By Associate Editor Natalie Gates
When Justin Trudeau walked into the October 25 Young Worker’s Summit in Ottawa, expecting the usual cheers, photo-ops, and admiration, he was met with something else entirely.
While some in attendance yelled angrily that he is “acting like Harper”, a number of people stood and turned their backs to Trudeau. Trudeau responded, “It is a little bit frustrating for me to come in, sit down and look forward to hearing from you, talking with you, and seeing a room full of people who are standing in a way that shows they’re not listening to me, that you don’t want to engage.”
But they were just giving JT, the self-appointed Minister for Youth, a taste of his own medicine. This was their way of engaging, by demonstrating that Trudeau has turned his back on us. He shows up but doesn’t face us directly.
After being swept to the side by the Harper government for a decade, young people are eager to finally see real change from the Liberals—especially since they have just celebrated their one-year anniversary in power. But the “changes” so far haven’t been enough.
The Liberals have still failed to deliver on their campaign promise to make post-secondary education more affordable, and the possibility that Trudeau will go back on his commitment to reduce Canada’s emissions looms in the forefront.
Trudeau himself says he is committed to “engaging with [us], listening to [us], working hard on understanding.” So it is beyond time for us to show the government what we want.
The day before the summit, the Liberal government’s contradictory consideration of the Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline was at the centre of another protest, where more than 200 people marched on Parliament Hill to demand Trudeau reject any new oilsands infrastructure.
Obviously, these protests reflect a growing discontent over a lack of Liberal action—on issues from affordable education and jobs for young Canadians to Indigenous rights and climate change. It also alludes to more protests to come.
This isn’t to say the Liberals have failed youth on all accounts yet; the creation of the PM’s Youth Council and investments into things like expanding the Youth Employment Strategy provide a glimmer of hope. But we need to look past that glimmer and shoot for more. One year in is the perfect time to showcase dissatisfaction. Justin, please give us a reason to not turn our backs to you. If you can do that, then maybe the Trudeaumania you pride yourself on will hold some merit.
On page 8 we have an in-depth piece on government accountability. Check it out and let us know what you think of the Liberal’s progress so far. How will you be holding the government accountable?
Now in her fourth and final year of a political studies major and journalism minor, Natalie has been on The Nav team for about two years. When she’s not brainstorming stories or studying, she’s usually on her yoga mat, going for a hike, listening to Springsteen, or fantasizing about what to cook for dinner.