If you could ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau anything, what would you ask him?
Over the weekend, Today’s Parent asked parents and kids on social media what they’d ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I naturally asked my own kids, expecting some thought-provoking questions. You see, in our house, my husband and I don’t always see eye to eye on political issues, so there’s always a lively debate around the dinner table on topics ranging from taxation to the military to health care reform. When I asked my eight-year-old son, Isaac, and five-year-old daughter, Gillian, what they’d like to ask Trudeau, their answers surprised me.
Isaac’s question: “Do you want to see the new Star Wars movie?”
Gillian’s question: “What do you want for Christmas?”
So much for in-depth questions on Syria or Country of Origin Labelling. With a bit of coaxing, I got “What do you like most about being prime minister?” from my daughter and “Do you like cats or dogs?” from my son. Some real junior politicos I’m raising here. Reluctantly, I submitted them to Maclean’s and was shocked when we received an invitation to attend the Maclean’s Town Hall with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on December 16. There was no guarantee my kids’ questions would be included in the Town Hall, but, nevertheless, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
If you’ve ever tried to wrangle your kids into clean, sensible clothing and expect perfect behaviour from them, you know that’s a tall order. Add in the pressure of having your kids on live TV and, you know, possibly meeting the prime minister of Canada and let’s just say we were all a little stressed in the lead-up to #mactownhall. My kids decided to roll around on the floor with our dog before we left (and we don’t have a lint roller) and insisted on going to the bathroom literally two minutes before the studio was about to be locked down for the prime minister’s arrival. My stress level was through the roof, so we did what we do best when we arrived at the National Arts Centre: We got silly.
I’d hoped Isaac and Gillian would be thoroughly engaged in the Town Hall, but they’re kids—they got the yawns and the fidgets. Isaac whispered loudly that he couldn’t understand the French answers. I bribed them with promises of ice cream if they’d just sit still for another 55 minutes. Isaac finally got his opportunity to “grill the PM” as #mactownhall wrapped up (see video above).
After the cameras stopped rolling, Gillian started to melt down, disappointed that she didn’t get to ask her question, which she had rehearsed on the two-hour drive to Ottawa. But what happened next made an already-memorable day amazing: With the help of Maclean’s managing editor Sue Allan, Gillian was able to meet the prime minister and find out what was on his Christmas wish list. He would like a good book, some socks and Lego. The Lego is a tradition—his mom has given him some every Christmas for the last 40 years.
What struck me most about the experience was that Justin Trudeau is not only our prime minister but also a parent. And in that brief moment, my kids had his undivided attention.