unironically his greatest achievement and genuinely one of the best things he has ever done, even if he had to be pushed towards it by leftists and progressives. His response to the COVID-19 pandemic was resolutely more competent than that of Donald Trump, including giving out a basic income of 2000 dollars per month for workers and enforcing lockdown measures far better than his right wing counterpart. The second wave response, while worse, is still far more apt than President Trump's entire response and better than even President Biden, who has dithered on whether to give stimulus checks and further financial aid packages to citizens. On March 2020, practically immediately, the Liberal government announced a plan to ramp up production of medical equipment, switching assembly lines to produce ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear. To address shortages and supply-chain disruption, Canada passed emergency legislation that waived-patent protection, giving the government, and companies or organizations that it selects, the right to produce patented products without permission from the patent holder.[61]

Prime Minister Trudeau, early on in the pandemic, ordered his government to provide funds for provinces and territories to adapt quickly, as well as funds for coronavirus research, travel restrictions, screening of international flights, self-isolation orders under the Quarantine Act, an industrial strategy, and a public health awareness campaign. In conjunction with progressive leader Jagmeet Singh's center-left New Democratic Party, Trudeau's Liberal government waived student loan payments, increased the Canada Child Benefit, doubled the annual Goods and Services Tax payment, and introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as part of a first package in March 2020. In April 2020, Trudeau introduced the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which gives money to business and consequently stops mass layoffs, the Canada Emergency Business Account, which gives emergency interest-free loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who were unable to find work due to COVID-19, were allowed to apply for the Emergency Student Benefit, and these students received $1,250 for a 4-week period for a maximum of 16 weeks, between May 10 and August 29, 2020. Applicants could also get an extra $750 (total benefit amount of $2,000) for each 4-week period, if they had a disability or dependents. [62] Vaccinations began nation-wide December 14, 2020. Alarmed by hospital capacity issues, fatalities and new cases, heavy restrictions (such as lockdowns and curfews) were put in place in affected areas (primarily Ontario, Quebec and Alberta) and across the country, which has resulted in active cases beginning to steadily decline.

Overall assessment[edit]

He's basically Canada's Obama; young, charming, and charismatic. But as is standard with Canadian liberals, he mostly prefers to tweak the system rather than transform it fundamentally (with a handful of exceptions, viz. his Senate approach). Much like Blair or Macron, he's a centrist who doesn't like being challenged for his flip-flops and has a thinly-veiled elitism towards voters who aren't that into him.[63] He even booted hecklers from one of his town halls when they criticized his less than stellar record.[64]

Withdrawing from election reform really soured him to many on the left once he realized proportional representation would cut into his supermajority; he wanted preferential voting (à la Single Transferable Vote or the more watered-down Instant Runoff Voting), which would maintain his power. This decision severely hurt his standing from voters who felt he was being two-faced on election reform. Without this fundamental change, and without much other fundamental changes, you can expect the Conservatives to, eventually, gain power back from the Liberals, and we'd be back here yet again, with small changes to big problems. Either Trudeau is forced to grow a spine, or the country will elect Conservative leader Erin O'Toole as Prime Minister by 2023. A downgrade in Liberal standing from majority to minority government in the 2019 federal election, with the NDP now holding the balance of power, foreshadowed this.

From his election in October 2015 until fall 2017, Trudeau was quite popular, with a positive approval rating both as prime minister and as a person, a longer than expected honeymoon period. People found him likable, willing to listen, and open to their concerns, or at least they thought as much. But things changed. December 2017 was the first time his approval rating fell into the negatives as his scandals, failed promises, missteps, continued kowtowing to Americans, inexcusable gaffes, and severe conflict of interests kept piling up. Fears grew that Trudeau's pro-status quo centrism would not weather the storm against rising far-right sentiment in his country, as countries the world over saw authoritarianism take hold in several democracies, including the United States whose very own American brand of fascism had inspired several Canadian supporters.

Voters responded in kind. Andrew Scheer's Conservatives won the 2019 election's popular vote overall, but due to Ontarians' hatred for Premier Doug Ford, the Liberals won every riding in Toronto and its surrounding areas. This was enough for Trudeau to maintain a minority government, a sign that voters disapproved of his tenure even as they preferred not to hand power back to Harper's party. Scheer had so much going right for him: all Trudeau's worst scandals happened before coronavirus, Conservatives kept winning control over several provinces, Trudeau kept bending over backwards to keep Jason Kenney's Alberta happy, they won the damn popular vote come election day, yet Scheer still failed to dislodge the Liberals due to his own messaging simply being "I hate Justin." If Scheer had better or at least different messaging beyond "I'm not him," voters might have already thrown Trudeau out by 2019. People really were that dissatisfied with him and it took Doug Ford's unpopularity to save his ass. When Trudeau had full control over parliament, his party had a distinct unwillingness to do anything, and with the NDP, the official opposition at the time, headed by Mulcair, a centrist similar to Trudeau, there was no real national push for leftist or progressive policies and no real sense that there should be transformational change in the country.

This all changed in 2020, when coronavirus hit the world hard. Trudeau, with backing from Singh's NDP, responded far more competently, compassionately, and efficiently than the Americans ever did, and his approval ratings finally came back in April 2020 for the first time in years.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Justin Trudeau says he won't 'play the politics of fear' by John Ivison (June 18, 2015) National Post.
  2. Is Justin Trudeau the sexiest politician in the world? Mirror
  3. 16 Reasons The World Is Swooning Over Justin Trudeau, Canada's Next Prime Minister. HuffPost
  4. The world meets Justin Trudeau and likes what it sees. CBC
  5. Justin Trudeau is definitely not the most bae Canadian leader. Vice
  6. Justin Trudeau and nine other ‘hot politicians’. The Irish Times
  7. Justin Trudeau: I'll keep saying I'm a Feminist until there's no reaction. HuffPost
  8. Justin Trudeau may have made the best case for legal pot ever. The Washington Post
  9. Justin Trudeau makes history at Pride. CNN
  10. Justin Trudeau's abortion policy keeps people talking. CBC
  11. Justin Trudeau responds to Donald Trump’s immigration ban by saying refugees are welcome in Canada. The Independent
  12. Canada’s Trudeau Steps Up on Climate Change. The New York Times.
  13. Justin Trudeau on climate change, the economy and Canada's future – video. The Guardian
  14. Pierre Trudeau and his (many) women. The Globe and Mail
  15. Pictures of 'swooning' Ivanka Trump and Justin Trudeau go viral. The Guardian
  16. What’s with the look, duchess? Social media loves Kate’s seemingly flirty introduction to our PM. Toronto Sun
  17. 17.0 17.1 Trudeau Says He Does Not Have Money in Offshore Accounts. The Globe and Mail. April 7, 2016.
  20. Trudeau Takes Oath of Office. The Canadian Press. November 5, 2015.
  24. Paradise Papers: Tax revelations hit Canada PM Justin Trudeau's fundraiser. BBC News. November 5, 2017.
  32. His statement
  33. Alex Kasprak (30 November 2016). "Is It Tru, Deau?". Snopes.
  34. Joe Biden would kill to gaffe this hard.
  35. TPP trade deal talks move forward despite Canada wobble. BBC News. November 11, 2017.
  36. Trudeau Skipped More Question Periods Than He Attended In First Year As PM. HuffPost
  37. In all it's glory...
  40. Liberals to post $381B deficit as debt levels as percentage of economy surge higher. National Post
  49. By 2020, the ISG had 47 members, Conservatives had 21, the technocratic/centrist Canadian Senators Group (CSG) had 13 members (including two ex-Tories), the Progressive Senate Group (PSG, formed from the former Senate Liberal Caucus) had 9 members, non-affiliated had 5, and the remaining 10 were vacant.
  51. Three of Martin's final four appointees will retire, as well as three of Chretien's final eight and only two of Trudeau's picks. Harper, meanwhile, will have five of his remaining 32 senators retire.
  52. Prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin were the reason the Liberal Party became more right-wing over time, and their centrist successors in Stéphane Dion, Michael Ignatieff, and Bob Rae followed much of the same playbook.
  56. "Trudeau Drug-Sentence Reform Aims to Tackle Racial Inequities," Kait Bolongaro, Bloomberg News
  57. "Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is betting his reelection on a carbon tax," David Roberts, Vox.
  58. "Liberals introduce buy-back program for banned firearms but price tag unclear," Catharine Tunney, CBC
  59. "Justin Trudeau Announces Plan to Buy Back ‘Assault-Style Weapons’ From Gun Owners," Manisha Krishnan, Vice
  60. "Canada’s Largest Cities Could Ban Handguns After Trudeau Move," Danielle Bochove and Kait Bolongaro, Bloomberg
  61. "Exclusive: Canada gets Biomerieux formula for free to produce virus testing chemicals," Allison Martell, Reuters.
  62. Here it is right here, American students may now weep.