The Run­ning Man

Justin Trudeau sprinted to early po­lit­i­cal celebrity cap­ti­vat­ing vot­ers with Trudeau­ma­nia 2.0. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Zoomer, the prime min­is­ter in­tro­duces his new min­is­ter of se­niors, Filom­ena Tassi. Will build­ing on his al­ready strong record of

ZOOMER Magazine - - CONTENTS - Text Peter Mug­geridge Pho­tog­ra­phy Chris Chapman

The prime min­is­ter on Zoomer Na­tion and the pol­i­tics of now

IN SWEEP­ING to power in the 2015 elec­tion, Justin Trudeau not only re­vived the Lib­eral party but also be­came a global su­per­star. Trudeau wasn’t just sim­ply our new prime min­is­ter. He was “young, tall and ath­letic” or so gushed the New York Times, the “emoji politi­cian” mil­len­ni­als craved, a dy­namic head­liner who was mak­ing Canada “sud­denly hip.” The scion of a Cana­dian po­lit­i­cal giant, he ousted the Stephen Harper-led Con­ser­va­tives by fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s play­book: he ran as the youth­ful can­di­date, full of vigour, charisma, good looks and fresh ideas. Ap­peal­ing to 20-some­things flex­ing their po­lit­i­cal mus­cles for the first time, he was a leader for the so­cial me­dia gen­er­a­tion, replacing a but­toned-down Harper whose gov­ern­ment had sim­ply run its course.

While Trudeau was ush­ered into of­fice by cap­tur­ing younger vot­ers, he also at­tracted sup­port from older Cana­di­ans, true-blue Harper sup­port­ers, many of whom checked Lib­eral on their bal­lot for the first time in more than a decade.

At first, every­thing Trudeau did not only won ac­claim but also went vi­ral. He de­clared him­self a fem­i­nist and ap­pointed a gen­der-bal­anced cabi­net “be­cause it’s 2015.” He jogged with world lead­ers, photo-bombed self­ies, hugged panda bears, trick-or­treated with his pho­to­genic fam­ily, wore rub­ber ducky socks to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum and got his pic­ture on the cover of Rolling Stone.

His was an ex­cit­ing new face, stand­ing out in the staid world of Cana­dian pol­i­tics. And the so­cial and main­stream me­dia here and around the world lapped it all up.

On the pol­icy front, he could do no wrong ei­ther. Right off the bat, he ful­filled the elec­tion prom­ises made to older Cana­di­ans at a CARP Town Hall meet­ing in Septem­ber 2015.

Ap­peal­ing to the pro­gres­sive base, which the Liberals had adept- ly snatched from the NDP, he apol­o­gized for res­i­den­tial schools, taxed the wealthy, cut taxes for the mid­dle class, passed a gen­der friendly bud­get, le­gal­ized med­i­cally as­sisted dy­ing and im­posed a car­bon tax.

But such is the capri­cious na­ture of be­ing a leader that, no mat­ter how bright the forecast looks on your first years in power, “sunny ways” will in­evitably give way to stormy days.

First came re­ports of cash-for-ac­cess din­ners with Chi­nese bil­lion­aires that, while prob­a­bly very tasty, were nev­er­the­less dubbed by the ethics com­mis­sioner as “not very savoury.” Then came the rev­e­la­tion of an all-ex­penses-paid fam­ily va­ca­tion to the Aga Khan’s is­land, which drew a stern re­buke from the fed­eral ethics com­mis­sioner for vi­o­lat­ing the Con­flict of In­ter­est Act.

A trip to In­dia be­came a PR dis­as­ter when his over-the-top wardrobe choices and a din­ner in­vi­ta­tion to a con­victed ex-ter­ror­ist sparked con­tro­versy and ridicule. Crit­ics also be­gan wor­ry­ing out loud about the price tag on his bud­gets, ac­cus­ing him of reneg­ing on prom­ises by run­ning up huge deficits. He set eye­balls rolling with a snarky “peo­plekind” com­ment, dodged a #MeToo mo­ment and some­how ended up buy­ing a con­tro­ver­sial and ab­surdly ex­pen­sive pipe­line that no one wanted, least of all the en­vi­ron­men­tal and First Na­tions’ vot­ers he had so ag­gres­sively courted.

The hon­ey­moon, it seemed, was over, and the fickle press smelled blood. “Stop swoon­ing over Justin Trudeau,” de­clared the head­line of an April 2017 Guardian op-ed, “The man is a dis­as­ter for the planet.”

Hy­per­bole aside, the prime min­is­ter was cer­tainly aware of the ef­fect these mis­steps were hav­ing on his party’s for­tunes and skil­fully re­versed the down­ward trend. He won raves for star­ing down U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the G7 sum­mit in Que­bec, dur­ing rene­go­ti­a­tions of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment and dur­ing the tar­iff war. And his re­fusal to be baited into a Twit­ter beef with the big­mouth from the south pleased na­tion­al­ists, won re­spect and bumped up his ap­proval rat­ings.

Shoring up his pro­gres­sive cre­den­tials, the prime min­is­ter ful­filled another cam­paign prom­ise by push­ing through the le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana, praised by ZoomerMe­dia founder Moses Znaimer as “the sig­na­ture so­cial leg­is­la­tion of this gen­er­a­tion.”

So in early Au­gust, with the next fed­eral elec­tion a lit­tle over a year away, his gov­ern­ment em­broiled in heavy NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions while de­fus­ing a diplo­matic flap with Saudi Ara­bia, Trudeau sat down with Zoomer edi­tor-in-chief Suzanne Boyd and me for a wide-rang­ing 30-minute chat. Join­ing him was Filom­ena Tassi, his newly ap­pointed min­is­ter of se­niors.

The po­lit­i­cal land­scape has shifted greatly in three years since Trudeau came to power. The Con­ser­va­tives and NDP have elected new lead­ers, both – though it’s hard to fathom – younger than Trudeau. Kath­leen Wynne, the former pre­mier and Lib­eral ally in vote-rich On­tario, has de­parted the po­lit­i­cal scene, oblit­er­ated in the spring elec­tion by Doug Ford and his Lib­eral-bash­ing, car­bon-tax bust­ing gov­ern­ment.

In his sum­mer of­fice look­ing out over the Par­lia­ment build­ings, un­der the watch­ful eyes of Sir Wil­frid Lau­rier – a life-sized por­trait of the great Lib­eral prime min­is­ter dom­i­nates the east wall – Trudeau talked aging, fam­ily and life af­ter of­fice as well as teas­ing a big pol­icy de­vel­op­ment. And Min­is­ter Tassi ex­plained how she’ll en­sure the voice of older Cana­di­ans will be heard in Ot­tawa.

Suzanne Boyd I think it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing from the per­spec­tive of our mag­a­zine, which looks at the jour­ney of aging in Canada, that one of your call­ing cards is youth­ful

vigour. You have that healthy vigour that’s usu­ally only as­so­ci­ated with youth. And you made your­self youth min­is­ter when you be­came prime min­is­ter. So why a se­niors min­is­ter and why now? Justin Trudeau I’m go­ing to start by tak­ing ex­cep­tion to one of the things you just said. The role model for me grow­ing up was my fa­ther. I was about 11 or 12 when he got his se­niors card to the movies. I lived with some­one who was in­cred­i­bly phys­i­cally fit, in shape and en­er­getic all through his life. So for me, [be­ing ac­tive] is not some­thing I only as­so­ci­ate with youth, and I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing filled with en­ergy and ca­pac­ity un­til the very end of my life, how­ever long that is, so I don’t see dy­namism and vigour as be­ing just for young peo­ple.

SB It’s true. Be­cause that’s a stereo­type that we feel makes a mag­a­zine like ours nec­es­sary. Se­niors are ac­tive, they’re work­ing, they’re dat­ing, they’re on so­cial me­dia but many peo­ple still haven’t wo­ken up to this. Min­is­ter Tassi, you’ve spo­ken about the “golden years” – that’s a term that might seem pa­ter­nal­is­tic. So what’s your take on aging and the po­si­tion that Cana­di­ans should have to­ward it? Filom­ena Tassi I’ve just vis­ited McMaster [Univer­sity’s] In­sti­tute for Re­search on Aging. They have an amaz­ing hash­tag – #ag­in­greimag­ined. I loved that. You know they’re do­ing fan­tas­tic work and I think what that hash­tag says is very im­por­tant. The “golden years” com­ment comes from some­thing my 89-year-old mother has said to me in the past; with raised eye­brows, she would say: “These are the golden years?” So this is where bring­ing “golden” back to the “golden years” comes from.

SB So it’s not the con­de­scend­ing stereo­type? FT No. Look at the ar­ti­cle Zoomer did re­cently on the 81-year-old run­ner, who’s break­ing records on the track. And what does she say? “The best is yet to come.” Fan­tas­tic.

Peter Mug­geridge Min­is­ter Tassi, imag­ine this is a job in­ter­view, and you’re meet­ing with the prime min­is­ter. He asks you: “What are your qual­i­fi­ca­tions for the new se­niors port­fo­lio?” FT Well, first, and prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant thing is my life has al­ways been about ser­vice. I’m hap­pi­est when I’m serv­ing. I prac­tised law be­cause I wanted to serve. And I spent 20 years as a chap­lain in ser­vice. And then I de­cided to come for­ward and run as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for ser­vice. When I look at my life, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing my time as a chap­lain, work­ing at an ini­tia­tive and see­ing what hap­pens when youth and se­niors come to­gether, there’s a magic that hap­pens. That is some­thing I think we need to cre­ate and fos­ter. And then as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment over the past num­ber of years, se­niors were al­ways first and fore­most on my mind. I reached out to this com­mu­nity by hav­ing Tea and Talks with Tassi. Whether it was go­ing to Villa Italia to lis­ten to our se­niors or host­ing them at my of­fice ... that ex­pe­ri­ence will en­sure that their voices are heard.

PM We’ve heard se­niors min­is­ters say their goal is to make sure their voices are heard. But how will you make this a re­al­ity? FT First you have to make a com­mit­ment to be that voice, and I have. Se­condly, there’s the im­por­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion. There are so many im­por­tant or­ga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple work­ing out there for se­niors. So it’s a col­lab­o­ra­tive piece – bring­ing part­ners to­gether in a way that we’re com­ple­ment­ing the work that’s be­ing done. And the con­tri­bu­tions that our se­niors have made to our com­mu­ni­ties – eco­nomic, so­cial, spiritual, this in and of it­self is the driv­ing force for me to real- ize: this is what our se­niors de­serve. We care about our se­niors. We want them to look for­ward to their aging years. They earned that. They de­serve that. And I’m go­ing to work hard to make that hap­pen. JT That’s at the cen­tre of why we’ve made Filom­ena our se­niors min­is­ter. When we were build­ing a plat­form, when I was get­ting out across the coun­try over the past many years to see what the pro­grams and ini­tia­tives we needed to put for­ward if we wanted to be elected as gov­ern­ment. We had a lot of very strong com­mit­ments to­ward se­niors, whether it was restor­ing that age of re­tire­ment to 65 (down from 67 which it had been raised to), in­creas­ing the Guar­an­teed In­come Sup­ple­ment (GIS) for the most vul­ner­a­ble sin­gle se­niors, mov­ing for­ward on bet­ter care­giv­ing ben­e­fits, on en­hanc­ing and strength­en­ing the CPP for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, on hous­ing, on home care – we had a re­ally am­bi­tious range of things that we com­mit­ted to do­ing in the last elec­tion and we did them all! And what we re­al­ized now is that we need to have that next step. And that’s where bring­ing in a min­is­ter for se­niors to ac­tu­ally go out and build the next phase be­cause, while we ad­dressed a lot of the big things that we had to start with right away, there’s lots more to do. And now, it’s not just about do­ing it – of course that’s a big piece – it’s about lis­ten­ing and drawing in. So, at the core of Filom­ena’s strengths, it’s not just de­liv­er­ing for peo­ple but ac­tu­ally build­ing with them where we’re go­ing as a gov­ern­ment for se­niors, but as a so­ci­ety.

SB Did Min­is­ter Tassi lobby you for the role? How did you choose her from among all of your back­benchers? JT Well, first of all, we have an ex­tremely ac­tive se­niors cau­cus among our MPs. There was an un­der­stand­ing that this was a re­ally big is­sue in an area where we had to show lead­er­ship. A lot of it started from: “Wow, we need to make sure we’re get­ting out the mes­sage of all the big things we’ve done.” So a lot of folks came to­gether to pro­mote se­niors is­sues, and Filom­ena was do­ing in­cred­i­ble work, both with them but also as deputy whip for us in a very dif­fi­cult time, and she demon­strated both a level of ca­pac­ity, of thought­ful­ness, of en­gage­ment with peo­ple on an in­di­vid­ual level and en­gage­ment with re­ally big and dif­fi­cult is­sues. It made me re­al­ize that she was

ex­actly the right per­son. Not to men­tion the fact that she talks about her mom all the time. It made me re­ally know that she un­der­stands what needs to be done and is go­ing to be able to draw peo­ple to­gether.

SB Min­is­ter, what is the next step for you in set­ting up your port­fo­lio? FT The prime min­is­ter has asked me to travel across the coun­try and to lis­ten. To en­gage with se­niors as well as or­ga­ni­za­tions that are work­ing hard for se­niors. I’ll be bring­ing those voices back and de­ter­min­ing on how we build on what we’ve al­ready ac­com­plished. JT And the other piece we have to think about when we talk about the se­niors min­is­ter is that, while there’s ob­vi­ously a fo­cus on se­niors, we re­ally see three groups within the min­istry. First of all, yes, look­ing at se­niors and what they need right now. We’re also look­ing at their fam­i­lies.

SB Like care­givers, for ex­am­ple? JT That’s where we talk about en­hanc­ing the care­givers’ ben­e­fits, en­hanc­ing sup­port for fam­i­lies who are, more and more, sup­port­ing and look­ing at in­creas­ing qual­ity of life for their aging par­ents. But the third group we’re also very much think­ing about is our fu­ture se­niors. How are we pre­par­ing so that peo­ple who are young to­day, when they re­tire will have the op­por­tu­ni­ties and the qual­ity of life that we re­ally need to start think­ing about now? Those three as­pects are very much at the core of what the se­nior min­is­ter’s man­date will be.

SB That’s so im­por­tant be­cause when we were cre­at­ing the Zoomer brand, one of the things we kept en­sur­ing was that we had younger peo­ple in the mag­a­zine as well as older. Aging is not a ghetto. It af­fects ev­ery­one and the en­tire so­ci­ety. We hear a lot of talk about mil­len­ni­als these days – and it’s a voice that’s so im­por­tant – and this is the first time in a long while where none [of the three fed­eral party lead­ers] is a boomer. These is­sues that af­fect older peo­ple have been on your radar. But how do we en­sure they don’t go off your radar? For in­stance, the se­niors’ cost-of-liv­ing in­dex? JT This was some­thing we rec­og­nized when a lot of stud­ies came out point­ing to the fact that the way Stat­sCan an­a­lyzes the cost of liv­ing didn’t nec­es­sar­ily re­flect some of the very real chal­lenges that se­niors in par­tic­u­lar were meet­ing. So we’ve worked with Stat­sCan look­ing at a num­ber of ways to go at that prob­lem. We’re look­ing at go­ing for­ward with the Se­niors Price In­dex to rec­og­nize the gen­uine costs that se­niors are fac­ing. But there are a lot of ways and tools to do this and we want to make sure that what­ever we do is cap­tur­ing the chal­lenges and needs that se­niors are fac­ing.

SB And pen­sion pro­tec­tion? JT A huge is­sue. Filom­ena knows it well be­cause she has Stelco in her rid­ing, and the chal­lenges around that are very real. There are a lot of tools we have to en­sure pen­sions are pro­tected, and we do have to take a holis­tic ap­proach to­ward it but it’s some­thing we’re very much work­ing on with stake­hold­ers, with other or­ders of gov­ern­ment. This is a con­cern that peo­ple are fac­ing right across the coun­try, around the world even, and we know we can show real ini­tia­tive on that. FT We’re very proud of the pen­sion com­mit­ment in the bud­get say­ing we are en­ter­ing the con­sul­ta­tion stage of solv­ing this decades old prob­lem.

PM Al­though it may seem like a mun­dane is­sue, RRIF with­drawal rules are a huge bone of con­tention among CARP mem­bers. Peo­ple are forced to liq­ui­date their savings even though they may not need to. Ba­si­cally, they want more au­ton­omy over their money. Is that some­thing on the agenda? JT One of the things we rec­og­nized in our last plat­form is that peo­ple need more flex­i­bil­ity. The way things used to work in a very pre­dictable fash­ion 20 or 50 years ago no longer make sense. Peo­ple are liv­ing health­ier, longer, in dif­fer­ent ways, and we need to look at how we can make sure there is more flex­i­bil­ity while still reach­ing the goals we have of en­sur­ing sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity, while we pro­tect the most vul­ner­a­ble. So get­ting that bal­ance right is al­ways a chal­lenge be­cause you have peo­ple with a very wide range of needs, but rec­og­niz­ing that this is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for many peo­ple is cer­tainly some­thing we are aware of.

PM De­vel­op­ing a na­tional pharmacare plan is an idea that comes and goes at the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral level. Is it ever go­ing to be a re­al­ity? JT It’s com­ing. There have been a lot of stud­ies and talk about [pharmacare] over the years as be­ing a big gap in our health-care sys­tem. Politi­cians have been talking about this for a long time. We put to­gether an ex­pert panel to re­ally dig into all the rec­om­men­da­tions made over the years to look at how we can move for­ward for se­niors, for young peo­ple, for ev­ery­one fac­ing chal­lenges over the cost of med­i­ca­tions.

PM When you say it’s com­ing, do you mean it’s in­evitable or it’s ac­tu­ally com­ing soon? JT I’m not go­ing to re­veal the plat­form yet, but we have heard very clearly that this is a sig­nif­i­cant pri­or­ity for peo­ple and we have asked this ex­pert panel, led by Dr. Eric Hoskins, to come for­ward with a prac­ti­cal, prag­matic way on how we can make pharmacare a re­al­ity in Canada. Be­cause we’ve just heard from too many peo­ple that it re­ally mat­ters.

PM Bud­get 2017 de­voted $11 bil­lion to home care and men­tal health, which is re­ally im­por­tant.

How­ever, it seems we’re con­tin­u­ally throw­ing money ad hoc at the home­care prob­lem, and it never seems to go away. Is there any idea of cre­at­ing a cen­tral plan that would ad­dress home care on a na­tional level? JT When­ever the fed­eral gov­ern­ment makes in­vest­ments in health, it can’t be ad hoc. It has to be rec­og­niz­ing that this is a pri­or­ity for the prov­inces, and it’s why we de­liver it. And in all my con­ver­sa­tions with ev­ery province, they said: “Money for home care and men­tal health? These are pri­or­i­ties we have. We ab­so­lutely want that.” So it’s not just about putting money out there. It’s about rec­og­niz­ing that these are ar­eas that are es­sen­tial for our so­ci­ety. Yes, they’re big-ticket items but they’re also ar­eas where we’ll be sav­ing money and in­creas­ing qual­ity of life. When you give op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple to stay at home and not be in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized, to be cared for with their fam­ily, get that out­side help come to them, the qual­ity-oflife im­prove­ments, the lower costs of hav­ing some­one at home rather than an in­sti­tu­tion, these are ben­e­fits for our so­ci­ety. But it re­quires a shift in the mod­els that we’ve cre­ated over decades, and that’s re­ally what [the home-care in­vest­ment] was all about. We need to start look­ing at these things dif­fer­ently be­cause our se­niors want to stay in­de­pen­dent longer, want to stay home, want to be with their fam­i­lies. But their fam­i­lies can’t give them in­sti­tu­tional care at home with­out ex­ter­nal sup­port.

PM The work­place can be treach­er­ous for 50-year-olds. They’re of­ten the first to go when com­pa­nies down­size. Is there a lead­er­ship role the se­niors’ min­is­ter could take to change the per­cep­tion of how com­pa­nies view the older worker? FT It’s about myth-bust­ing, right? It’s re­ally tack­ling that by demon­strat­ing through ev­i­dence and facts that these myths need to be bro­ken. The truth needs to be re­vealed. As we age, we can make even greater con­tri­bu­tions to the work­place. It’s about high­light­ing that and get­ting the real facts and in­for­ma­tion out there. JT I think another big piece of this is also re­duc­ing that idea of com­pe­ti­tion or con­trast [be­tween the gen­er­a­tions], that there isn’t ac­tu­ally a great com­ple­men­tar­ity be­tween peo­ple with more ex­pe­ri­ence in the work­force be­ing able to men­tor and be­ing able to sup­port and guide younger peo­ple com­ing into the work force to be even bet­ter. Look­ing at this as an “ei­ther/or,” I think, is ter­ri­ble in our so­ci­ety. We do far too much strat­i­fi­ca­tion in­stead of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether.

PM Which speaks to Suzanne’s point of ghet­toiza­tion. JT Ex­actly.

SB Just look around you – 55 isn’t what it used to be; 65 isn’t what it used to be. So why hasn’t this mes­sage bro­ken through? We’ve been work­ing on it … JT Yes, you’ve been do­ing a great job. FT The [$50 mil­lion a year] in­vest­ments we’re mak­ing with the New Hori­zons for Se­niors Pro­gram will go to­ward men­tor­ing, vol­un­teer­ing and end­ing se­niors’ iso­la­tion. These in­vest­ments are so im­por­tant. When I look at my ex­pe­ri­ence with youth, there are so many sto­ries I could tell. As part of the mis­sion work we did, we brought a stu­dent to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic to live with the poor. One stu­dent brought a med­i­cal kit be­cause he wanted to be a doc­tor one day. And a se­nior comes up with an in­fected leg – they don’t have med­i­cal treat­ment there so she’s go­ing to lose her leg – and [the stu­dent] takes the time, cleans out the leg. She comes back ev­ery day. And on the last day, she says: “Last night was the first time I slept with­out any pain.” So she jumps in the pit and starts help­ing us shovel. And to­day, that young boy has be­come a doc­tor. There are count­less sto­ries like this.

PM The pend­ing trade war with the U.S. is bound to cause a rise in prices. Many peo­ple liv­ing on a fixed in­come won’t be able to af­ford the ex­tra out­lay. This might be an area where the Se­niors’ Price In­dex comes into play. JT Yeah, this is some­thing we’re very aware of. When we chose the items on which we were go­ing to im­pose re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs, we looked very care­fully to make sure they were items that could be eas­ily sub­sti­tuted by avail­able op­tions – ei­ther Cana­dian-made or places that aren’t im­pos­ing tar­iffs on us – in or­der to make sure that con­sumers don’t get dinged as much as pos­si­ble. We’re lim­ited by the fact that the U.S. has de­cided to move for­ward and im­pose tar­iffs, and cer­tain things are go­ing to get more ex­pen­sive, no mat­ter what we do. That’s why one of the things we’re very fo­cussed on is lis­ten­ing to stake­hold­ers, com­mu­ni­ties, mer­chant groups and con­sumer pro­tec­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions to see where the chal­lenges are and bring in ex­cep­tions, com­pen­sa­tions or sup­port for peo­ple who need it. Ev­ery­body gets hurt in a trade war. Our re­spon­si­bil­ity as a gov­ern­ment is to make sure that the most vul­ner­a­ble – like se­niors – don’t get dis­pro­por­tion­ately harmed by this.

SB This week­end, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land said she’d like to see [ne­go­ti­a­tions on a new NAFTA deal] get wrapped up as soon as pos­si­ble. JT We would very much like to see this wrapped up soon. This uncer­tainty has been bad for con­sumers. And bad for Amer­i­cans. The num­ber of folks I’ve seen through­out the sum­mer vis­it­ing Canada who have been sort of apolo­getic or say­ing “Hang in there. We’re your friends. We want to see this set­tled” has been re­ally touch­ing. We are two coun­tries with the clos­est and deep­est

re­la­tion­ship of any two coun­tries in the world. I am not wor­ried about it but I am im­pa­tient as a lot of peo­ple are to move on to the next steps of our re­la­tion­ship and get NAFTA rene­go­ti­ated.

SB So we can’t put a time frame on it? JT We’re work­ing very hard and when it gets done, it will get done.

SB The Con­ser­va­tives dou­bled the an­nual amount that Cana­di­ans can con­trib­ute to their tax-free savings ac­count to $10,000, and your gov­ern­ment rolled it back to $5,000. JT It was a recog­ni­tion that the num­ber of peo­ple who ac­tu­ally had that much money to put aside ev­ery year in a tax-free ac­count was very small and were dis­pro­por­tion­ately wealth­ier.

SB But they were also older. JT Well our fo­cus has al­ways been on the most vul­ner­a­ble. We don’t look at it as: “Be­cause you’re old, you must be vul­ner­a­ble.” No, there are a lot of older folks who are tremen­dously well-off. If we’re go­ing to make sure that we’re giv­ing the best help to the peo­ple who need it, we have to be hon­est about that. That’s why one of the first things we did was raise taxes on the wealth­i­est and lower them on the mid­dle class. There are peo­ple who said: “That’s no fun.” I said: “That’s no fun for you be­cause you’re do­ing very well.”

PM Is pen­sion in­come-split­ting safe? Be­cause if you want to lose the next elec­tion … JT Yes, I’ve said that it is, and Hazel McCal­lion re­peated it for us. De­spite the fear games that the Con­ser­va­tives are play­ing, we have al­ways pro­tected that for se­niors, and we al­ways will.

SB Your re­cent cabi­net shuf­fle started us think­ing about the next elec­tion [which must be called by Oc­to­ber 2019 at the lat­est]. How are you feel­ing about things go­ing for­ward? JT We have put for­ward a gov­ern­ment that has been fo­cussed on bas­ing our de­ci­sions on facts and ev­i­dence, on help­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble, on not look­ing at bou­tique tax cred­its that will be great for elec­toral pur­poses but ac­tu­ally sim­pli­fy­ing and mov­ing things for­ward in a way that is help­ing the vul­ner­a­ble and grow­ing the econ­omy ... We will con­tinue to have a thought­ful, rea­son­able ap­proach that rec­og­nizes the chal­lenges that we have, rec­og­nizes the anx­i­ety that’s out there amongst peo­ple, but doesn’t work on en­hanc­ing that anx­i­ety but al­lays those fears. We know, un­for­tu­nately, that there are very strong nar­ra­tives of fear, of division out there that can be use­ful elec­torally. Cer­tain par­ties will take that on – we won’t. We’re not go­ing to be do­ing per­sonal at­tacks, we’re not go­ing to be play­ing the pol­i­tics of division and fear, we’re go­ing to hope­fully demon­strate once again that cam­paigns based on fear, division and at­tacks don’t work with Cana­di­ans.

PM You were born in pol­i­tics and you spent most of your life in pol­i­tics – what will you do af­ter you have your own “walk in the snow” or, per­haps in your case, a “jog in the snow”? JT Well, I was born into pol­i­tics but then I avoided pol­i­tics like the plague for about 25 years while I was a teacher and an ac­tivist on all sorts of dif­fer­ent is­sues. I’m now serv­ing but I look for­ward to time af­ter pol­i­tics where I get to make up a lit­tle bit for some of the time I haven’t been able to spend with my fam­ily as much as I’d like to. And I look to con­trib­ute to so­ci­ety in dif­fer­ent ways but not nearly in as ac­tive ser­vice as I am right now.

PM Your dad served 16 years as prime min­is­ter. Is that a goal you’d like to aim for? JT No. I don’t think my kids or my wife would al­low me to last that long in pol­i­tics, even if Cana­di­ans did, which is far from cer­tain as well.

SB Speak­ing of fam­ily, I’d like to ask af­ter your mother [Mar­garet Trudeau]. She’s been on Zoomer’s cover – she’s some­one who proves our point that the best is yet to come. She’s done such amaz­ing work [ad­vo­cat­ing for men­tal health and for clean drink­ing wa­ter in de­vel­op­ing na­tions]. How is she do­ing and how does she in­spire you? JT Well, she in­spires me as a grandma of eight, right now. And she is now more ful­filled and hap­pier than I’ve seen her in a long time. Her ad­vo­cacy work, her work on men­tal health, her work on aging suc­cess­fully and grace­fully is re­ally res­onat­ing and is in­spir­ing to me. We have won­der­ful con­ver­sa­tions, mostly about kids and about parenting, but also about the world we’re build­ing and the world we’re con­tribut­ing to. I just couldn’t be prouder to be her son. For me, she is a real in­spi­ra­tion and a source of tremen­dous pride. She’s got a big birth­day com­ing up in Septem­ber that I’m very much look­ing for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing – a big mile­stone that we’re all very ex­cited about. SB Con­grat­u­la­tions. Well, thank you both so much.

Fac­ing the Zoomer Na­tion: Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau Zoomer shed light on next year’s elec­tion plat­form, telling edi­tor-in-chief Suzanne Boyd and se­nior edi­tor Peter Mug­geridge that a na­tional pharmacare plan is com­ing.

A wide-rang­ing con­ver­sa­tion in the prime min­is­ter’s sum­mer of­fice

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