Justin Trudeau

The Right Honourable
Justin Trudeau

Trudeau in June 2016
23rd Prime Minister of Canada
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General David Johnston
Preceded by Stephen Harper
Minister of Intergovernmental
Affairs and Youth
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Preceded by Denis Lebel
Leader of the Liberal Party
Assumed office
April 14, 2013
Preceded by Bob Rae
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Papineau
Assumed office
October 14, 2008
Preceded by Vivian Barbot
Personal details
Born Justin Pierre James Trudeau
(1971-12-25) December 25, 1971
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Sophie Grégoire (m. 2005)
Relations Alexandre Trudeau (brother)
Michel Trudeau (brother)
James Sinclair (grandfather)
Charles-Émile Trudeau (grandfather)
Children 3
Parents Pierre Trudeau (father)
Margaret Sinclair (mother)
Residence Rideau Cottage
(1 Sussex Drive)
Alma mater
Website Official website
Personal website

Justin Pierre James Trudeau PC MP (born December 25, 1971) is a Canadian politician who is 23rd Prime Minister of Canada and leader of its Liberal Party.[1][2] The 2nd-youngest Prime Minister after Joe Clark, he is also, as the eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the first child of a previous Prime Minister to hold the post.[3][4]

Born in Ottawa, Trudeau attended Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf and graduated from McGill University in 1994 and the University of British Columbia in 1998. He gained a high public profile in October 2000, when he delivered a eulogy at his father's state funeral.[5] After graduating, he worked as a teacher in Vancouver, British Columbia. He completed one year of an engineering program at Montreal's l'École Polytechnique before deciding to quit the program in 2003. In 2005 he began a master's degree in environmental geography at Montreal's McGill University and quit this program after one year. He used his public profile to advocate for various causes and acted in the 2007 TV miniseries The Great War.[6]

Eight years after his father's death, Trudeau became involved in politics. 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 critic for secondary education and youth and amateur sport. Trudeau won the leadership of the Liberal Party in April 2013 and went on to lead his party to victory in the 2015 federal election, moving the 3rd-placed Liberals from 36 seats to 184 seats, the largest-ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian election.

Early life

Ancestry and birth

On July 23, 1971, the Prime Minister's office announced that Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's wife, the former Margaret Sinclair,[7] was expecting and due in December[8] and eventually informal betting pools for the delivery date began on Parliament Hill.[9] On Christmas Day, Justin Trudeau was born at 9:27 pm EST at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.[10] Like all Canadian hospitals at that time, Ottawa Civic Hospital barred husbands from the delivery room. The hospital's board of directors promptly ended the restriction following Margaret Trudeau's protests and many other hospitals in the city and then throughout Canada followed suit.[11]

Trudeau 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.[12][13]

Portrait of Ono Niha princesses. Through Trudeau's Ono Niha princess 6th-great grandmother and other remote ethnic Malaccan ancestors, Trudeau is the first Canadian Prime Minister to have verified non-European roots.

Trudeau is predominantly of Scottish and French Canadian descent. His grandfathers were businessman Charles-Émile Trudeau[14] and Scottish-born James Sinclair,[15] who served as minister of fisheries in the cabinet of prime minister Louis St. Laurent.[16] 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.[17] Through the Bernard family, kinsmen of the Earls of Bandon,[18][19] Trudeau is the 5th-great grandson of Major-General William Farquhar, a leader in the founding of modern Singapore; he also has 1/256th ethnic Malaccan[20][21] and Ono Niha[22][23][24] ancestry, making him the first Canadian prime minister to have verified non-European ancestry.[25]

Trudeau was christened with his father's niece Anne Rouleau-Danis as godmother and his mother's brother-in-law Thomas Walker as godfather[26] at Ottawa's Notre Dame Basilica on the afternoon of January 16, 1972, which marked his first public appearance.[27] 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".[28] 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.[29][30] 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."[31][32]

Justin Trudeau's father Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada, in 1983


His parents publicly announced their separation on May 27, 1977,[33][34] when Trudeau was five years old, with his father having custody. There had been repeated rumours of a reconciliation in the public for many years afterwards,[35] but his mother's attorney Michael Levine[36] filed in Toronto to the Supreme Court of Ontario for a no-fault divorce on November 16, 1983[37] and finalized on April 2, 1984,[38] with his father publicly announcing his intention to retire as prime minister on February 29 of that year.[39] 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."[40] 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."[41] Trudeau has three half-siblings, Kyle and Alicia, from his mother's remarriage to Fried Kemper,[42] and Sarah, from his father's relationship with Deborah Coyne.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45] His mother purchased and moved into a new home nearby at 95 Queen Victoria Avenue in Ottawa's New Edinburgh in September 1979.[46][47] 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.[48]

His father had intended Trudeau to begin his formal education at a French Lycée, but Trudeau's mother convinced his father on the importance of sending their sons to a public school.[49] In the end, Trudeau was enrolled in 1976 in the French immersion program at Rockcliffe Park Public School, the same school his mother has attended for 2 years when her family relocated to Rockcliffe Park while her father served as a federal Cabinet minister.[50] He could have been dropped off by limousine, but his parents elected he take the school bus albeit with an Royal Canadian Mounted Police car following.[51][52][53][54] This was followed by one year at the private Lycée Claudel d'Ottawa.[55][56]

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[57] 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.[58][59] 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."[60] 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.[56][61][62][63][64]

University and early career

Trudeau, then 28, emerged as a prominent figure in October 2000, after delivering a eulogy at his father's state funeral.[65][66][67] The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) received numerous calls to rebroadcast the speech after its initial transmission, and leading Quebec politician Claude Ryan described it as "perhaps [...] the first manifestation of a dynasty."[68] A book issued by the CBC in 2003 included the speech in its list of significant Canadian events from the past fifty years.[69]

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[70] and Butts invited Trudeau to join the McGill Debating Union.[71] They bonded while driving back to Montreal after a debate tournament at Princeton University[70] in which the Princeton team included Ted Cruz, a candidate for the U.S. Republican Party's presidential nomination in 2016.[72] After graduation, he stayed in Vancouver and he found substitute work at several local schools and permanent work as a French and math teacher at the private West Point Grey Academy and was roommates at the Douglas Lodge[73] with fellow West Point Grey Academy faculty member and friend Christopher Ingvaldson.[70][74] From 2002 to 2004, he studied engineering at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, a part of the Université de Montréal.[75] He also started a master's degree in environmental geography at McGill University, before suspending his program to seek public office.[76]

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 Talbot Mercer Papineau, who was killed on October 30, 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele.[77] 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.[78] Ben Mulroney was a guest at Trudeau's wedding.[79]


Trudeau has used his public status to promote various causes. He and his family started the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign for winter sports safety in 2000, two years after his brother Michel Trudeau died in an avalanche during a ski trip.[80] In 2002, Trudeau criticized the British Columbia government's decision to stop its funding for a public avalanche warning system.[81]

(left to right) Trudeau, Darfurian refugee Tragi Mustafa, an unidentified woman, and Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (2006)

Trudeau chaired the Katimavik youth program, a project started by longtime family friend Jacques Hébert, from 2002 to 2006.[82][83]

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.[84][85] 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.[86] In 2006, he hosted the Giller Prize for literature.[87][88]

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."[89][90]

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.[91][92][93]

Political beginnings

Trudeau at the 2006 leadership convention

Trudeau supported the Liberal Party from a young age, offering his support to party leader John Turner in the 1988 federal election.[94] Two years later, he defended Canadian federalism at a student event at the Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, an elite high school which he attended.[95]

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.[96][97]

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.[98][99] Trudeau later wrote a public letter on the subject, describing the idea of Quebec nationhood as "against everything my father ever believed."[100][101]

Trudeau announced his support for leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy shortly before the 2006 convention and introduced Kennedy during the candidates' final speeches.[102] When Kennedy dropped off after the second ballot, Trudeau joined him in supporting the ultimate winner, Stéphane Dion.[103][104]

Rumours circulated in early 2007 that Trudeau would run in a 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.[105][106][107] 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.[108]

Trudeau faced off against Mary Deros, a Montreal city councillor and Basilio Giordano, the publisher of a local Italian-language newspaper for the Liberal nomination. On April 29, 2007, he easily won the party's nomination, picking up 690 votes to 350 for Deros and 220 for Giordano.[109]

In Opposition, 2008–15

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.[110] 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".[60]

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.[111] 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.[112]

In September 2010, he was reassigned as critic for youth, citizenship, and immigration.[113] He was critical of the Harper government's legislation targeting human smuggling, which he argued would penalize the victims of smuggling.[114]

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.[115]

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."[116][117] 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.[118] After his re-election, he traveled the country hosting fundraisers for charities and the Liberal Party.[119][120][121][122]

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.[123][124] 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.[123][125]

Liberal Party leadership

Earlier speculation

2008 Trudeau promotional photo by Jean-Marc Carisse

After Dion's resignation as Liberal leader in 2008, Trudeau's name was mentioned as a potential candidate to succeed him, with polls showing him as a favourite among Canadians for the position.[126][127]

However, he did not enter the race and Ignatieff was later acclaimed as leader in December 2008.[128] 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.[129]

Following the election, Trudeau said he was undecided about seeking the leadership;[130] months later on October 12 at Wilfrid Laurier University, he announced he would not seek the post because he had a young family.[131] 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.[132]

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.[133] 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.[134][135]

2013 leadership election

On September 26, 2012, multiple media outlets started reporting that Trudeau would launch his leadership bid the following week.[136][137] While Trudeau was seen as a frontrunner for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he was criticized for his perceived lack of substance.[138][139] 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.[140][141] 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.[142][143][144]

On October 2, 2012, Trudeau held a rally in Montreal to launch his bid for the leadership of the Liberal Party.[145] 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.[146] His brother Alexandre also took a break from his documentary work to be a senior advisor on Trudeau's campaign.[147]

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.[148] The following day, Trudeau apologized, saying he was wrong to use "Alberta" as "shorthand" in referring to Stephen Harper's government.[149] 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.[150]

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.[151] 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.[152] 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.[153]

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.[154][155]

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% of 30,800 votes.[156] Joyce Murray finished in second place with 10.2% points, ahead of Martha Hall Findlay's 5.7%.[157] Trudeau had lost only five ridings, all to Murray and all in BC.[158]

Leadership, 2013–15
Justin Trudeau delivering a speech on a doorstep in Toronto's Little Italy, 2014. Photo by Alex Guibord.[159]

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.[160]

According to EKOS Politics, in October 2013 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.[161] A December 12–15 (2013) EKOS poll showed the Liberals preferred by 32.1% of voters, the Conservatives by 26.2%, the NDP 22.9%. Likely voters, estimated by removing those who didn't vote in 2011, moved the parties into a logjam: Liberals 29.1%, Conservatives 28.5%, NDP 27.2%.[162]

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.[163]

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.[164]

On January 27, 2014, Trudeau and MP Carolyn Bennett escorted Chrystia Freeland into the House of Commons, as is traditional for by-election victors.[165] 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".[166]

2015 federal election

Trudeau marching in 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;[167][168] a gain of 150 seats compared to the 2011 federal election.[167]

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,[167] 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 election debates exceeding the lowered expectations created by Conservative advertisements and conservative media outlets.[169][170][171]

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".[172] Harper announced his resignation as the head of the Conservative Party that night.[173][174]

Prime Minister of Canada

Trudeau and the rest of the Cabinet were sworn in by governor general David Johnston on November 4, 2015. He said that his first legislative priority was to lower taxes for middle-income Canadians and raise taxes for the top one per cent of income earners after parliament was reconvened on December 3, 2015.[175] Trudeau also issued a statement promising to rebuild relations with indigenous people and run an open, ethical and transparent government.[176] 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.[177][178]

Domestic policy


During the election, the Liberal Party promised to run a deficit of around $10 billion per year, but due to the lower oil price, 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.[179]

Trudeau and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry before both officials signed the Paris Agreement on climate change.


In the election campaign, Trudeau said that if elected, he would implement an infrastructure plan worth $60 billion (US$42 billion) in spending over 10 years.[180]


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.[181] This stance was in line with a resolution passed by a majority of Liberal party members at its 2012 policy convention.[181] Trudeau's stance was criticized by conservative Catholics, with former MP Jim Karygiannis saying it will "definitely hurt the party",[182] and Toronto cardinal Thomas Collins writing to Trudeau urging him to reverse his ruling,[183] leading Trudeau to defend the position.[184]


Trudeau first publicly expressed an interest in the legalization of marijuana while speaking at a rally in Kelowna, B.C. on July 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."[185]

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."[186][187][188] 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.[189]

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.[190] 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.[191] In April 2016, the Trudeau government announced that it would aim to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis in Spring 2017.[192]


Trudeau's father was a deeply devout Roman Catholic and his mother converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism just prior to their wedding, although she studied Buddhism and considers herself an Anglican now. As a child, he 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.[54][193] 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.'"[54][193] 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.[54][193]

He 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."[194] The Charter was dismissed after the Quebec Liberal Party won in the 2014 provincial election.

Women's rights

Trudeau identifies as a feminist,[195] having stated, "I am a feminist. I'm proud to be a feminist." 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 simply, "Because it's 2015."[196] 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".[197]

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.[198]

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,[199] 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.[200]

Indigenous people

Trudeau met with hundreds of chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations on December 7, 2015, and laid out his philosophy and commitments to Canada's indigenous people, to assure their "constitutionally guaranteed rights ... a sacred obligation". In brief,[201] 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.[202][203]

Electoral reform

During the campaign prior to the 2015 federal election, Trudeau promised to eliminate the current voting system by the next federal election.[204] Called "first-past-the-post" or "single-member plurality",[205] 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 government.[206] Consequently, it is possible for a political party to form a majority government with around 40 percent of the popular vote across Canada.[204]

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.[207] However, Trudeau has said that he is open to proportional representation, which is more likely to produce coalition governments.[204][206]

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".[208]

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.[209]

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Trudeau thinks that Canada needs to study the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement before Canada makes a final decision on ratification.[210] 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.[211]

Foreign policy

Trudeau meeting with Barack Obama in March 2016.

On October 22, 2015, Trudeau stated that, once prime minister, he would end Canada's airstrike mission against ISIL.[212][213] 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.[214]

On November 13, 2015, Trudeau was asked whether his plans to change Canada's contribution to the fight against ISIS 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."[215][216][217]

On June 14, 2016, Trudeau refused to recognize ISIS's atrocities as genocide, instead waiting for an official position from the UN Security Council. He switched his position once the UN Commission released its inquiry on Syria.[218][219]

Trudeau supported the Harper-negotiated arms deal with Saudi Arabia,[220] believed to be the largest arms sale in Canadian history.[221]

Fidel Castro's death

Upon hearing the news of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's death, Trudeau released a statement that described Castro as a "remarkable leader" and a "larger than life leader who served his people." [222] Trudeau was criticized by political observers in Canada and United States for the statement.[223] United States Senator Marco Rubio called the statement "shameful and embarrassing," while Canadian MP Maxime Bernier called his remarks "repugnant."[223] The Washington Post questioned many of the claims made in Trudea's statements, saying that Trudeau "appears to accept outdated Cuban government spin as current fact."[224]

Personal life

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

Trudeau first met Sophie Grégoire when they were both children growing up in Montreal; Grégoire was a classmate and childhood friend of Trudeau's youngest brother, Michel.[225] 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 Roman Catholic ceremony at Montreal's Sainte-Madeleine d'Outremont Church.[226] They have three children: Xavier James (born October 18, 2007),[227] Ella-Grace Margaret (born February 5, 2009)[228][229] and Hadrian Grégoire (born February 28, 2014).[230][231]

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.[232] 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.[232]

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.[233] 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 comfortable for his family.[234]

Trudeau has a large Earth inside a Haida raven tattoo on his left arm.[235] The tattoo is based on a design by Robert Davidson, a Haida artist whose grandmother ceremonially adopted Pierre Trudeau as an honorary member of the Haida tribe during a 1976 trip to what was then called the Queen Charlotte Islands.[236]

Electoral record

Canadian federal election, 2008: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes%∆%Expenditures
LiberalJustin Trudeau 17,724 41.47 +2.99 $76,857
Bloc QuébécoisVivian Barbot 16,535 38.69 -2.06 $70,872
New DemocraticCosta Zafiropoulos 3,734 8.74 +1.04 $5,745
ConservativeMustaque Sarker 3,262 7.63 -0.69 $44,958
GreenIngrid Hein 1,213 2.84 -0.76 $814
IndependentMahmood Raza Baig 267 0.62 +0.20
Total valid votes/Expense limit 42,735 100.00 $81,172
Total rejected ballots 576 1.33
Turnout 43,311
Note: Baig's share of popular vote as an independent candidate is compared to his share in the 2006 general election as a Canadian Action Party candidate.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
Canadian federal election, 2011: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes%∆%
LiberalJustin Trudeau 16,429 38.41 −3.06
New DemocraticMarcos Radhames Tejada 12,102 28.29 +19.55
Bloc QuébécoisVivian Barbot 11,091 25.93 −12.76
ConservativeShama Chopra 2,021 4.73 −2.90
GreenDanny Polifroni 806 1.88 −0.96
Marxist–LeninistPeter Macrisopoulos 228 0.53
Not affiliated1Joseph Young 95 0.22
Total valid votes 42,772100.0  
Total rejected ballots 588
Turnout 43,330
Source: Official Results, Elections Canada.
1 Communist League
Liberal Party of Canada leadership election, 2013
Candidate First Ballot
Points* % Votes %
Justin Trudeau 24,669 80.1 81,389 78.76
Joyce Murray 3,131 10.2 12,148 11.76
Martha Hall Findlay 1,760 5.7 6,585 6.37
Martin Cauchon 816 2.6 1,630 1.58
Deborah Coyne 214 0.7 833 0.81
Karen McCrimmon 210 0.7 757 0.73
Total 30,800 100.0 104,552 100.00

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

Canadian federal election, 2015: Papineau
Party Candidate Votes%∆%Expenditures
LiberalJustin Trudeau 26,391 51.98 +14.05
New DemocraticAnne Lagacé Dowson 13,132 25.87 -3.6
Bloc QuébécoisMaxime Claveau 6,182 12.18 -12.71
ConservativeYvon Vadnais 2,390 4.71 -0.33
GreenDanny Polifroni 1,443 2.84 +0.95
IndependentChris Lloyd 505 0.99
RhinocerosTommy Gaudet 323 0.64
IndependentKim Waldron 159 0.31
Marxist–LeninistPeter Macrisopoulos 142 0.28 -0.25
No affiliationBeverly Bernardo 103 0.2
Total valid votes/Expense limit 50,770100.0 $213,091.50
Total rejected ballots 698
Turnout 51,468
Eligible voters 78,649
Source: Elections Canada[237][238]

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