Four Big Lessons America Can Learn From Canada's New Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau, Canada's new prime minister, was sworn into office on Wednesday.
Trudeau, the son of the legendary former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, is set to usher Canada into a bright and bold new era.
His progressive stances on a wide array of issues, combined with his amiable yet assertive demeanor, are already setting a precedent for the wider world. America, in particular, could learn a great deal from his example.
A recent study from the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, ranked Canada the "freest nation in the world."
While the US might enthusiastically refer to itself as the "greatest nation in the world" and the "land of the free," it seems its northern neighbor is doing a much better job in terms of upholding personal freedoms.
Under the leadership of Trudeau, Canada is poised to expand on this already impressive accolade.
Here are four big lessons America can learn from Canada's new prime minister.
We shouldn't ever question the need for gender equality.
Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist, appointed a cabinet that's 50 percent women. When a reporter asked him why gender equality was so important to him, the new prime minister offered a simple yet profound response,
Because it's 2015.
This is the first time in Canadian history there's an equal number of men and women in the cabinet.
America could learn a lot from Trudeau's example. There's an epic lack of female leadership in this country, in both politics and business.
While women make up around half of the US population, they only comprise about 19 percent of the US Congress.
We've also never had a female president. Equal and balanced representation is vital to the health of any democracy.
As Trudeau aptly expressed, it's 2015 and gender equality in politics is long overdue.
It's time to legalize weed!
Trudeau promised to take action to legalize marijuana as soon as possible after getting elected. In his view, it's counterintuitive and wrong to keep pot illegal.
He's not comfortable with the fact thousands of Canadians have been left with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.
Not to mention, Trudeau believes perpetuating pot prohibition is far too costly and wastes valuable law enforcement resources.
He's absolutely right, and the same things are true in the United States.
Marijuana use is not linked to violent crime, nor does it have the same impact on health as many illicit substances (it's impossible to overdose and safer than alcohol). Yet, as the ACLU highlights, over half of all drug-related arrests are for pot.
Keeping marijuana illegal helps perpetuates the failed, costly and discriminatory endeavor commonly referred to as the War on Drugs.
It leads to the criminalization of non-violent individuals while vital resources are wasted.
Many Americans seem to be well aware of these facts, given a majority now support legalization.
But only one candidate for president, Senator Bernie Sanders, is willing to stand up for the legalization of marijuana on the federal level.
Perhaps the rest of the 2016 candidates for president of the US should wake up and follow Sanders' and Trudeau's examples. It's a matter of common sense.
Climate change is very real, and we need to take it very seriously.
Prime Minister Trudeau is not willing to stand idly by when it comes to climate change. He wants to take direct action.
He's appointed a Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
The wording is important here, as the title of this role was previously just "Minister of Environment."
This change signifies Trudeau is committed to addressing climate change.
Meanwhile, we've got a US senator who's the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee who brought a snowball to the Senate floor as evidence climate change isn't happening.
President Obama recently referenced this incident, channeling Kanye West in the most appropriate way possible,
Indeed, it is "cray" to deny climate change is happening, and even crazier to do nothing about it.
Helping refugees helps everyone.
We are currently witnessing the worst refugee crisis of our era, with around 19.5 million refugees worldwide.
The majority, around 4 million, are a product of the ongoing war Syria. But this is a global crisis and isn't limited to any single country or region.
Prime Minister Trudeau understands the gravity of this situation, which is why he's pledged to accept 25,000 refugees by January 2016.
Only time will tell if he's able to deliver on this promise, but the intent is admirable and sends a valuable message to other countries.
With that said, President Obama should also be commended for his administration's efforts to address this crisis.
The president recently announced the US will increase the number of refugees it accepts from the current cap of 70,000 to 100,000 by 2017.
Even though the president acted from a benevolent place, he's been met with a significant amount of criticism.
Individuals like presidential candidate Donald Trump are pushing an unfounded narrative about refugees, labeling them as dangerous terrorists. This xenophobic perspective is not only erroneous, it's dangerous.
Addressing the global refugee crisis is a matter of collective security. Our fates are linked in this interconnected world, regardless of origin.
The more displaced people there are, the more unstable the world becomes.
Accordingly, it's on all of us to help refugees, from both a selfless and selfish standpoint.
President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau both seem to understand this truth, and it's disconcerting current candidates for president and their supporters are unwilling to accept it.
If Prime Minister Trudeau can accomplish even half of what he's promised, he will do great things for his country.
As the 2016 presidential race continues to gain steam, we can only hope his perspectives rub off on many of the candidates and their supporters.
Citations: What a Justin Trudeau Win Means for Canada (TIME), Canada election Seven things Justin Trudeau believes in (BBC), Canadas Liberal Party on the Issues (NYT), This Is the Freest Country in the World (US News), Marijuana Arrests By Numbers (ACLU), No legalizing medical marijuana doesnt lead to crime according to actual crime stats (Washington Post), Senator Who Cited Snowball In Climate Change Debate Cites Scripture To Back Himself Up (Huffington Post), Canadas Environment Minister Is Now Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Motherboard)