Justin Trudeau takes the 60-second challenge

The Prime Minister took our rapid-fire questions just before the Maclean’s Town Hall

Ahead of the Maclean’s Town Hall with Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, the Prime Minister agreed to take our 60-second challenge. It was all fun and games—and a nod and a wink, too.

We parsed some of his answers. Here’s four interesting things to come from them:

1. The first lines of poetry that came to Trudeau’s mind were from Cyrano De Bergerac’s “Non, merci!” soliloque, from the second act of Edmond Rostand’s play. The romantic hero is responding to Le Bret, his confidant, who tells him that he worries that Cyrano’s principles will get in the way of his career goals, as either a poet or a musketeer. The iconic lines are Cyrano’s reaffirmation of those principles, listing a series of dismal rhetorical options in a sarcastic tone (“Dine each day on a toad?”) and rejecting them out of hand (“Non, merci!”).

In full, the lines are:

Non, merci ! non, merci ! non, merci ! Mais… chanter,
Rêver, rire, passer, être seul, être libre,
Avoir l’œil qui regarde bien, la voix qui vibre,
Mettre, quand il vous plaît, son feutre de travers,
Pour un oui, pour un non, se battre, – ou faire un vers !

Translated, it means:

No, thank you! But… to sing,
To dream, to laugh, to move on, to be free, on my own
To have a keen eye and a voice of strong tone,
Wear my hat awry as I prefer,
For no reason at all engage in combat or pen a verse!

2.  Trudeau’s favourite French word is “topinambour,” which is French for “Jerusalem artichoke.”

3.  The Prime Minister refuses to choose between British Columbia and Nova Scotia, no doubt to avoid roiling any province. But his careful answer is surprising given the years he spent living in B.C., studying at the University of British Columbia, and teaching at various schools (and ski resorts) there.

4. Justin Trudeau revealed that his first pet was named Smokey, while also noting the street he lived on was Sussex. Put the two together.

trudeau sussex

More serious questions to come this Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. ET, from journalists at Maclean’s, Chatelaine and L’actualite—and from Canadians.

Follow this link if you have a question you think we should ask the Prime Minister. You can also tweet it using the hashtag #MacTownHall.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.