pierre trudeau

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Justin Trudeau 'disengaged' on nuclear weapons file
Canada has voted against a UN recommendation to launch negotiations aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons. Critics say Justin Trudeau has not “engaged” in the issue.

At the United Nations in late October 123 countries voted in favour of a recommendation endorsing the launch of negotiations aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons. Canada voted no. Douglas Roche, this country’s former Ambassador for Disarmament at the UN, is clearly piqued. “The government turned its back on an important nuclear disarmament initiative,” he says, “and sided with the nuclear weapons states that want to keep and modernize their nuclear arsenals for the rest of the 21st century.”

Roche adds, “the blame for the Canadian diplomatic debacle belongs squarely on the desk of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose office won’t even answer letters or phone calls from high-ranking persons trying to alert him to the need for Canadian action.” Roche says that Trudeau seems “disengaged” on nuclear arms control and that his government has undermined the nuclear disarmament work championed by his father Pierre Trudeau.

Therein lays an irony. During the waning months of his time in office in 1983, Pierre Trudeau engaged in shuttle diplomacy featuring stops in Moscow, Washington and the capitals of other nuclear powers. He urged them to call a halt to the nuclear arms race. No such diplomacy has brought to bear by Justin Trudeau, whose sunny ways rhetoric is beginning to wear thin.

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On this day, in 1972, Pierre Trudeau was sworn-in as Prime Minister of Canada (the second of four terms) in Rideau Hall, Ottawa. A little less than 43 years, later, his first-born son, Justin Trudeau, was himself sworn-in as the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada in Rideau Hall.

In this picture, taken in 1973, Prime Minister Trudeau is carrying Justin to Rideau Hall. Little did he know then, that his son would walk, quite literally, in his footsteps.

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This famous moment came up during lunch today at work and I had to share it with everyone. The response, “just watch me” from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau has become lore in Canada but there is more to this particular interview than meets the eye. Notice how Trudeau is not reciting pre-written talking points. He is actually having a conversation with the reporter, and the reporter is actually having a conversation with Trudeau.

The line lasts seconds. But this seven minute exchange between the Prime Minister and a journalist contains the thoughts of the government, the concerns of the citizens and the overall approach of Trudeau himself. It is not a stage for Trudeau to sell a particular angel to Canadians. It is not a gotcha moment for the reporter (although the “just watch me” line did make headlines across the country). It was an exchange. And one that Canadians do not have the benefit of getting from politicians today.

Yes, I think the society must take every means at its disposal to defend itself against the emergence of a parallel power which defies the elected power in this country and I think that goes to any distance. So long as there is a power in here which is challenging the elected representative of the people I think that power must be stopped and I think it’s only, I repeat, weak-kneed bleeding hearts who are afraid to take these measures.