Justin Trudeau has now been Prime Minister for a fortnight. He ascended to the office on the promise of real change. Remarkably he has already delivered on that basic promise, after only a fortnight. Canada has changed. Canadians are living with a new hope.
The focus is positive, moving forward to rebuilding our Nation on the core values we innately carry – respect, strength in diversity and humanitarian action. These values have quickly quashed the fear, the negativism and the partisans that Harper ruled with for 10 years.
Some may disagree, but the change has been in many respects miraculous. With just a few unique actions, Trudeau is telling all Canadians and the international community that a new era has begun in Canada. It began with his walk down the driveway of Rideau Hall with his elected inner circle of cabinet minister appointees and the opening the grounds so anyone could attend. The fixed crowds that Harper deployed to every announcement and every election stop are gone. The door is opened. Then he did what he said he would, created a cabinet of diversity reflecting Canada’s diversity but equally strong in gender. Remarkable, a leader who keeps his promise on his first day in office.
The open door widened as he agreed to let CBC in follow him on his first day to the top of the Peace Tower with his children to raise the flag and then ride on the bus, as so many Canadians do every day, to Parliament Hill, with his team, instead of scurrying across from Rideau Hall in limousines as elitists to run the country. And as he was about to enter his first Cabinet meeting he shared his vision of leadership – enabling others to achieve their potential, just as a teacher does. Wow: enabling people instead of muzzling them. Normally not a remarkable action but after 10 years of Harper, very refreshing. None of these actions are earth shattering but in the aftermath of Harper’s autocratic leadership they are profound and liberating.
He continued his “real” change by sharing publicly the mandate letters to each of his cabinet ministers. These directives are more than a cosmetic gesture for the public to consume. They articulate his vision and commitment to “build an even greater country … to honour the trust Canadians have given us” and to act in non partisan ways, once again unlike his predecessor, Harper. The transparency is not only good politics, it is a public declaration that enables all of us to hold each of them to be accountable.
Now as he moves on to the world stage as prime minister, in the midst of crisis-laden world, after the attacks in Beirut and Paris, he has reiterated his commitment to move forward by building, instead of destroying. So while the Conservatives still respond with fear, Trudeau is choosing to put fear and oppression behind us and move forward with bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada as soon as possible, to redefine the relationship Canada has with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, to address climate change and to even revamp the Senate into a merit-based, non-partisan institution to guide our legislative process to ensure our deepest values are sustained and respected in our laws.
Well Mr. Trudeau, I extend a simple thank you for the “real” change you have initiated across our land. I urge you to continue with these positive initiatives and not let the old guard convince you to do otherwise.
Patrick Scott, PhD., is the negotiations coordinator for Dehcho First Nations.