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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wave to supporters at the Palais des Congres in Montreal after claiming victory in the election. CNS photo/Carlo Allegri, Reuters

Editorial: Reflect ... then act

  • October 30, 2019

It was a humbled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who indulged the media after his Liberal Party was returned grudgingly to Ottawa with a minority government.

The virtue of humility, as Pope Francis reminds us, is the bedrock of character. It should be widely abundant across society yet often is dismally lacking, particularly among political leaders and especially at election time.  So if one outcome of the Oct. 21 vote is less arrogance in Ottawa, then strike up a small victory for Canadians.

Trudeau acknowledged that voters “gave me a lot to think about” and that he heard their message “to work together, to listen to each other, to figure out a way to move forward that isn’t as divisive.” He promised to “reflect” on all of this. Then he made this promise:

“It’s extremely important that the government works for all Canadians, as I have endeavoured to do over the past years and as I will do even more now, deliberately,” he pledged.

For as long as this minority Parliament survives, we intend to hold him to that promise — to work for all Canadians. Doing so would mark a notable reversal for a prime minister who typically has been reluctant — sometimes even loathe — to acknowledge Canadians who don’t buy what he’s selling.

If the prime minister truly intends to respect all Canadians he could start by listening to the majority of them who want to see some type of legislation to regulate abortion, and maybe he would even review current Liberal party policy that rejects candidates who, for religious or other reasons, are pro-life. 

Of course, he would also hear the pleas of thousands of Canadians to end the discrimination around the Canada Summer Jobs program which denies grants to many employers whose opinions on protecting life in the womb conflict with the prime minister’s. And he would take another look at a foreign-aid policy that pushes a pro-abortion agenda at, we fear, the expense of suffering populations in poor nations which value life above all else.

Then there are the interconnected issues of religious and conscience rights. For Canada to come together and overcome the divisiveness so evident during the campaign and which the prime minister so rightly condemns, he needs to acknowledge the anxiety felt by many Canadians whose rights are being trampled.

A more contrite and humble prime minister would hear protests across the country which oppose the discriminatory laws in Quebec which ban most public workers from wearing religious symbols on the job. And he would become an advocate for health-care workers who, for reasons of religion or conscience, are being marginalized simply because they reject euthanasia. 

It is commendable that the prime minister intends to reflect on his missteps and become a better listener. But he needs to reflect, listen and, ultimately, in a spirit of humility, act accordingly.

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