Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging Canadians to stand together as they reflect on the year gone by and look ahead to the new year.
In his annual Christmas message, Trudeau said the winter season is about making a positive difference in the lives of others, especially those who may be suffering or need a bit of extra help.
He highlighted the sacrifices of Canadian military families who have loved ones stationed abroad, some of whom he saw over the weekend during a holiday trip to visit troops deployed in Mali, along with Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
“This season is about bringing light to the people around us,” Trudeau said in his message.
“This season, and on into the new year, let’s stand together and keep building a better future for all of us.”
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Trudeau also used the message to tout the programs his government has put in place and billed as key measures to help those in the middle class.
Among them, he pointed to the Canada Child Benefit and the national housing strategy.
He also used the message to stress the value of diversity, saying Canadians find strength in their differences and celebrate the things they have in common.
The focus on diversity comes after the government faced more than a year of questions over the influx of migrants crossing the border from the U.S. at unofficial checkpoints in order to try to claim asylum.
A poll conducted over the summer suggested roughly 60 per cent of Canadians think the influx constitutes a “crisis.”
Trudeau has rejected many of the questions put to him by the Opposition and critics about how his government is handling the situation and accused a Quebec heckler of “racism” when she confronted him at a public appearance to demand the government give Quebec money for handling the migrants.
In his message on Monday, Trudeau said people need to take care of each other.
“That’s what Christmas, and Canada, is all about,” he said.
— With files from The Canadian Press