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The West Block – Episode 9, Season 11 – Nationwide

The West Block – Episode 9, Season 11 – Nationwide

Episode 9, Season 11
Sunday, December 26, 2021

Host: Mercedes Stephenson

12 months-Finish Interview with
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Location: Ottawa, ON

Mercedes Stephenson: As Canada plunges into the third 12 months of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should discover a solution to lead the nation by means of it. However that’s not his solely problem.

2021 introduced a pointy rise in the price of dwelling, revealed an unprecedented disaster within the army, a extra aggressive China, and Afghanistan collapsed. The place is the federal government’s accountability? And what’s the method ahead? We’ll ask the prime minister in my year-end interview.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, thanks a lot for sitting down with us right here on this very grand room simply off of Parliament Hill. It’s your annual year-end interview. Actually massive 12 months for you: an election, extra pandemic, and your birthday. You might be, after all, a Christmas day child turning 50. Are you the place you needed to be at this level in life?

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Initially, I’m by no means positive about saying Christmas child anymore once you’re about to show 50. You already know, that’s a—there’s a little bit of a disjunction there.

Pay attention, this previous 12 months, just like the 12 months earlier than, has all been round specializing in making an attempt to assist Canadians by means of these very tough instances, COVID an enormous half it, however all kinds of different challenges as properly. And being, I feel, extremely grateful on a private degree that Canadians are usually, so considerate and current and there for one another that even by means of the hardest instances you might have examples of individuals stepping up and being there that has allowed us to come back by means of some actually, actually difficult moments.

Mercedes Stephenson: While you take a look at that, so many Canadians are having a extremely tough Christmas. Life is pricey proper now. Shopping for a turkey is pricey. There are people who find themselves absolutely employed and they’re barely capable of make ends meet. What are you going to do for Canadians particularly, to help them who’re struggling to pay their primary payments with the inflation that we’re seeing in Canada and throughout the globe?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Nicely the very first thing we stated when this pandemic hit is that we’d be there to have Canadians’ backs and that has guided us all through. This inflation disaster we’re in, the rising prices of dwelling for folks is a direct response of the influence of the pandemic on the worldwide financial system and on Canada, and the perfect factor we will do to help folks, is to finish this pandemic for good.

Mercedes Stephenson: However how do you try this because the federal authorities? I’d love so that you can finish the pandemic. I’m positive you’d love to finish the pandemic, however that’s a extremely powerful factor to do.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: It’s. However it entails getting in boosters, which we’re doing. It entails supporting the provinces in getting these boosters into arms, which is occurring. It additionally entails ensuring that whether or not it’s municipalities, or provinces, or non-public companies, individuals are empowered to make the powerful choices that contain maintaining distances, following public well being tips, figuring out that the federal government will proceed to be there with helps as crucial that can permit us not simply to get by means of this pandemic but additionally to have our financial system bounce again stronger.

Mercedes Stephenson: One of many actually massive challenges you might have as a chief minister is China. And one of many massive moments for you this 12 months was getting the 2 Michaels dwelling. Take me to that second on the tarmac once you noticed them.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: It was terribly emotional for me. To see them coming dwelling and to know that they had been coming dwelling due to the truth that we stayed sturdy on our values, we stayed sturdy on the rule of regulation and we didn’t make any facet or backroom offers. We stated no. We’re a rustic of the rule of regulation and we’re going to mannequin that. And we acquired international locations all over the world to deliver up the case of the 2 Canadians each time they had been talking with Chinese language management, which was extraordinarily impactful on the Chinese language and desirous to search for an answer on this. However that one second that touched me maybe greater than the rest was when Michael Kovrig turned to me and stated, “Thanks for getting me dwelling, however thanks additionally for staying true to what Canada is and stands for as one of many good guys whilst you had been doing the whole lot you may to get us dwelling.”

Mercedes Stephenson: That should have been such a burden lifted for you.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: It was, it was, it was surprisingly emotional on a private degree as a result of as a pacesetter, as a chief minister, you wish to do the best factor. You already know what the best factor is, however there’s a human value. These two Canadians had been caught in horrible circumstances, completely arbitrarily and there was at the very least a theoretical method of me taking shortcuts and backroom offers to get them dwelling, however I knew and I felt that you just needed to do the best factor and we stayed the course on the best factor. And to listen to one of many Michaels’ say to me, “You probably did the best factor” was satisfying on a private degree in ways in which stunned even me.

Mercedes Stephenson: I may think about to listen to him say that and to make your choices going ahead, as a result of China’s not going to again off.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: When likeminded international locations pull collectively, once we align, once we coordinate, once we present a united entrance as a result of one of many challenges that we’ve had as a western world is that we compete with one another. We’re making an attempt to see how we may get higher entry for Canadian beef than Australian beef to this nation or that market. There’s been a little bit of competitors amongst mates as a result of we’re capitalist democracies on making an attempt to do properly, particularly given the extraordinary financial alternative of the rising Chinese language middle-class. So, how will we entry that? Nicely we’ve been competing and China has been on occasion, very cleverly taking part in us off one another in an open market aggressive method. We have to do a greater job of working collectively and standing sturdy in order that China can’t play the angles and divide us one in opposition to the opposite and fairly frankly, on the difficulty of arbitrary detentions the place we are saying dozens upon dozens of nations signing onto this in a really possible way declaring that no, coercive diplomacy shouldn’t be alright. These sorts of initiatives do make a distinction.

Mercedes Stephenson: So what’s your technique going ahead? As a result of I feel everybody understood that whereas the 2 Michaels had been in custody, you had been just a little handcuffed on what you may do as a result of there are two Canadians whose lives are at stake. Their dwelling now, what’s the way in which ahead for Canada?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: The way in which ahead, is to initially, be happy that the Michaels are dwelling, but additionally to be clever to the truth that the China that did that’s now not the China that we thought of ten years in the past and even 5 years in the past in some methods. And we now have to be alert to that chance but additionally to that thoughts body that they’ve transferring ahead, which implies there are issues we’re going to must proceed to problem China on: human rights, democracy in Hong Kong, helps for journalists, non-interference within the goings on of impartial international locations in Asia. These kinds of issues are actually vital for us, however there are methods during which we’re going to must compete with China, whether or not it’s on the business degree with commerce offers, on items and providers. Being considerate round that after which there are methods during which we’re going to wish to work with China and take into consideration local weather change, for instance, the place they’ll be a big participant if we’re going to have the ability to decarbonize our world financial system, they must be a part of it. So all these totally different nuances are going to proceed, however I feel we’re going into it with a really vivid understanding of the way in which fashionable China operates.

Mercedes Stephenson: Arising, we’ll have extra of my dialog with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, proper after this.


Story continues beneath commercial

Mercedes Stephenson: Welcome again. My one-on-one with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues with a take a look at Canada’s function on the earth, from combating U.S. protectionism to calling an election through the fall of Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “We are going to proceed to work over the approaching months to resettle refugees.”

Mercedes Stephenson: Right here’s the second a part of my dialog with the prime minister.

You need to function in a world now the place Canada doesn’t have the buffer zone that we used to. It was, , three oceans and the US. Donald Trump’s presidency modified that. Joe Biden, a lot friendlier, clearly, with you, however nonetheless Purchase America and really protectionist. With local weather change, the Arctic is opening up. You’re seeing a extra aggressive China, a extra aggressive Russia. How do you insulate Canada once you don’t have a few of these protections and fall backs that earlier prime ministers did?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Nicely the primary half, and sure, the worldwide context is shifting, however, , we nonetheless have three oceans and a powerful ally in the US. The flavours are shifting just a little bit, however we’re in an especially good place. However the one factor that has at all times served Canada and certainly, a variety of center powers on the earth, is multilateralism, is working with like-minded international locations, is aligning our focus, our initiatives, our measures ahead, figuring out that no nation is ready to go it alone and fairly frankly, what we’re seeing and what we noticed by means of the previous 4 years of the US below Trump, is that even the U.S. when it tries to go alone, isn’t capable of actually go it alone. And the place President Biden continues to cope with actual challenges internally, domestically and polarization and all kinds of issues he’s having to cope with, he’s additionally returning to a sure degree of engagement and collaboration and alignment with companions.

Mercedes Stephenson: With regards to overseas affairs, one of many massive issues that I doubt anybody noticed coming when it comes to dominating the election was Afghanistan. And your authorities was very closely criticized for calling an election. There have been allegations that ministers weren’t paying consideration that they had been busy campaigning. Is there something you remorse about the way you dealt with that?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Election or no election, we did the whole lot we may to speed up the evacuation of Canadians and Canadian supporters from Afghanistan. I feel the complete world, and I’ve talked with numerous our allies in Europe and elsewhere who had been caught extraordinarily off-guard with how rapidly issues acquired uncontrolled in Afghanistan…

Mercedes Stephenson: However the intelligence was there two, three months upfront warning that the autumn was occurring far sooner than anticipated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: We knew it was coming. We didn’t realize it was going to be this quick. No one knew it was going to be this quick. So the response we had, I imply, Canada responded properly. Different international locations responded properly. It nonetheless wasn’t sufficient to stave off the humanitarian tragedy of the Taliban taking management. And that’s the place the efforts we did all through the month of August to evacuate 1000’s of individuals, must proceed now. And so they proceed. A aircraft landed, , lately with a whole lot of Afghan refugees on it. We’re persevering with to deliver extra folks in. We’ve had about 4 thousand are available. We’re on our solution to welcoming in 40 thousand Afghan refugees within the coming 12 months or two.

Mercedes Stephenson: Two years is a very long time if the Taliban’s making an attempt to kill you.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: It’s a very long time and that’s why we’re making an attempt to speed up as a lot as we presumably can and why we’re working with allies to place stress on the Taliban to permit folks to depart Afghanistan. And it’s going to be a really tough winter for folks in Afghanistan and it’s heartbreaking for Canadians, together with and particularly the Canadians who served alongside many extraordinary Afghan residents who had been there not simply supporting Canadians however combating for a greater future for his or her nation, for his or her sisters, for his or her daughters that at the moment are going through this horrific setback. And it’s one thing fairly extraordinary, the extent to which Canadians are prepared to open up our communities, our properties, to welcome in Afghan refugees greater than every other nation on the earth. Our targets are larger. Our will is larger to resettle and on the identical time, we have to proceed to do the humanitarian and improvement helps which can be going to deliver Afghans into a spot of stability whereas we work round as a lot as attainable the Taliban authorities which can be terrorists.

Mercedes Stephenson: With regards to the army, army sexual misconduct, one thing that you just and I’ve talked rather a lot about this 12 months. Two of the highest commanders within the Canadian Armed Forces each accused of sexual misconduct. There was basic after basic after admiral who has needed to step apart. How did you not know that there was an issue within the army earlier than the story broke?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: I feel—properly, the Deschamps report made clear that there was an issue within the armed forces. I feel there was a variety of religion that Operation Valour of the previous years was making progress on this, however it took some terribly highly effective tales about a few of the highest positioned people, tales that you just and your colleagues particularly had been spearheading, to know the depth and the dimensions of the tradition problem in our armed forces. The truth that we now have such respect for the men and women within the armed forces who’ve our backs, that it’s tough for all of us to understand that we haven’t had their backs. That we now have allowed a tradition of command and an atmosphere within the army that isn’t worthy of these younger individuals who select to step ahead and serve, or of the dad and mom who’re so proud to ship and see their children be a part of our armed forces. And that’s one thing that every one Canadians must reckon with, however particularly our authorities, which is why we made an apology however principally…

Mercedes Stephenson: Nicely it was a court docket mandated apology.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: The apology is a vital factor, however extra vital is the motion we take to place men and women on the centre of what we’re doing, the survivors who want the help, the individuals who select to serve, as a result of not solely do we have to repair the tradition within the army, we want our army to continue to grow, to maintain with the ability to serve Canadians within the excessive climate occasions and all over the world. And the challenges of recruitment proper now when folks see the atmosphere and the tradition there may be actually, actually regarding. And that’s why, whether or not it’s the work that Justice Arbour is doing or Lieutenant-Common Carignan is doing and all of the efforts that even the brand new chief of defence employees, the vice-chief of defence employees who’s the primary girl within the function, or Minister Anand that they’re engaged on to remodel this in a method that for the primary time in a very long time for many individuals throughout the army, feels actual. However there may be a lot extra to do as .

Mercedes Stephenson: After the break, extra from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his authorities’s response to army sexual misconduct.


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Mercedes Stephenson: The army sexual misconduct scandal rocked the Canadians forces and plunged the army right into a management disaster.

The prime minister will get candid concerning the want for tradition change and his regrets about not doing earlier, within the ultimate a part of our dialog.

Why did you by no means maintain anyone in your workplace or your minister accountable for what occurred? As a result of folks knew, they heard the rumours. Why was it that you just had been by no means prepared to really put that accountability on the elected authorities’s shoulders for what they didn’t look into?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Pay attention, there’s at all times methods of trying again on what may have or ought to have been accomplished in a different way, however the truth is Minister Sajjan, who’s himself a adorned soldier who was a member of the police earlier than that, had fought all his life in opposition to the sort of intolerance and outdated boys’ community that we all know was a part of the issue within the army. And I had—and I’ve confidence in him to proceed to combat to do the best factor.

Mercedes Stephenson: You actually suppose he did a very good job?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: I feel it was an unimaginable job and I feel he did a very good job. Sure, I do. I feel given the context that he was confronted with, given the scenario and the depth of the challenges within the armed forces he set us up for the success that we’re going to be having over the approaching years.

Mercedes Stephenson: Ought to he have advised you? Do you suppose he ought to have stated, “Hey, you’re sitting down with this chief of the defence employees, I even have some fairly critical issues about what his behaviour may be.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: I don’t wish to get into the small print of issues which can be persevering with to be investigated and seem earlier than the courts. However I do know Harjit Sajjan. I do know the extraordinary folks within the armed forces who wish to see change occur. I do know the people who find themselves engaged on it now are deeply dedicated to creating that tradition change that regardless of all of the phrases being stated about making an attempt to do that over the previous a long time is now occurring for actual. And what Justice Arbour is transferring ahead with is not only one other report, however is a concrete implementation plan that pulls collectively all of the totally different suggestions and says okay, “You are able to do this, you are able to do this,” which is why when she got here out only a few weeks in the past and stated, “Okay, subsequent factor it’s best to do is take all of the sexual misconduct circumstances out of the army justice system and put them within the civilian courts.” We’re doing that proper now. These kinds of measures that aren’t simply okay, accepting the advice of a report however taking concrete actions which can be going to remodel our army in ways in which put the men and women who serve on the centre of it, survivors on the centre of our…

Mercedes Stephenson: The concrete actions you may have taken six years in the past.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Mm-hum, sure. And looking out again, there are at all times issues that we want we had accomplished extra and sooner, however when the very prime ranges of the army are insisting that there isn’t any drawback, it’s a problem for any authorities to say, “Okay, you’re mistaken. We’re going to do away with all of you. We’re going to herald a completely new system.” It took a disaster, sadly, as a result of I want it hadn’t. I want the ladies who got here ahead and confirmed extraordinary energy and bravado on prime of getting needed to undergo issues which can be unacceptable, didn’t must be the instigators combating for all their different brothers and sisters who proceed to endure in silence. However that’s what it took and I’m so grateful for them and I’ll proceed to do proper by the braveness they’d in transferring ahead to say there must be a change. I want we had accomplished it 10 years in the past. I want we had accomplished it 50 years in the past, however we’re doing it now.

Mercedes Stephenson: How do you’re feeling once you suppose again to a few of these conferences you had with these chiefs of the defence employees?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: One in every of my very first volunteer jobs or volunteer engagements once I was again at McGill as a college scholar was with the Sexual Assault Centre at McGill Scholar Society. The concept of consent, of date rape, of sexual misconduct in educational establishment was one thing that 25 years later I see we haven’t made a lot progress on and I actually genuinely imagine once I was engaged on that 25, 30 years in the past, we had been going to see modifications. It’s unbelievably gradual to make these modifications, however they’re occurring. And I want I may have accomplished extra. I want I had been capable of do extra. I want circumstances would have pushed us into it, however we’re there now. And we’re pushing as laborious and as quick and with the whole lot we will, and we’re being supported by extraordinary members of the armed forces from the within who say, “About time. Thanks for doing it. Right here is our help as properly,” whether or not it’s Lt.-Gen. Carignan, or outdoors consultants, or folks within the combine who’re lastly bringing this about, as a result of it’s not nearly ending sexual misconduct within the army, though that in itself is a large factor. It’s additionally about understanding {that a} fashionable army must do a greater job of valuing and respecting each particular person of their full range throughout the armed forces. And sure, there’ll at all times be command constructions and at all times be hierarchies. That’s the way in which the army must work. However doing a greater job of appreciating the worth and respect for each particular person who put up their hand and didn’t must, it wasn’t drafted in, stated, “I wish to serve my nation by placing all of it on the road for them.” They’re worthy of a degree of respect and they’re worthy of being seen within the fullness of who they’re in a method that militaries all all over the world, the Canadian army is not any exception, should do a greater job of as a result of these women and men who serve, who select to serve and their households, deserve a hell of much more. And Canadians should have the individuals who have our backs, be correctly supported as they’re doing it.

Mercedes Stephenson: Prime Minster Trudeau, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us. Completely satisfied Birthday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Thanks, Mercedes.

Mercedes Stephenson: Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: Merry Christmas to you as properly.


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