Justin Trudeau: "You can't just bring (refugees) over. You have to help them on a path towards being successful"
Canadian Prime Minister spoke to CNN's Christiane Amanpour
When Justin Trudeau swept to power last year amid a wave of positive change and optimism, he promised to bring Canada back to the global stage.
“Withdrawing support from globalization,” the Prime Minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour ahead of his debut speech to the UN General Assembly, “is taking us in the wrong direction.”
He added, “And what we’re doing in Canada is very much focused on showing inclusive growth, diversity, opportunities for everyone is a path forward, and I’m finding a lot of reflection of the desire for that on the world stage.”
Ten months into his tenure, Trudeau is still remarkably popular, with one recent Nanos Research poll showing that 69% of respondents agreed he had the qualities of a good political leader.
Last February his center-left government took in 25,000 Syrian refugees, one of his other campaign promises, at a time of fierce division and when so many other countries seem to be shunning asylum seekers. He personally welcomed the first group to arrive in Toronto.
“The fact is Canadians understand that immigration, that people fleeing for their lives, that people wanting to build a better life for themselves and their kids is what created Canada, it’s what created North America,” he told CNN.
Language learning and assistance with employment, he said, are crucial to best integrate refugees into society and to send a positive message about immigration to Canadians.
“You can’t just bring them (refugees) over. You have to help them on a path towards being successful, and sometimes it doesn’t take a lot.”
Does Trudeau feel the weight of high expectations, having had such a whirlwind of positive attention so far?
The Prime Minister told Amanpour he finds it “funny” when he hears people say he’s trying to recast his image and put policy back at the forefront of his agenda, because “we’ve done some really big things from the get go.” This includes fixing Canada’s pension plan and introducing legislation to legalize physician-assisted dying, he said.
While there’s a “very real anxiety about the economy, about our job prospects and about security,” Trudeau insisted that telling the story of hope and progress is possible by making inclusive growth work for everyone.
This is being done, he told Amanpour, by increasing taxes on the wealthy, through a new child benefit program, and by taking advantage of record-low interest rates to invest in infrastructure.
“These are the things people have been asking for, that we said now is the time to invest in our future.”