Canadian Prime Minister encourages crowd to take ownership of their country’s future

Justin Trudeau addressed AU community and media on March 11 in the SIS Atrium

Canadian Prime Minister encourages crowd to take ownership of their country’s future

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a crowd of AU students, staff and international media in the School of International Service Atrium on Friday morning that young people need to challenge the status quo if they hope to see change in the world.

“[Current leaders] need you to be thinking and challenging us about why we’re doing this, why we’re doing that, why we’re not doing this, how we’re doing this differently, and that doesn’t just mean speaking up,” Trudeau said. “It also means getting involved. It also means understanding that your voices are an essential part of the mix to challenge us to think about your future.”

Trudeau’s stop at AU came as part of a larger trip to Washington D.C., the first by a Canadian Prime Minister in 19 years. Earlier during his visit, Trudeau spent time with President Barack Obama at the White House, attended a State Dinner studded with appearances by politicians, celebrities and entrepreneurs and paid respects at Arlington National Cemetery.

Since his election in October 2015, Trudeau has committed his time in office to implementing his liberal ideals in Canadian policy. Trudeau became the first Prime Minister to have gender parity in his Cabinet when he chose 13 men and 13 women to fill the roles. He is also well-known for labeling himself as a feminist and supporting his stance on the issue by saying, “Because it’s 2015,” last year.

“There are lots of extraordinary women standing up for women’s rights, but I need more men to do that. It’s fighting for rights, it’s fighting for equality, it’s fighting for basic respect, and I keep having to update this, but it’s 2016 guys,” Trudeau said at today’s event.

Additionally, Trudeau discussed his commitment to take action against climate change which he also shared with Obama during their meeting yesterday.

“That idea of giving up on economic progress to protect the environment no longer makes sense because the only way we’re going to build a strong, sustainable economy is by cherishing ecosystem services and natural resources that underpin everything else,” Trudeau said.

In light of the current election cycle occurring in the United States, Trudeau said he was not concerned about an influx of Americans immigrating to Canada should people disagree with the United States’s next president and said that he would be willing to work with the person ultimately elected. He also commented on Canada’s recent decision to end its role in bombing ISIS, choosing instead to send in ground troops to help civilians build the ability to support themselves. Trudeau said that this type of diplomacy work is essential to creating long-term security and is something Canada can offer.

During his speech, Trudeau also called for a greater appreciation for diversity and creating opportunities for all kinds of people to succeed as important to developing the economy. He said that in the past, many people’s careers had a linear trajectory, but that isn’t the case today.

“Right now the career paths that we’re going to have will jump around everywhere. I mean, it’s preposterous to think that a former snowboard instructor and nightclub bouncer could end up the Prime Minister of Canada,” Trudeau said, poking fun at his own path to becoming the Prime Minister. “But the experiences we accumulate along the way of multiple career paths and multiple engagements that define us and shape us as individuals and leaders are extremely important and extremely varied and that’s one of the really exciting things for me about this generation.”

Trudeau said that he built his campaign to office based on a pure idealization of what Canadian citizens hoped their government to be, including openness and cooperation, and he plans to keep his promises and maintain Canada’s relationship with the United States.

“People need to understand that the rights and freedoms that keep us free and democratic societies aren’t always easy, aren’t always sort of knee-jerk, adapted to how we’d like the world to be, but they are essential in terms of being the countries we are,” Trudeau said.

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