PM Justin Trudeau visits Masjid Al-Salaam

Photo by Samantha Moss

Justin Trudeau is unlike many politicians-maybe, more accurately, there is not another politician like him. A youthful crowd, interspersed with families and the more experienced members of our community, attests to the idea that Trudeau is inspiring many. Beyond being hilariously good looking and suspiciously normal, his lack of cynicism and practical idealism leaves him in the strange bracket of ‘inspiring politician.’

At home, the UK, we have a Prime Minister who simultaneously looks like a ham and a condom. David Cameron is more notable for allegedly putting ‘little Dave’ in a dead pig’s head when at university and for forgetting which football team he supports, than for, well, anything else really. Yours is a former teacher, a boxer and is famed for stripping off for charity. Aside from any real practical reasons why one should be inspired, Trudeau has all those intangible things that sway the head and the heart.

That’s why I am green with jealousy that you lovely Canadians have a dreamboat as your PM. He is the sort of guy who leaves one international student, Chris Chiam, only able to stammer, on the Prime Minister’s arrival at Masjid al Salaam mosque, “this is better than Niagara.”

What praise, what joyful moisture tickled his tear ducts.

Photo by Sofie Andreou
Photo by Samantha Moss

Outside the mosque, a loyal band of Trudites waited in excited patience for a second glimpse. Inside, Prime Minister Trudeau was delivering a warm and compassionate speech, asserting convincingly what it means to be Canadian. When I think of my government talking in terms of Britishness, it sounds authoritarian and divisive, like a badly written dystopian novel.

As ever, Trudeau appealed to the heart. He commended Dr. Kenzu Abdulla, President of the Kawartha Muslims Religious Association (KMRA), and the rest of the KMRA for their resilience and “exemplary Canadianess” in the aftermath of the attack on the Mosque, for the response of the whole Peterborough community.

Trudeau was there to celebrate the reopening of the mosque, following November’s arson attack and the subsequent repairs. He called the attack “reprehensible.” As he said, the attack ‘does not define this community, and it doesn’t define Peterborough and it doesn’t define Canada. What does define us, is what came after.”

After the arson attack on the mosque, $110,536 were donated towards a campaign to fund repairs. It was ended after just four days, having exceeded the required $80,000, with much of the surplus going to other charitable Peterborough causes.

Trudeau also appealed to the head, too. In congratulating the Peterborough community for its generous response to the attack, he was not talking about some aspiration or liberal dream. This tolerance and plurality is a fact of life.

Maryam Monsef, who noted that the “fundamental principles of diversity and inclusion continue to be the Canadian way,” is herself is testament to that fact. Monsef came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan, and is now a leading member of parliament.

12552521_10153354688716463_5663878882702401944_n-2This inclusion continues in strength, as Trudeau praised Peterborough for the way it welcomes new Canadians, a reference to the recently arrived Syrian refugee families. Ours “is a community that proudly welcomed Maryam Monsef…when she herself was a refugee” said Trudeau, and it is in this same vein that we can be proud to welcome more refugees.

After our saviour had left, doing his second round of selfies and handshakes, the genuine enthusiasm for Trudeau was clear, as was his enthusiasm for the job.

So far, in a way that no other leader I can think of has, he is creating a strong national identity in a positive, inclusive sense, unlike many leaders who’ve tried to cultivate strong national identities around the world. Opening the investigation into dead and disappeared indigenous women is one such example.

He leaves me wondering whether I, a supposed Brit, feel more Canadian than any other nationality. I will leave the final word to another international student, Oliver Henderson, who noted remarked, half in jest, “Justin Trudeau, eighth wonder of the world.”