Justin Trudeau visits UW
Author: Amy Rose Gofton
On Wednesday, September 10th at 2 pm, Justin Trudeau was on campus in the SLC to give a speech and host a Q&A session. Students packed the Great Hall, pulling up chairs and politely cramming in as close to the stage as allowed. Cameras were set up and cell phones came out to take video and pictures.
Trudeau began his speech by sharing his views on young people’s involvement in politics. He stated that students are not disinterested, as is often said, and used the packed Great Hall as a representation of student interest in politics. He referred to university students as the “Class of 2015” voters, since many of us will be voting in a federal election for the very first time. Trudeau also spoke about the environment and the economy, telling students they must pressure political leaders into thinking long-term rather than short term. He also touched on the need to minimize divisions in politics in order to govern the whole. He rejected partisan politics and the playing of regions and demographics off each-other in order to get votes, while subtly accusing the Conservatives of doing so.
A Q&A session followed the short speech. UW students who raised their hands and were picked were able to freely ask any question they wished—a practice which is quickly disappearing in an age where many political appearances are scripted right down to the number of hands that will be shaken. Students questioned Justin Trudeau on everything from the gap between rich and poor, childcare, tuition rates, terrorism, government surveillance, pipelines and electoral reform.
Trudeau rejected the idea of eliminating or minimizing tuition rates, saying instead the student loan and bursary system needs to be overhauled. He rejected the option of electoral reform through a Proportional Representation system, voicing support for Preferential Balloting instead, saying it would reduce partisanship. Trudeau also voiced support for a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine, a statement which caused the crowd of the students to clap and cheer.
When asked a question about the legalization of marijuana, Trudeau paused and sat down for a moment before answering. The current methods of control are not “protecting our kids,” he said, stating that in Canada it is relatively easy for minors to obtain the drug. Trudeau implied that through legalization and control marijuana could more easily be kept out of the hands of minors. Incidentally, buttons reading Legalize It, issued by the Young Liberals of Canada, were given out at the event.
Near the end of the Q&A, Trudeau accused the Conservatives of mismanaging the economy, saying that “Conservatives always go into a deficit” and “provide spectacularly bad government.” For someone who consistently rejects partisan politics, Justin Trudeau managed to slip an awful lot of jabs at the Conservatives into his speech, as well as the Q&A.