Thanks to our Team Harris Ambassador, Tiffany Kwak (MPP'18) for this post! 

To celebrate the Institute of Politics’ five year anniversary, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the University of Chicago on Wednesday, February 7 for an in-depth discussion about public service and current issues in global politics.

I was excited to get the chance to listen to PM Trudeau speak, as I worked on a group project last spring on Canadian fiscal federalism for the State and Local Finance course with Paula Worthington.

Here are my top five takeaways from Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit:

  1. A life of public service kept calling out to Prime Minister Trudeau, who initially desired a career in teaching and education over politics. He made an inspiring analogy: in the same the way that teachers have the capacity to empower their students to be the best they can be, politicians also wield incredible potential to similarly empower citizens’ lives.

  2. Trade is an incredibly important (and tricky) issue to Trudeau. Trudeau highlighted that the United State’s number of trade exports to Canada trumps its exports to countries like the U.K., China, and Japan. As such, it’s vital that trade relations amongst North American countries are fortified.

  3. Trudeau stressed the importance of diversity. He talked about the “Canadian Mosaic” and also discussed policies Canada is enacting to protect the interests of indigenous races and other marginalized groups.

  4. It is vital that we keep younger generations interested in politics and public service because our voices are so important in shaping outcomes not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Trudeau acknowledged that young people today value intelligent and rational debate about what is happening in the world but may be turned off by partisan politics.

  5. Finally, Trudeau emphasized that it is important to draw agents of change from young people who are not fearful of it. He ended his remarks on a positive note, encouraging the crowd to be continually inspired by both what we hope to be and what we hope to do in the world.

After his remarks, Trudeau and IOP Director David Axelrod held a lively Q&A discussion with the crowd. Trudeau received a standing ovation and even took the time to shake students’ hands as he was leaving the venue.

It was an inspiring night that many of us will not forget.

Interested in watching the discussion? Head over to the IOP website.