An Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau from Carolyn Klassen at Bergen and Associates Counselling in Winnipeg

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I’m no political wizard, so I have no political advice or wisdom to give you. Nada. Zip.  As a Canadian, however, I care about this country…and I care for it’s leaders. You are head of this very large collective family of Canada, and so I wanted to share a few things you and the rest of this family we call Canada.

Please read this picturing that we are all gathered round one very large dinner table together, as I share a few things that have been on my mind:

Your Dad

You’re going to have to allow us a few weeks to get used to you being “Prime Minister Trudeau”…and some are going to do a lot of comparing of you to your father. That might be hard. To be honest, right now when I hear the words “Prime Minister Trudeau”, my brain goes to a mental file that has a picture of your dad.

Give me a few weeks and that’ll change. It’ll change for all of us, I think.

As a therapist, I work with lots of folks. They tell me that it can be hard in this world to make your own way when you have well known parents. There will be some that will pressure you to fill your dad’s shoes.


Buy your own shoes and fill those. 

This world needs you to be you. Just as the world needs all of us to just be who we are. Feel free to use the wisdom you gained by being his son, but don’t let yourself feel trapped into anything because he was your dad.


A colleague of mine had a husband who bought a car.  He bought it fairly impulsively, and it was a 5 speed standard, and she didn’t drive a stick. She was disappointed.  And furious. But they were family.  They talked about it…she let him know how she felt about it.  Oh yes, she did. She was direct about her disagreement. Then they got about the business of making their lives work with this car payment for a vehicle she didn’t want to learn how to drive. Quite simply, she rolled with it. She was happier for it, I think. She didn’t create a life of resentment and bitterness for them both.  They actually still had a great marriage. She figured out how to be a team with him even though she didn’t agree. I learned something from that.

I think we can all learn something about figuring out how to make it work even when we disagree on some things.

Prime Minister Trudeau, there are a lot of Canadians who didn’t vote for you.  But I’m hoping Canadians can find a way to respect you as the head of us, even with disagreements.

Ultimately, we are all on the same team. We all want this country to be better than it is now.  We want everyone to have food to eat, a roof over their heads, and to feel respected and valued.  We want a world that has less conflict, and we want our country to make a positive difference in the world. I’m hoping we can pull together on the important things.

I’m hoping that when we disagree (and you will have about 35 million different opinions on most things I suspect), we can create a discourse which is courageous. I’m hoping it can be candid in a respectful way that opens dialogue rather than shuts it down.

I’m hoping we can be curious when others (including you) express different ideas than our own, rather than being judgemental.  I think when we are judgemental we shut down and can’t listen well to each other.  When people push their agendas so much that they aren’t listening to others, quite frankly, they aren’t much fun to work with. This actually compromises how their ideas are heard.

I’m hoping that Members of Parliament can be less about promoting their own party and criticizing the others, and more about making this country a better place.  I’m hoping that MP’s can appreciate positive movement, even, or maybe especially when, it comes on behalf of another party’s efforts.

Ultimately, government is about making our country and our world a better place for it’s inhabitants.  Listening–truly listening–is vital. Empathy and compassion go a long way.

I’m going to work to be gracious in my comments about you to others.  I’m going to make an effort to be respectful in conversation even when I disagree with you. I’m going to look for reasons to be grateful for you. I want to be understanding of your efforts, and curious about your policies. We belong to each other, part of one tribe…it’s not fair for us to pick on you, label you, or malign you. I’ll seek to do my part to make this country a better place, and not shoot easy criticism from the grandstands.

And even when I’m not sure I understand, I will choose to believe that you are doing the best job you can, and will endeavor to do my part to help make you a better Prime Minister. I want to support you in an informed way.

Your Family

You and the other candidates had a very long time before the election to campaign.  The intense schedule must have been relentless–hard on you and hard on your family, as it was for so very many candidates and their families. I’m guessing the first weeks of office will be incredibly full of all the prime ministerial duties that are now your responsibility, locally and internationally.

As someone who recognizes the value of rest and family, I’m hoping somewhere in there, you and the rest of the newly elected parliament can find some well deserved and needed moments of R and R and connection.

I can only imagine how very hard the political life is on a family. My son used to play at volleyball tournaments where Ben Harper was also playing.  I used to watch Prime Minister Harper watch our sons’ teams play…he would often be interrupted by folks wanting to shake his hand or have a photo taken.  I’m not sure us regular Canadians can appreciate the innumerable requests for your time.

I’m grateful your wife, Sophie supports you in this endeavour.  Having you be Prime Minister means that her life changes…as she takes on greater role of parenting, and works to be a supportive spouse–all in the public eye. With three little ones needing love and support and security like all children need, and with you travelling a bunch, it’s gonna be busy for her.

Remember that she needs your support too?

Remember that lots of people can work together to lead this great country of Canada, but only you can be Sophie’s husband, and only you can be Xavier, Hadrien, and Ella-Grace’s daddy.

They need you.

Don’t sacrifice your relationship with your family for the sake of this country, please.


Wow…you’ve got your work cut out for you, haven’t you?

I would think that being Prime Minister of Canada is a little like herding cats.  One of the greatest strengths of our country is that folks express their feelings and opinions very freely.

That makes us a difficult bunch to lead as well.

You are brand new at leading an entire country. When anybody else starts a job, they usually get a lot of time to settle in, listen a lot to get a sense of the job.  Some will be impatient…that’s OK. Take a deep breath while you’re settling in.

I want to invite you to remember how important it is to listen to your gut.  It’s vital to find a quiet space amongst the many folks who will tell you what do to. Give yourself permission to hear your own inner compass?

But give yourself permission to listen to those around you. Don’t try to do this “running a country thing” by yourself.  Nothing worthwhile in life should be done completely alone by any of us.

There will be a lot of support from people who care and want you to succeed.  You already know who some of your wisest, most faithful advisors are.  You will come across others who are equally wise and interested in you having the best knowledge to move forward–and who they are may surprise you.  I’m hoping you can discern who authentically has the best interests of the country at heart, especially when they say truths that are inconvenient or difficult to hear.

You will be the brunt of much criticism–that goes with the job. I’m hoping that you will hold fast onto who you are, knowing who you are is so much more than Prime Minister of Canada.  I’m hoping that you will know who you are is not defined by what you do. I’m hoping that you will have a few people who have earned the right to speak into your life that will remind you of who you really are, when everybody is telling you something else. Tend to your soul when life gets rough.

May these next years be fruitful and productive for you and for this fine country of ours.

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