Feb 2, 2017
Recently, the Prime Minister stopped by our city to hold a quick Q & A with the general public. He spoke at my university and as such, university students had the first chance to get early admission to the event. I had left work a little bit early to get to the university. I grabbed a Carl’s Jr burger (which greatly upset my stomach) and ate in the Computer Science club room watching some people play fighting games and Magic. Closer to the event starting, my SO and I walked over to the gym where the Q & A was being held. The line was pretty long and my SO decided he didn’t want to wait and go to class instead. I stayed in the line.
The wait was pretty long. The doors were to open at 6:00PM for people with early admission and 6:30PM for the rest of the public. The event was rumored to start at 7:00PM but wasn’t confirmed. I got a seat around 6:30PM and sat there until past 8:00PM waiting for the Prime Minister to appear. There was a lot of people there, mainly university students but there were a lot of other different people there too. Even within the university students, there was a lot of diversity. The guy I was waiting beside in the line was a European dude with a thick French accent and on my other side was an Indian dude and his white friend chatting up a storm about parties and occasionally topics they wanted to hear at the event.
I did not really go to the event with a plan. There wasn’t much that I was expecting but I couldn’t turn down seeing the Prime Minister in the flesh and possibly learn a little more about what exactly he was doing for our country. I had a sneaking suspicion that the whole thing was just a PR stunt bu considering the current political climate of where I live, the conversations were bound to be interesting.
By the time Trudeau came out, the reaction was mixed. I heard a lot of booing and a lot of cheering. I was struck immediately with how much of a regular person he looked like. He was dressed pretty casually with a button down shirt and jeans. I’m a little ashamed for thinking this but it was the first time I thought, “Wow, now I can understand why people think Trudeau is handsome.”
Enough about that my shallow thoughts (fun fact, when the event was being aired online, people could hear girls talking in the background about how good Trudeau’s hair was).
The first “question” was pretty dry. A woman in the front told her life story as a potential Olympic athlete who later became disabled. She asked Trudeau to listen to her proposal for ways to assist those with disabilities. A worthy cause and a brave woman but a boring question that didn’t provide a lot for Trudeau to respond to.
Later on in the night, a girl to the side identified herself as a feminist. This piqued my interest as I think of myself as a feminist as well. I anticipated a question about the transgender washroom debate or the wage gap but instead she asked for Trudeau’s opinion on Trump’s comments against women. I was immediately disappointed. Of all the questions to ask the Prime Minister (and not limited to feminism), this had to be asked?
The next question that stood out in my mind was no better. One person pointed out that there was no incentive to get higher education and enter a high paying field if they were swamped in debt due to schooling and had to pay higher taxes on top of that. This was another disappointing question. If you’re making a lot of money, your debt will get paid off extremely quickly. In Canada, you do not pay a single percentage of your entire income. There are different tax brackets and for the first tax bracket, you are taxed a certain percentage. If you pass that first tax bracket, anything else you make additionally is taxed at a different percentage. Yes, you do pay more taxes but you still come out with more money in the end than if you weren’t in a high paying profession.
The rest of the questions were not as hard hitting as I thought they would be and I wasn’t satisfied with many of Trudeau’s answers. Overall, I feel like he gave some good examples of how he is improving the country. However, those examples never really seemed to answer the question that was being asked. The only direct answer he gave was when he was asked about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (FYI, he believes in a two start solution). At times, he did “um” and “uh”-d his way through some of the questions.
He got some flack from a pro-oil sands group near the end. They were angry at the idea of oil sands being phased out. I get their fear. I understand their reliance on the oil sands. I do not agree that the oil sands are the end all be all that this province has. Obviously, this pushed buttons with the Prime Minister. He had already approved oil pipelines that would help out the oil sands industry and was still being accused of being anti-oil and anti-Albertan. He became extremely passionate with his answer and the crowd did not stop cheering and booing throughout his entire monologue.
Honestly, it was a bit of spectacle but I don’t regret going. I think this sort of dialogue is important and it’s good for people to have a chance to voice their opinions and concerns. Obviously, some people could have been a tad more respectful (there were a couple of hecklers who shouted over everyone and it was hard to understand what people with microphones were saying) and some people felt like their questions weren’t fully answered (I don’t think they were either). It’s not perfect but hopefully Trudeau notes the things that are being said to him during this campaign.
The only thing I regret is not bringing my water bottle with me. I was thirsty for a good straight four hours.