Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: 'We have an awful lot of work to do'

For the record: The Prime Minister meets the press at Rideau Hall

Justin Trudeau:   Merci d’être ici aujourd’hui, tout le monde.  C’est un grand plaisir pour moi de présenter un Conseil de ministres qui ressemble énormément au Canada. 

It’s an incredible pleasure for me to be here today before you to present to Canada a cabinet that looks like Canada.  We have – (applause) – we have an awful lot of work to do in the coming weeks, months and years, but I know that Canadians expected us to come together and put forward a team that is going to be able to deliver on the change, on the ambitious plan for this country that the Liberal Party ran on, and that’s exactly what we are going to deliver.

Les Canadiens ont eu des grandes attentes pour nous, et je suis très content de démontrer que nous avons l’équipe extraordinaire pour livrer sur les valeurs et le plan que les Canadiens s’attendent de ce gouvernement. 

Question:    Hi.  Julie Van Dusen, CBC.  We’ve seen – congratulations, first of all.  And we’ve seen some visible changes in your approach, but could you just explain to us, if you had a message to Canadians, what kind of government are you hoping to offer them?  How will it be different?

Trudeau:    Well, I think one of the first things is that we’re a government that wants to earn Canadians’ trusts by demonstrating that we trust Canadians.  Openness and transparency isn’t just about trust, though.  It’s also very much about better policy-making, better decisions.  When media can do their jobs of holding us to account and asking tough questions, when disclosure and access to information is just the way Parliament behaves, when open data and evidence-based policy is at the heart of policy-making and government’s decisions, you get the kind of government that Canadians expect and deserve.  And that’s what we’re going to be working very, very hard to deliver.

Question:  And a second quick question.  You’re making history today in the sense that you’re the first Canadian Prime Minister whose father was a Prime Minister.  And many people in the crowd mentioned your father, and I’m just wondering to you have any thoughts to share with us?

Trudeau:  Obviously, I think of my father and how pleased he must be that Canada so firmly came together around an ambitious vision for the country that we presented.  But my thoughts today — sorry, Dad — aren’t mostly on him.  They’re very much on my own kids and on the kids across this country that we are going to work very, very hard to ensure they have a better future.  I am forward-looking and that’s what we’re going to do.  (Applause.)

Question:     Mr. Trudeau, (inaudible) News.  First of all, your cabinet, you said, looks a lot like Canada.  I understand one of the priorities for you was to have a cabinet that was gender balanced.  Why was that so important to you?

Trudeau:  Because it’s 2015.  Canadians elected extraordinary members of parliament from across the country, and I am glad to have been able to highlight a few of them in this cabinet here with me today.  However, there are an awful lot of extraordinary Canadians who are not in this cabinet behind me who are also going to be strong voices for their community and their country because one of the things that I am committed to is ensuring that all parliamentarians, all 307 of them who aren’t here with us today, are able to be strong voices for their communities, to push their issues and to make sure that the diversity that makes this Canada, this country so strong is the diversity of views that carry us forward.

Question:     Last week, you were asked for an update on resettling the 25,000 Syrian refugees that you promised.  You said last week that you would have more to say after you were sworn in.  Well, you’ve been sworn in. (Laughter.)  Can you give us an update on what you’re doing to get 25,000 refugees here to Canada?

Trudeau:   Well, I just took a big step towards it by appointing the kind of cabinet that’s going to get things done.  This is going to be a period of slight adjustment for a number of people in the political world in Canada because government by cabinet is back.  We are going to sit down around the cabinet table and talk about the solutions that need to put forward, what is in the best interests of Canadians and how we’re going to deliver on the promises that Canadians, quite rightly, expect us to keep.  We’re going to do it responsibly and properly, but we are going to keep the promises we made to Canadians to offer them the kind of country that we know we deserve.

Question:    Limin Zhou, NTD TV.  Mr. Trudeau, you’re heading to APEC meeting and will meet with Asian leaders, including Chinese leaders.  As Canada does trade with China, we also know there’s grave human rights concerns in that country.  For example, the recent arrest of the human rights lawyers, the torture and killing of Falun Gong practitioners, and the list goes on.  I wanted to ask you are you going to stand up for Canadian values in raising the human rights issue with the Chinese counterpart and show Canadians that in doing trade we’re not going to sacrifice human rights?

Trudeau: Canadians expect of their government to engage in protecting Canada’s national interests in a positive and constructive way on the world stage, and yes, that means promoting our values and standing up for human rights, and it also means ensuring that we can be a productive voice on the world stage to improve relations, to improve economic growth and opportunity for all, but also to have frank and open conversations with our friends and trading partners.  And Canada will continue always to be a strong and positive voice on the world stage, building the kind of future, not just for Canadians, but for everyone on this planet that we know people expect.

Question:   Do you think – do you think in Canada’s foreign policy with China, Canada can advance a human rights agenda to help that country?

Trudeau:   Absolutely.  I think Canada has an awful lot to offer to many countries around the world, whether it’s better governance, whether it’s the idea that diversity is a source of strength, not a source of weakness.  There is a positive engagement firmly based on our values that we know are not just Canadian values, but in most cases, are universally shared values across the world, that we have work to do and we will do that work.

Question:    Daniel Thibeault, Radio-Canada.  M. Trudeau, avec vos ministres derrière vous, avec cette cérémonie ce matin qui fait de vous maintenant un nouveau gouvernement, quelle sorte de message vous voulez envoyer aux Canadiens?  Qu’est-ce que vous voudriez qu’ils retiennent de ce qui est derrière vous aujourd’hui?

Trudeau:  Bien, qu’on forme un gouvernement qui met la confiance au centre de ses actions.  Nous voulons mériter la confiance des Canadiens, et pour cela, nous allons démontrer que nous avons confiance dans les Canadiens.  D’être ouverts et transparents dans nos actions, de faire des politiques basées sur les données, sur les faits, de comprendre qu’on se doit d’être devable devant les médias, devant les Canadiens à tout bout de champ c’est une priorité pour moi.  Et je pense que c’est le changement que les Canadiens ont demandé dans ces élections.

Question:  Maintenant vous allez avoir votre première rencontre du Conseil des ministres cet après-midi.  Vous allez établir, je présume, une série de priorités.  Qu’est-ce que vous voulez? Quelles sont vos priorités?  Qu’est-ce que vous voulez accomplir d’ici le 31 décembre 2015?

Trudeau:    Bien, une des – une des premières discussions qu’on va avoir ça va être sur le retour du Parlement.  Moi, j’ai – j’aimerais bien qu’on ramène Parlement dans les premières journées du mois de décembre, mais ça sera une discussion que nous allons avoir en cabinet pour confirmer la date. 

Mais comme j’ai dit tout au long de la campagne, une des nos premières priorités – notre première priorité va être de baisser les impôts pour la classe moyenne en demandant aux mieux nantis, au un pour cent des plus riches d’en faire un petit peu plus.  Et c’est ce que nous allons présenter comme premier projet de loi.

Question:    Mr. Trudeau, Brian Fraser on behalf CKDJ 107.9, and it’s no secret that a lot of students around the country go into tremendous amounts of debt coming out of their post-secondary education.  I was wondering, now that you’ve been sworn in, if you have any plans to maybe reduce the load that those students have to bear.

Trudeau:  We know that the future of our country is deeply wrapped up in a positive future for our young people.  Access to post-secondary education is going to be essential for economic growth in this country.  And that’s why we put forward a strong plan to increase the Canada student grants and loans system to make sure that young people have better access to post-secondary education, including for indigenous Canadians who see tremendous barriers.  But also, we have made a commitment that loans don’t need to be paid back by students until such a time as they are making $25,000 a year in salary, in revenue.  That’s the kind of thing that pushes off the kinds of debts that are crippling our young people.

Question:    Thank you and congratulations.

Trudeau:                 Thank you.

Question: Bonjour, M. Trudeau.  Mélanie Marquis de la Presse canadienne.  Est-ce que ça vous étonne d’entendre des gens reprocher que vous ayez en quelque sorte écarté des hommes pour atteindre la parité au cabinet?

Trudeau:    Vous savez, on est en 2015 aujourd’hui.  Je crois que d’avoir un cabinet qui est le reflet du Canada dans toute sa magnifique diversité ça a été une priorité pour moi.  Mais comme vous savez aussi, les Canadiens ont envoyé à la Chambre des communes des gens extraordinaires pour le Parti libéral et nous reconnaissons que tous les parlementaires vont avoir un rôle important à jouer pour s’assurer que les vues, les préoccupations, les priorités des Canadiens soient bien entendues dans ce Parlement, soit bien écoutées par ce gouvernement et qu’on livre le genre de gouvernement dont les Canadiens s’attendent. 

Question:  Thanks.  Mr. Trudeau, in a couple of weeks, you’ll be heading to Paris where you’re going to be asked to commit to serious goals on reducing carbon emissions here in Canada, but you’ve not committed to any sort of plan on the federal level to do so.  You said you were going to get the provinces onboard.  Optimistically, do you think that’s even possible to actually get the provinces to adapt a plan that’s going to be enough to meet the pretty serious targets that you’re going to be asked to commit to?

Trudeau:   Canadians expect their government to be responsible around climate change and addressing the impacts to the environment that we are facing around the world right now.  Canada is going to be a strong and positive actor on the world stage, including in Paris at COP 21.  That’s why we have a very strong Minister, not just of the Environment, but Minister of the Environment and Climate Change who will be at the heart of this – this discussion.  And she’s of course an Ottawa girl.  We can see – see the support for her here.  But the fact is that we have an amazing team of strong cabinet members who will lean in with the kind of engagement, both with the provinces and municipalities and countries around the world to demonstrate that Canada is doing its part to address climate change impacts.

Merci beaucoup, tout le monde.  Thank you very, very much.

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