Justin Trudeau defends his trade history, economy in interview The National


I sat down with the prime minister at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal last Thursday.

It was before the Prime Ministers meeting, a meeting that showed a lot of talk about tension, but not a lot of consequences for all this talk.

It's not one of those year-end interviews; It's an interview I've been trying for some time. He's busy, that's understandable.

But as we are now less than a year away from an election, sitting down with the current prime minister and his rivals for such work seems important. The purpose of the interview was not to get Trudeau to react to the news of the day, but to reflect a little on the decisions he made, to defend and explain them.

You can judge the good work he does to answer these questions.

We will do other interviews with other leaders in the coming weeks to help Canadians understand what these leaders and their parties advocate and, when the time comes, how to decide who best represents their values ​​and priorities

RB: Good to see you.

PMJT: Good to be here, Rosie.

RB: How are you?

PMJT: Very well.

RB: Good. I'll start with where you were last week, at the G20 and the signing of the new NAFTA, that's what I call it. I know you can argue that tariffs and trade agreement are not the same thing, which are two separate things, but it seems to me that you had some influence there with the United States, and you will not succeed again. So, why did you even sign with the rates still in effect?

PMJT: Well, I think first and foremost, to ensure that access to our most important trading partner for companies, workers, our Canadian economy is essential, and the non-signing alternative would have put what we have achieved in terms of signing one really important trade agreement with the US at a time of tremendous protectionism and uncertainty. I mean, investors and companies are extremely happy that we've settled the NAFTA issue.

RB: Of course.

PMJT: The question of leverage is to reflect on this. I mean, obviously, we want to get rid of these steel and aluminum tariffs, we need to, we will continue to defend our workers, but we also see the road to ratification as a place where there are continuous conversations of members of Congress, companies or associations in the States United States, from governors who also want to see these lost tariffs, and we will continue working on this.

RB: So that's the lever, trying to pressure the people around you or the people in Washington?

PMJT: Every step of the way has continued to be leveraged and we will continue to do what Canadians expect us to do, which is to look at every opportunity to defend our interests.

See Trudeau to discuss rates:

In an all-encompassing interview with Rosemary Barton of The National, which airs on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks about Canada's steel and aluminum tariffs – and his game plan to remove them. 0:39

RB: When you were having that news conference next to the president and you said at one point: "Donald, one more reason to get rid of those fees, you gave him a butt you would do it or did you just feel like you need to publicly admonish him like that.

PMJT: No, I talked to him a little earlier and talked to him a few days ago, impressed him with how important it was for us to get rid of, and get rid of those fees between our two countries. It makes no sense to be advancing in free trade and still have tariffs, particularly those that are in a national security rationale that does not make sense when it comes to Canada.

RB: OK, but that's what we did, we moved on with free trade and we left the tariffs in place. So what is the way to get rid of them?

PMJT: Continue to engage with the broad range of partners in the United States, for congressional members, for business leaders, for groups of workers who know that such fares, like any fare, hurt consumers and workers on both sides of the border.

RB: There was a point there once it was done, after it was done, where the US ambassador said we would probably send someone with a bag over their heads for a signing ceremony. Why did you feel the need to play along with the fact that it was so difficult, sometimes personal, why you gave the president that moment to brag about the trade agreement?

PMJT: Oh, Canadians do not want me to do it personally, Canadians want me to make sure I'm doing what's right for Canada and it's certain that Canada will move forward with a NAFTA insurance – that's what I've heard of Canadians across the country. This is what people from all political backgrounds and all industries have worked together. Our unified approach to NAFTA made a huge difference around the negotiating table and we got a better deal than we would normally do.

Watch the full interview with Justin Trudeau:

RB: Yes, but you do not have to stand by it to sign. This would happen if you were there or not, then …

PMJT: Not really, there needed to be a signing ceremony and we were happy to be able to say, "look, we work hard on this, there is still more work to be done on tariffs, obviously we need to defend our steel and aluminum workers, trade with the United States and that's an important thing, it's not a small thing. "

RB: You said that the president is unpredictable, you said he did not follow the rules, can you give me an example of how it affected your job as a PM, having someone who is so unpredictable?

PMJT: Well, I think that, as Canadians have seen, we continue to be constructive in our relationship with the United States. This means that we certainly do not react or react too much when we receive a surprise in a tweet or statement. We continue to say, look, the relationship is greater than that between any two individuals in the heads of the country, and we will continue to focus on that relationship, and that is between Canadians and Americans. This approach put us in good stead.

RB: But it certainly made your job more challenging.

PMJT: Being Prime Minister of Canada is a challenging job at any time, and there are always personalities and challenges on the global stage that we have to deal with. I have become accustomed to having to adapt to surprises on the world stage, not just the United States. This comes with territory.

RB: Did it get easier with the president?

PMJT: I think we certainly have a level of understanding of each other that has grown through working together through a resolution on this great archive of modernization of NAFTA. So, yes, there is a little more understanding of what our personalities are and how we can work together.

RB: But are not you going out with him?

PMJT: Canadians expect me to be professional around this and I will continue.

RB: I want to switch to something else that happened at the G20 when you took some time to meet the Saudi prince. The Saudi Crown Prince, MBS. You raised the issue of Raif Badawi, his sister Jamal Khashoggi, and the war in Yemen. As one leader responds to another leader coming up to him and saying, "Listen, we have some problems here, I need you to do it," what you asked for it. How does he respond to this?

PMJT: Well, I think it depends a lot on the way things are expressed, and my picture, in all cases on the world stage, is that Canada wants to be helpful in moving us to a better place as a planet and highlighting our concerns in around the world. The humanitarian crisis in Yemen involves an offer of "Canada wants to be useful", whether through the UN, with our allies. There are people suffering and dying, we want to be useful.

That is why we need to see a ceasefire, we certainly want to work with you in the international community to reach that ceasefire and to be able to flow humanitarian aid. It's never a situation for you to know, imagining that we can stay there and tell another country what to do or how to do it. It's saying, "Look, it would be great if you did this and we could be useful to move forward constructively." I think that's what Canadians try to do on the world stage at all levels.

RB: I can see how this conversation would happen in Yemen, less obvious how that would happen in Jamal Khashoggi.


In this archive photo of October 24, 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the second day of the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Prince Mohammed spoke with Justin Trudeau at the recent G20 summit in Argentina. (Amr Nabil / Associated Press)

RB: How do you say to the Crown Prince? "We're pretty sure you were involved in the murder of an innocent journalist."

PMJT: Well, we say we need better answers on that. We need better responsibility. The death of a journalist is extremely serious to Canadians, to me. But I'm getting a lot of questions from Canadians, who are rightly like citizens around the world, really worried, outraged at what happened. We need, as a global community, to provide better responses to citizens.

RB: Your response to you, saying this, with you knowing full well what you know about the intelligence behind it?

PMJT: Your response is: "Look, we're happy to continue to work and get more information and more evidence, and if you have evidence or information, continue to provide it. That is exactly what we are doing.

RB: Do you roll your eyes at that point?

PMJT: Being a leader on the world stage involves having the ability to interact with all types of people without letting personal feelings move beyond involuntary movements.

RB: Did you hear the tape, or were you told what the tape is?

PMJT: I've been told what the tape is.

RB: And how was that?

PMJT: Obviously, it's something that intelligence communities have taken, heard and worked on and is part of our reflection on how to get real answers.

RB: Could you characterize this for me?

PMJT: I will not characterize this, no.

RB: Horrendous?

PMJT: I will not characterize this.

RB: You also made it clear to the Crown Prince that Canada stands for human rights. How can you say that to him, knowing we're still selling these light armored vehicles? Is there no contradiction in this?

PMJT: This is a question that arises not only in relation to Saudi Arabia, but in relation to a broader set of countries that have different levels of defensive human rights than Canadians and Canadians expect. Whether in China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or other countries around the world that are not as advanced in terms of LGBT defensive rights, or others.

We try to find constructive ways to have relationships that make us very open about human rights, where we disagree, where we feel we could be useful to make things better, while looking for a way where you're not shaking your fist to someone and saying, "You need to change" in an expectation that only that will make them change.

RB: No, not only that, but Germany did it. Germany said, "We're not willing to do that anymore."

PMJT: We are very involved with the issue behind the scenes, analyzing the export licenses and analyzing the ways forward.

RB: Is the contract impossible to break?

PMJT: There are reflections going on around this.

RB: What does that mean?

PMJT: That means we are discussing what to do with our ongoing economic relations with Saudi Arabia.

RB: Only then am I clear, the contract can be broken. It's possible.

PMJT: As I pointed out, the contract has particular provisions, both for confidentiality and for significant penalties. It was a contract that was signed by the previous government and we are looking at it, obviously.

RB: OK. Let's go back to what's to happen this week, the minister's first meeting. You are about to enter this meeting with a group of people you probably do not know as well, which I would not characterize as particular allies. You have four provinces that have not met the carbon tax, now you are imposing it on them.

It also seems more coordinated, actively working against you in the carbon tax. How much harder it is then for you to sell it to Canadians knowing that there are these other people out there saying it's the wrong thing to do.

PMJT: One of the questions that people have asked me is: Given the context, but the real differences around the prime minister's desk that are likely to arise, I am wishing I had taken a page out of Stephen Harper's book and decided to end it altogether the Prime Minister's meetings? And the answer is of course not. I think it's really important to sit back and be able to look people in the eye and talk constructively about how we serve the citizens we are all here to serve.

Scott McBride of Nanaimo, BC, holds a caricature of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a protest against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline in Burnaby, BC, on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Critics say Trudeau did a lousy job work in supporting the oil industry. (Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press)

There will be things we agree with, there will be things we disagree with, and having these conversations, even if some are more difficult than others, and some years harder than others, it remains something I think Canadians expect from his prime minister. I am glad that this is our fourth year doing this, and I will continue to sit down and meet with the principals every year because it is really important in terms of our federation.

RB: I understand, that was not the point. The question was: is it harder to sell the carbon tax when you have premier saying it's the wrong thing to do?

PMJT: I think the fact that there are a lot of conservatives out there who have decided that pollution should be free is not that difficult to combat. I think Canadians understand that we have to fight against climate change, prepare our economies for the future, and ensure that we are supporting Canadians in this transition. That's exactly what we're doing, that's exactly what our plan is.

We are putting a price on pollution because we want less pollution and the fact that conservatives in this country do not want to move forward, be it fighting climate change or helping people make sure we can get good jobs in the future, to have at any time. The political machinations around him that the conservatives of Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford, and others are trying, are really off the base of where the conversations I've had with the Canadians are.

RB: I think Canadians are worried about climate change as well. I'm not sure, though, that they are willing to give up the comfort of their lives because of climate change. which is what you're suggesting, is not it?

PMJT: No, but that is exactly why we are doing to move forward with a price on pollution also involves ensuring that ordinary families in the provinces where the federal government has to pay a price for pollution cause the conservative government to do so, which these families are actually better, better supported. What we are doing with the encouragement of climate action is to ensure that a family in Ontario, which will have extra costs for putting a price on pollution, is more than equivalent to it offset.

RB: What is your hope in terms of how these people change their behavior and do you have a sense of how fast that would happen?

PMJT: Well, I think we know when you put a price on something you do not want …

RB: a tax.

PMJT: likes pollution.

RB: a tax.

PMJT: Well, we're putting a price on pollution, right?

RB: It's a tax, but okay.

PMJT: And we are making sure, let's act, in fact, the money goes straight to the jurisdiction. This is not going to the federal coffers. This is not something we will spend on something else. In fact, we are returning the money to the citizens of the province in which it was created, because we know that if you make it pollution-free, people will give more.

This is frankly what conservatives want to do. They want to make the pollution free again, to use a useful phrase. We say no, if you want to pollute, there must be a cost associated with that.

RB: And yet we saw a politician, I think he's a political ally of yours, Emmanuel Macron, faced that same question in the last two weeks. He put a surcharge on the fuel, riots on the street, and he had to retreat. What lesson did you learn by watching this?

PMJT: He did not guarantee the second part, you put a price on pollution because we want less pollution, but you also make sure that ordinary Canadians can pay for that transition to a low carbon economy.

RB: So is the discount that makes the difference?

PMJT: Discount, support for families, because people are worried about the future, are worried about climate change, they are also worried about their children's jobs and their own retirement. Ensuring that we are supporting families in this transitional period is a key responsibility of every government. That is at the heart of our approach, not what we can see from the conservative approach, and that is not what other countries have done.

So when conservatives, and other people, when they talk particularly about people who travel, people who live in the suburbs around Toronto and who have to drive a lot, have to bring their children, all that sort of thing, are the people who will be overloaded. Do you think the rebate means that it will be completely different, that they do not have to worry, or do you expect people to feel a squeeze when it starts to happen as they start to increase?

PMJT: No, the average family will look better with the discount under what we're doing. But that's not all we're doing, obviously. We invest heavily in public transport, we are investing in cleaner sources of energy, in renewable energy, in clean technology, and we are making historical investments to ensure that jobs in innovation as we move towards lower carbon in front and center.

RB: And yet, the United Nations says most major emitting countries, including Canada, are not on track to meet the Paris targets, no G20 country is in fact. So you're doing it, and you're not having the impact that the United Nations would like to see. They are asking for more urgency. So how do you respond to this? Do you speed up what you're doing? Do you change what you are doing?

PMJT: Countries around the world are looking, with much interest, as Canada is moving forward to put a price on pollution and support ordinary citizens during this transition. This is a model that many people are very, very interested because it is a template that will put us on a path to achieving our Paris goals.

RB: Well, the UN says no. The UN says it will not happen.

PMJT: We will be able to reach those commitments.

RB: How?

PMJT: For having a price on pollution. People will look for ways to innovate, to pollute less, and the positive virtuous cycle that comes along, as people make better inventions and innovations, we will really develop a meaningful path that will effectively reduce our emissions of climate change and improve results.

RB: So you will reach the targets of Paris?

PMJT: We're going to reach our Paris targets, yes.

RB: You mentioned the Conservatives in the provinces. There seems to be a kind of growing movement in the provinces, this happens a lot as you know, and when the liberals are in power federally. The move seems to be embedded, at least in part, by Doug Ford. So, I wonder what you think is so appealing to him about the voters, and if they are the same people who are interested in you.

PMJT: I think there is no doubt that Ontarians, like all Canadians, are concerned about the growth of the economy, worried about their jobs, concerned about the changes they are seeing in the economies around them, around globalization and wanting Make sure there are answers to how they fit into it. This is something I share as a concern for all premiers, including the premier Ford. So let's work together to find ways to boost the economy, help citizens and move forward in a positive way.

RB: Yes, but you could not say that you share the same values.

PMJT: No, but we share similar concerns about how we are going to help the Ontarians, which is why I look forward to sitting down with him to talk about how we move forward in the ways we agree.

Premier Doug Ford of Ontario reads his notes during the first ministerial meeting in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson / Canadian Press)

RB: On Sunday, the Alberta premier announced a reduction in oil production to deal with these historic low prices [for oil] in Alberta. She is also buying wagons to try to find more outlets. You said it was a crisis. How can you not offer help if it is a crisis?

PMJT: Oh, we absolutely offer help and we …

RB: Like what?

PMJT: We recognize, first of all, that Alberta and Albertans are going through a terrible time right now. This price differential is hitting more than anything in recent years, and they need help. The first and foremost thing they need is to get our oil resources to new markets beyond the United States. The fact that Canada, Canadian oil is mostly imprisoned in the US market, means that we are taking a big discount.

If we are to move on to a transition to a low-carbon economy, we will have to pay for this transition, and taking billions of dollars off every year does not make sense. That is why we are so keen to move forward to put our resources in the right markets, markets other than the United States, such as expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline. But we are following the court's decisions on how to do this.

The problem is that for ten years we had a government that ignored the courts, ignored indigenous communities, ignored environmental science, and did not listen to Canadians' concerns about it, and we lost ten years building those projects.

Here's how Trudeau discusses the oil industry:

In an exclusive interview with The National, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is willing to consider helping Premier Rachel Notley fund the purchase of wagons to increase the volume of oil that his province can send to international markets. Trudeau's comments come as tensions escalate between the Prime Minister's Office and the first, who are in Montreal to meet with Trudeau for the first meeting of ministers. 4:28

RB: So that's your long-term solution. But the premier is worried about the short-term and that's why she's doing these things now. What did you offer her? What can you do to, you know, tens of thousands of people fired in this industry right now? Is there anything you can do?

PMJT: We are absolutely looking at the tools we have around the EI. We are looking at the tools we have around income support. We've done several things around this, around situations in the past and we will continue to do so. I am also willing, of course, to sit down with Premier Notley and hear about how the federal government can be a partner to address this in a real way.

RB: But she said that she wanted you to buy wagons, for example.

PMJT: You know, it's something we're happy to see. If this is a proposal that she thinks will make a significant difference, we are happy to see how this works. I mean, we're there to be a partner to help.

RB: It's the answer, not really, we already bought a pipeline for you, what more do you want?

PMJT: Well, no, we still have a lot of work to do to get Line Three. Well, in fact, the expansion of Line Three will come in the third quarter, or the fourth quarter of next year. This will bring a measure of relief and advancement on the right track at Trans Mountain will also remove the pressures. But you know, we are, working forward toward what is the fundamental problem, that is that we have only one market for Alberta and for our prairie oil.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to Cabinet members about an 8.7 percent cut in oil production to help deal with low prices in Edmonton on December 3, 2018. (Jason Franson / Canadian Press)

RB: For TMX, of course you're coming back, as the federal court said, you should do it right now, re-consulting the First Nations, having a better dialogue. What you are willing to do, however, to build it; change the route, better accommodate some of the communities of the first nations? Are you willing to consider these things?

PMJT: Absolutely, this is at the heart of what was the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals. We are a country of respect for the rule of law, respect for the constitution, and the court has given us a plan and said that you need to do a better job of consulting with indigenous communities, and you need to do a better job in part of environmental science in relation to maritime safety and that is exactly what we are doing.

We have a country that has vast natural resources but also citizens concerned about the impact of our development of resources on themselves, their environment, the future of their children. To strike out in a thoughtful way is exactly what the court is planning and what we are going to follow.

RB: But as you have already bought, with my taxes and the taxes of everyone, you have to go ahead. You have to go some way and some way, do not you?

PMJT: Well, we bought an existing pipeline and the option to move forward and we will follow what the court has defined as the way to do it the right way, and make the right decision to know whether or not it is in Canada's national interest and that's it we are doing.

RB: But you believe that's it?

PMJT: I've constantly said that we need our resources for new markets, but we need to do it right. The problem we had for a decade under the previous government was that they were not worried about doing things the right way. They just wanted to try to do things, and what led to it was not doing anything.

At present, the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, for example, goes hand in hand with putting a price on pollution and, in fact, achieving our goals in Paris. Because we know that as we put our oil resources into new markets, we bring in more wealth that can pay for this transition and innovation, while at the same time Alberta has chosen to put an absolute cap on the emissions of oil sands that will allow us to achieve these targets of Paris.

RB: When GM announced its future shutdown of the Oshawa car factory, you said it will help put those workers back on their feet again. But it occurs to me, you know, for this decision, for the people being laid off in Alberta, there's a lot you can really do. So what would you say to those people who are concerned that their jobs are evolving, that jobs are not perhaps the jobs of the future?

PMJT: Well.

RB: What could you do for them?

PMJT: Well, first of all, support for those families and people who are going through one, a terribly troubling time, a terribly difficult time. Oshawa has an extraordinary long history of a hundred years with this factory and it is devastating news that GM has presented and we continue to work with both GM and people to try to see if there is a way forward. But, of course, support for these families is a priority. We also understand that yes, there will be changes in the workforce, changes in consumption habits, changes in the global economy that come with more automation, different supply chains around the world, AI.

I know there will always be a role for manufacturing in Canada, for manufacturing of high value in Canada, new technologies that are coming, or improvements in old technologies. This focus is something we continue to invest in and that is why our investment in skills, university, stem research, bringing women to the workforce, these are the kinds of things we are trying to help Canadians in this transition . .

RB: I understand that, and you're trying to think of jobs for the future, but GM does not want to be here, so what does that tell you?

PMJT: Na verdade, a GM investiu quantias significativas, por exemplo, em uma instalação de pesquisa de engenharia em Markham, onde estão trabalhando em empregos do futuro, eles estão procurando mais carros elétricos e carros autônomos. E o Canadá é parte de como eles pensam sobre o futuro.

RB: Então, por que você não diz para eles pegarem aquela planta gigante que você tem e fazer carros do futuro? Por que eles não consideram …

PMJT: Isso faz parte da conversa em andamento. Obviamente, o presidente Trump e eu nos solidarizamos com isso, pois os EUA estão perdendo quatro ou cinco fábricas. Estamos perdendo uma fábrica e a fábrica de Oshawa é, na verdade, uma das fábricas de alto desempenho no mundo para a GM.

Portanto, há questões reais sobre o que podemos fazer para tentar garantir que estamos dando todo o apoio possível a esses trabalhadores.

A relação entre Trudeau e o presidente dos EUA, Donald Trump, às vezes tem sido irritante. (Justin Tang / Canadian Press)

RB: Por que você duplica os gastos deficitários quando a economia está indo tão bem? Não faz muito sentido para as pessoas.

PMJT: Ao longo dos dez anos do governo anterior, enfrentamos um crescimento teimosamente baixo e baixo número de empregos, e tomamos uma decisão muito deliberada em 2015. Fomos a única parte a investir em canadenses, investindo em infraestrutura, investindo em nossas comunidades , colocando mais dinheiro nos bolsos da classe média, e aqueles que trabalham duro para se juntar a ela, como com o benefício infantil do Canadá, é o caminho para o crescimento da economia.

Havia muitas pessoas que eram céticas. Mas o que realmente vimos é o dinheiro para o Canada Child Benefit, para o aumento do Suplemento de Renda Garantida para nossos idosos mais vulneráveis, investindo em infraestrutura que faz a diferença nas comunidades, que atrai investimentos, fazendo investimentos estratégicos nos negócios. , lowering the barriers to small businesses success, our approach has actually delivered the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years…

RB:  Yes.

PMJT: Has delivered five or six hundred thousand new jobs created over the past three years, and we had the fastest growth in the G7 last year.  Our approach to invest, in order to grow the economy, is working and we're going to continue to do that in responsible ways. Every year, our debt as a proportion of our GDP continues to decline. We're the lowest ratio in the G7.  We're doing very well.

RB:  So you're OK with that broken promise though?

PMJT: We are on a trajectory that demonstrates decreasing deficits and growing economies.

RB:  But is that because politicians thinking on issues evolves, that you had a different thought about what the economy could be versus what you wanted to do with it when you got in office, or is that just because you said, this actually isn't that important the deficit?

PMJT: No, we've always said that fiscal responsibility is extraordinarily important and that's something that we've demonstrated with the declining share of our debt as a piece of our GDP.

RB:  I know, I guess I'm just trying to understand how you went from saying we're going to have this, we're going to return to balance, then to no longer talking about that.  Like what was the thinking for you, where you said to yourself that shouldn't be my focus anymore, we shouldn't be preoccupied with that.

PMJT: The fact that our approach is working, that people are getting, you know, new and better jobs, that our economy is growing, that unemployment is low that Canadians are more confident, not just in their futures, but their kids' futures, means that our approach continues to work, and maintaining that fiscal responsibility, and that fiscal discipline is part and parcel of what we always do.

RB:  OK so that's a reasonable answer, but how should Canadians interpret that then? That it's OK to break a promise if you can show that what you've chosen is a better option?

PMJT: Well I think people understand that circumstances change and, for example, all the cuts that the Conservatives made in that last year of their government, cuts to veteran services, cuts to border security, cuts to a significant range of programs, that weakened Canadians, and showed a phony balance and, just in time for the election, that immediately snapped back into a huge deficit, regardless of what we were going to do, people understand that they want a government that is going to adjust to what the needs of the time are. We are very much realizing that our plan of investing in Canadians, of investing in infrastructure, and in their communities, is working to grow our economy and we're going to keep doing it.

RB:  Did that trip to India do more harm than good?

PMJT: There was a number of things that came out that were very positive about that trip.

RB:  Like what?

PMJT: In terms of investments, in terms of jobs, we're talking about a billion dollars in two-way investment, we're talking about thousands and thousands of jobs across this country created. We saw positive connections between our diaspora communities, but yeah, if I had to redo that trip I would do it very differently.

RB:  Would you wear the outfits?

PMJT: No, I probably would not.  I think that was a clear. I mean I had more suits on that trip than I had outfits, but the pictures of the outfits dominated and certainly it was a lesson learned.

RB:  And the whole attempted murderer showing up at a dinner, I know the report has come out and you're not willing to say much about what was redacted, but it seems to me you at least have a lesson here about how you do these things.

PMJT: Absolutely.  On every trip there are lessons to learn, ways to improve how we do things.  I mean one of the lessons on this is just how important it is that we have a national security committee of parliamentarians that actually come together, all parties together, and weigh in on these issues.

And the professionalism with which they dug into some very complex issues, and the solutions they put forward are significant aide to our government and to all governments moving forward.

RB:  You've said that Canadians should expect the next election to be the nastiest yet. What are you going to do to prevent that?

PMJT: I'm going to continue to demonstrate that positive politics that bring people together, that not engaging in personal attacks, not trying to dumb down and simplify politics so it fits on a bumper sticker or an easy slogan, instead treat Canadians as intelligent, rational citizens who want to be part of the difficult reflections on how we move forward.  The challenge with populism, as we've seen it rise over the past three years particularly, is that it sort of takes citizens for fools.

It says, while we can scare them by you know, going into our darkest fears and making political hay out of it, I'm always going to look for ways to bring people together, to involve them in the solutions, and demonstrate that Canadians deserve better than politicians who play the fear and division card every time they can.

RB:  Do you practice what you preach?

PMJT: I certainly try to, yeah.

RB:  You try to?

PMJT: Yeah absolutely.

RB:  Would you admit that there are times when you don't?

PMJT: I will admit that I have occasioned to be critical in ways.  I always look for ways to be very fierce about distinctions in policy and calling out the politics of division and fear whenever I see it.  I won't make apologies for that, cause I'm going to fight for the democratic principles that we have, and the values of an informed populous.

RB:  I'm thinking back to a moment at the beginning of October when we were talking about the Terri-Lynne McClintic issue with the healing lodge, and inside the House of Commons you called the Conservatives ambulance chasing politicians — and it wasn't just in the heat of the moment.


RB:  Cause then you came right back out and you said it again.  How do you feel about that comment now? Does it reflect who you are as a politician?

PMJT: I think it does because I won't make any apologies for calling out people who use the basest kinds of politics and fears to torque a situation.  I mean they…

RB:  But how did they do that?

PMJT: Know, knowing…

RB:  You've changed the policy.

PMJT: Knowing what we know now.

RB:  You've changed the policy subsequent to that.

PMJT: Oh yes we did.

RB:  Yeah.

PMJT: But they didn't recognize that they had done exactly the same thing 14 times while they were in office.  And the fact that Terri-Lynne McClintic was transferred to a medium security institution under the Conservative government, and she remained in a medium security institution throughout the time that they were criticizing me, showed that they were willing to exploit a horrific tragedy to a family, to a little girl, to try and score cheap political points.

RB:  Or they were trying to call attention to an issue that needed to be changed that you subsequently changed…

PMJT: That they consistently ignored, and we didn't change it by suddenly giving the politicians power to classify a criminal.  We asked…

RB:  No, I understand that.

PMJT: We asked the institution to review its policies to make sure they were right.  That was a change that they very much could have made when, if they were so outraged about it, while they were busy doing it.

But they chose to play a level of politics, when they themselves had engaged in exactly that behaviour, in a way that is cynical that I will not apologize for calling out the politics of cynicism, of fear, of division, of anger, of hatred.

RB:  Yeah but that's not what you did, you called them a name back, ambulance chasing politicians. I just wonder whether you think you should have said something different now.

PMJT: I think it's extremely important to point out when people are playing the basest kinds of politics. And the fact that I am calling out Conservatives on the way they play politics with horrific tragedies to do fundraising, and to try and score cheap points.  I'm willing to do it.

RB:  After you made the decision to change the healing lodge.

PMJT: Listen, their decision to move forward and to make this an issue on the back of a terrible tragedy was something that would require to call them out.

RB: But you changed the policy, like, it worked.

PMJT: What worked was we actually asked Corrections Canada to review their entire policy. We didn't change that one case. We didn't weigh in the way politics…

RB:  No, I understand but it forced you to look at the policy and in that way the opposition was doing its job. Whether you like the language they used is beside the point.

PMJT: I think there's two things.

First of all, yes, it is an opposition's job and responsibility to challenge, to call out, to say you should do things differently, you can do things differently.

RB:  Sure.

PMJT: That's really important.  But if they do it by exacerbating the polarization, the anger, the fear within electorate, we start to walk down a very, very dangerous path.  And I am always going to be very firm and unequivocal about calling out nastiness and negativity to that level in politics.

And if you take…

RB:  Yes.

PMJT: The comment I made and put it up against the kind of ugly rhetoric that they put forward, you'll see that my comment was actually very mild.  But you know, as we often see, there is a habit amongst those particular practitioners of negative politics to have very thin skins when things are turned around on them.

RB:  Have you learned anything about your temperament in this job? I have some observations, but I'll let you go first.

PMJT: Yeah. I'm extremely passionate about standing for what I believe to be the truth and believe in my values.  And I get offended when people rely on falsehoods, and I get irritated when people try and play fast and loose with facts, or ignore facts entirely.  I think that is weakening not just to our governance, but to our institutions and to our democracy.

RB:  You're scrappy.

PMJT:  I can be.

RB:  Would you say?

PMJT: Yeah.

RB:  Yeah.

PMJT: I'm not going to, you know, sit by meekly as people weaken our institutions and our democracy.

RB:  And what is the difference between being scrappy and being full of sunny ways?  Because that's not something you say very much anymore and maybe it's just a reality of governing.  I don't particularly love the expression anyway, but is there a difference between that, or can you be scrappy and still positive?

PMJT: I think, absolutely.

RB:  Yeah.

PMJT: I think I can and I think I do.  I mean, I always look for ways to bring people together.  I look for ways to solve solutions. I look for ways [to] solve problems, I look for ways to listen to people and make sure we are consulting and engaging in thoughtful ways.  Now it usually requires me to give a longer answer to a complex question than someone who's just looking for an easy populist answer, but I'm always going to be ready to argue a given point.

RB: Do you think though that you're a better politician than the Conservatives?  I mean it seems that to me that you're sort of putting yourself on a different level than them and I wonder if that's not a little dismissive of the people who believe the things they're saying, because there's a lot of them.

PMJT: I'm always willing to have a debate on the facts, to look at counter-proposals.  But what we're not seeing from the opposition, whether it's on climate or even on economic policy is much of a plan, or an explanation of how they would do things differently. So we're not actually debating on the substance of what we're doing, they tend to go to name calling and a challenge around, you know, personal attacks rather than actually debating the substance of what we're putting forward.

RB:  Do you think are a patient person?

PMJT: It depends on the context.  If I'm spending time with a Canadian who has questions about what we're doing, I have a tremendous amount of patience.  If I'm in a situation where I'm engaging with someone who should know better and chooses to believe that the earth is flat, or that climate change is not man made, then I will be a little more impatient because I feel that is a choice that they're making that is impacting negatively on our ability to come together and actually solve the big problems we're facing.

RB:  So you probably don't have good chats with the president then?

PMJT: No, I've had excellent conversations with…

RB: You must be impatient with him though.

PMJT: I've had good conversations with the president.

RB: Do you think that sometimes you are perceived as trivial or superficial?  I'll give you examples. The outfits in India certainly gave that perception. The tweet on the weekend to Trevor Noah about the $50 million dollars.

PMJT:  Yeah but see, but that's an interesting one, because of course when you make a spending decision like that, there's weeks of reflection on whether or not this is the right thing to do.  Because our political opponents don't particularly like the way we announced it, they find themselves opposed to investing money in some of the most vulnerable kids around the world.

RB: No, I don't know that they're opposed to that.  I think they're opposed to the trivial nature in which it was announced.  Like why do you have to…

PMJT: Would they prefer I have a big novelty cheque like the Conservatives used to do?

RB:  No, but tagging a celebrity, what's the benefit of that as prime minister?

PMJT: Well one of the challenges is if we were to put out a press conference in the Ottawa press theatre that says 'we're sending $50 million dollars to education cannot wait to invest in the most impoverished and vulnerable kids in the world,' that might not have actually reached as much of an audience as for example than [a] celebrity engaged down in South Africa.

RB: Yeah, I would argue you stepped on your own message though by doing that.

PMJT: Well, I think a lot more people know that Canada is actually stepping up and helping vulnerable people around the world.  And there are always lessons to be learned about this, but I'm not going to make apologies for actually doing it and for making sure that we're looking for different ways of communicating that message.

RB: OK, so I'll leave this part on this.  Do you ever worry that brand Trudeau… I was in New York last week and I wandered into a store and there was cups with your name on it, and socks, and all sorts of things.  It was very strange to be in New York and all that stuff is there.

I'm sure it's stranger for you. Do you ever worry that brand Trudeau sort of overtakes what you're trying to say and do, which I think to you is more important?

PMJT: I think what we're seeing around interest in Canada on the world stage doesn't have as much to do with me as it does to do with what Canadians have been doing on the world stage for years and for generations.  Yes, there's a moment where for all sorts of different reasons, including, you know, social media skills, that Canada is being noticed a little bit more, but the fact that is a positive aspirational impact on so many people around the world…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sports fancy socks during his interview with Rosemary Barton on Dec. 6, 2018. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

RB:  But it's your face attached to it.

PMJT: Is due to our values.

RB:  It's not the, the flag, or it's not, you know, anybody else.

PMJT:  You know, there's a mix of things associated with it and if we can do a better job of highlighting what Canada is doing on the world stage, and how what we're doing at home with things like the, the Canada Child Benefit that's making such a big difference. then people will look and say, 'OK, they've got a solution to some of the really sticky problems that we're facing all around the world.'

RB: Thank you, thank you for your time.

PMJT: Thank you very much Rosie.


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