Listen up Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Hunt: Justin Trudeau is #politiciangoals.
The recently-elected Canadian Prime Minister and leader of the country’s Liberal Party has reinforced the stereotype that Canada is the nicest place on Earth. Son of late former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, Justin started his adult life studying English Literature, after which he became a teacher. He then did a Masters degree in Environmental Geography, and has also acted in a TV mini-series. An encouraging lesson that we don’t have to have just one path!
His first political position came in 2009 as the Liberal Party’s shadow minister for Youth and Multiculturalism, before becoming the minister for Citizenship and Immigration, and then for Secondary Education and Youth and Amateur Sport. After winning the Leadership of the Party in 2013, he led the Liberals to an unprecedentedly successful victory in the 2015 elections last November, taking his Party from 36 to 184 seats.
Throughout his political career, Trudeau has been a tireless campaigner for various causes: winter sports safety, youth programs, the environment, conflict resolution, ethnic inclusion, transparency of government. The media has fallen head over heels for Justin. He’s personable, excited and engaging. His personal page on the Liberal Party website is an impassioned love letter to his family and his country, and hugely readable.
So he’s an all-round bae. But why is he my choice for this month’s Feminist in Focus?
At a time when it’s seemingly still OK for women to be under-represented in politics (beautifully demonstated by ElleUK’s #MoreWomen initiative, who created a video showing what politics looks like with the men taken out), when it’s seemingly still OK for members of the UK government to undermine women’s issues, Trudeau is a shining beacon for what modern politics could and should be: an equal forum.
Trudeau is a feminist, and “proud to be a feminist”. His Party is “unequivocal in its defence of women’s rights.” Famously (and a sad indictment of the gender standings of global politics that it has to be news-worthy), when Trudeau was elected, he chose a gender-equal cabinet: half of his cabinet are women, the other half men. When asked by a reporter why he thought this was important, he replied, “Because it’s 2015.” YES, JUSTIN!
On a large scale, he’s urged global players in politics and business to embrace feminism as move forward in their decision-making, and at the World Economic Forum in January, he spoke of how, “We shouldn’t be afraid to use the word feminist. Men and women should use it to describe themselves whenever they want […] Men have to be a big part of this conversation.”
It’s this inclusion of men into the feminism debate that makes me admire Trudeau so much. Female feminists repeatedly have to put up with accusations of misandry, and we repeatedly feel the need to say, “This is for men too!” To have someone on such a platform to share this message is a huge win for gender equality. Citing his wife as a huge feminist influence, he has spoken about how they raise not only their daughter as an empowered feminist, but how they can introduce the topic of feminism to their sons, so that “they grow up feminists like their dad” and “demand the shift” towards total gender equality.
So, one way ticket to Canada, anyone?
Until next month,