When Democracy blurs
Updated: Dec 10, 2022
Office of the Prime Minister 80 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
I have to admit when you first became leader of the Liberal Party, I had my reservations. You were young, inexperienced, and many of your moral and economic beliefs simply opposed mine.
Some of these were unfair. You may not have had the political resume that previous leaders had, but your relentless work ethic and willingness to engage with Canadians of diverse backgrounds is truly inspiring.
I know for a fact you're a voracious reader. You're always interested in learning. You want to prove people wrong for their misconceptions about you.
Your entire life you've had a target on your back that would cause many of us to cave and retreat. You've done the opposite: you accepted the challenge to live in the shadow of your dad - the late Pierre Trudeau. For that I commend you.
This past summer I read your book Common Ground, and if I'm honest I couldn’t put it down. It might have been the best I read all year. Your life story is compelling. The canoe trips you went on with your father as a kid, your backpacking trip around the world as a young adult, even your romance with Sophie.
Justin, if there is one thing that I took from your book; it's your ability to not let grief define you, but to be better from it. Your parents’ divorce was heavily publicized, but you sought the good from both people and have been shaped by both sides of your family. And then, your brother Michel's tragic ski death moved you to become an active member of Canada's avalanche-safety organizations. You seek to redeem even in adversity.
While others abandon hope, you remain optimistic.
When CTV chief anchor Lisa LaFlamme interviewed you at year-end, you responded to her question about dealing with US President Donald Trump by confidently saying: "He was elected on the promise to help people."
You and Trump differ considerably in how you view the world, but you're committed to work together with him. You've made what many perceive an insurmountable barrier far less distracting, and far less disruptive.
As leader of Canada's Liberal Party, I know the ideals you strive to uphold flow out of democracy in the same way that those do from the Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, and Green Party.
However, the recent changes made to the Canada Summer Jobs program have, in my opinion, crossed the line. In order for employers to receive government funding for summer students they must sign off to be in favour of abortion.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful. The fact that our government financially encourages employers to hire summer students at all is beyond generous. I benefited from this for multiple summers while I was a student, but this requirement is intolerant.
It goes against democracy. Citizens in our country will be unable to participate in a Canada-sanctioned program because they're unwilling to compromise their own personal convictions. That's exclusion.
I was fearful when you mandated in 2014 that all Liberal MP's hold a pro-choice view to be in your party. Now I'm worried, not just because of the Canada Summer Jobs program, but of what might happen next.
A caring Canadian,