An overstuffed agenda and a steep learning curve: Trudeau in 2016

He’ll spend much of 2017 just catching up with the previous year’s promises

In a year-end press conference Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reflected on the highs and lows of governing the nation in 2016. For Trudeau, the lowest point was the killings of Canadian hostages John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, two businessmen who were kidnapped and murdered by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines.

“(It) is something that obviously was personally difficult for me as I had the responsibility for directing and articulating the Canadian position, but also the opportunity and responsibility to speak with their families,” said Trudeau.

That position is not to pay ransoms. When asked whether he regretted this, Trudeau said he thinks most Canadians understand. Giving in to such demands “would not just provide a source of significant funds to violent terrorists intent on causing more harm and taking more lives, but it would also endanger further the lives of any Canadian citizen who works, travels or lives outside of our borders.”

Trudeau’s correct on that point, and his response reminds Canadians that running a national government isn’t simply a question of dollars, cents and competing interests. It’s also a job involving life-and-death decisions, ones where lives hang literally in the balance. A prime minister who sends soldiers into war zones — even on training missions — does so knowing those soldiers could die. And the wide range of decisions a PM has to make on national security — protecting our borders, crafting laws which empower intelligence agencies and the police to ferret out plots — can mean the difference between living and dying for ordinary Canadians.

Then there are the other life-and-death decisions — ones whose consequences are just as far-reaching but aren’t as immediate, or obvious, or dramatic. Things like enacting right-to-die legislation, funding health care, or maintaining military equipment. Those three issues arose this year, when advocates of doctor–assisted suicide attacked the government’s limited legislation, when the provinces demanded more cash for health care transfers, and when one of Canada’s aging CF-18 fighter jets crashed and its pilot, Col. Paul Doyle, was killed.

Read the full article on iPolitics.

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