Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the “biggest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity,” for him will be to “stay connected with people.”
In and end-of-year interview with Global News, airing Christmas Day, Trudeau not only addressed the concerns of Canadians but also took questions directly from them.
A group of about 60 people were on hand in Vancouver to hear the prime minister’s responses to questions selected from more than 6,000 submissions on Facebook.
“Because with the Ottawa bubble, with how important Parliament is to people who sit in Parliament all the time, you can easily get disconnected from what’s really important in people’s lives and staying open to taking their questions, to listening to people, to talking with them about a broad range of issues that matter to them,” he told Global National anchor Dawna Friesen.
Trudeau did discuss a “broad range of issues” — from national security and the fight against the so-called Islamic State to refugees and helping Canadians find jobs — and answered questions from Canadians from the ages of 13 to 92.
Morgan Reynolds, 13, wanted the prime minister to explain why he sided with former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives when it came to the controversial anti-terror legislation known as Bill C-51 and how the PM planned to deal with the legislation know that he’s in office.
“It’s important that we do things to keep people safe, but it’s also important that we bring in things to protect our rights and freedoms at the same time,” he told Reynolds.
“We’re bringing in oversight by parliamentarians so that we can make sure that the powers that our agencies and police have are actually properly used to defend Canadian security and not limit our rights and freedoms.
“We’re getting that balance right and the fear mongering, that happened on the left and on the right through the campaign, was actually what was rejected by Canadians broadly across the country and it’s to our collective credit.”
He told Mona Allister, who turned 92 the day of the interview, Dec. 17, his government is committed to putting forward a “very strong mental health strategy [and] brain health strategy.”
Allister was married to a Second World War veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese.
“Little was known at the time about the severity of post-traumatic stress [disorder], but today they… know a lot more about it. Today, we have service men and women returning from the battlegrounds who have risked their lives to keep us safe here in Canada, only to face another battle when they return,” she said. “They are damaged goods and are reaching for help with no avail. What is the Liberal government planning to do to help these heroes?”
Trudeau recounted how his mother, Margaret Trudeau, lived with mental health issues and is now an advocate to eliminate the stigmas surrounding mental health.
When it comes to PTSD, the prime minister said studies show addressing the condition “quickly and early after people return” from a tour of duty.
“Giving them the proper support, finding the professionals to support them will make a huge difference in not just the rest of their lives, but their family.
“We’re still losing too many service men and women to suicides, to PTSD, and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support them and honour their service and sacrifice that they put forward for their country.”
© 2015 Shaw Media