In an interview that aired at the Reuters Next conference Thursday, Trudeau gave a glimpse into his future political plans, making it clear he aims to stay in the Prime Minister’s Office for years to come.
“I’ve still got a lot to do in terms of serving this country so I’m looking forward to a number more years of serving Canadians,” he said.
Watch: Trudeau says he expects Biden administration to re-engage on world stage
Trudeau was put on the spot by Reuters’ Canada bureau chief, Amran Abocar, who asked if, after leading a government since 2015, he was beginning to feel fatigued or might like to stay in power as long as his father.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau served more than 15 years as prime minister between the periods of 1968 to 1979, and 1980 to 1984.
“Well, listen, I spent my political career not choosing to compare myself or differentiate myself from my father, but be very much anchored in what is right for me,” Trudeau said.
While the pandemic has been a trying time for everyone, he said, it’s also a chance to “do really big things” to improve the present and “shape a better future.”
PM asked if he sees Freeland as his possible successor
Trudeau wouldn’t say if he sees Chrystia Freeland, his deputy prime minister and finance minister, as his potential successor as Liberal leader. It was announced this week that Freeland was chosen by fellow members of Parliament as the Maclean’s parliamentarian of the year.
Trudeau instead said he has assembled an “extraordinarily strong team” that is focused on helping Canadians weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I won’t speculate on what could happen years down the road,” he said. “All I know is the ability to bring together great people to serve their country is something that serves all Canadians.”
The interview aired just days after Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains, a key Trudeau confidante, announced he would step down as minister of innovation, science, and industry, and not run again in the next election. Bains said it was time to prioritize his young family.
After shuffling his cabinet Tuesday, Trudeau told reporters that Bains had called him days earlier to “go for a walk in the snow, and I think we all know what that means in politics.” Pierre Trudeau famously said he made up his mind to resign as prime minister while on a stroll through the streets of Ottawa during a blizzard.
The prime minister said it was clear from the conversation that Bains retiring from politics was the “right decision for his family.” Trudeau, first elected as an MP in 2008, has three young children of his own and has been open in the past about the strains political life can have on families.
Though his cabinet shake-up added fuel to the speculation of a potential spring election, Trudeau said this week that while he can’t control what other parties will do in the minority Parliament, he’s hoping to work “constructively in Parliament this spring.”
Trudeau looking forward to working with Biden administration
Trudeau’s discussion at the Reuters Next conference also touched on changes south of the border with Joe Biden set to be sworn in as U.S. president on Jan. 20. The prime minister said Biden’s incoming administration will create an opportunity to work together on fighting climate change and tackling other global issues, including the rise of a “much more assertive and sometimes problematic” China.
“There’s a need for a re-engaged United States in global circles and I look forward to digging into it with president-elect Biden when the time comes,” he said.
Trudeau reiterated that he and Biden have spoken about the fates of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians who have been detained in China for more than two years in what is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on an extradition request from the United States.
Though Trudeau criticized outgoing president Donald Trump last week for inciting supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol — a stunning event that resulted in five deaths, including a police officer, and spurred Trump’s second impeachment — he was careful when asked how much damage Trump may have done to western alliances.
“I think one of the things that a lot of the traditional allies and friends of the United States are looking forward to is a re-engagement on some of the bigger themes, whether it’s freer trade, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s protecting democracy and the institutions we have or coordinating against some of the rise of authoritarianism we’re seeing around the world,” he said.
“There’s a need for us to work together and that’s certainly something that I know a lot of us are looking forward to rolling up our sleeves on and working all together on.”
The prime minister also told the conference he does not support a so-called vaccine passport, as is being developed in Denmark, for people to show they have been inoculated against COVID-19. Trudeau called it an interesting idea that is “fraught with challenges.”
The indications that a vast majority of Canadians want to be vaccinated will “get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” he said.