The day I met Justin Trudeau

Last month I went to the Globe Series Conference, which happens every two years uniting business people from all over the world. The intention behind this bi-annual meeting is to promote sustainable development within different types of businesses: from promoting electric cars to developing a more sustainable magazine. It’s a way of promoting sustainability, like The Didi Society enforces the importance of Social Justice learning.

There were over 50 countries represented at Globe Series, and the mix of culture and beliefs had one thing in common: to preserve our world and learn how to use natural resources intelligently so there is some left for future generations. This understanding that we belong to a place where there’s not only you and me, but there is more… There’re our neighbors, there’re our families, your family, your friends, the family of our friends… And somehow everyone is connected. So the actions that we take here will have an impact somewhere in the world (Remember this).

So I was there… On the line, waiting to enter in the room Trudeau was going to speak. Standing in front of me, there was this man… and he started talking with me. How many times does someone start talking to you in the elevator and all you do is talk about the weather? Well, that often happens with me too. But this man, Bill, started asking me what I was doing there, where I am from, my expectations. And we had a REAL conversation. It was nice, because I got to know Bill and he got to know me and we were not bored waiting in line to see Justin Trudeau.

We finally started walking towards the room with great expectations from everyone there. Unfortunately, I lost Bill when we were getting closer to the door as there was a huge walk in and out from different people. So, I was there… Really close to the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It was a great speech. Everyone I talked to loved it.

Added to the keynote speech from the Canadian’s Prime Minister, Ziya Tong, Discovery Channel’s co-host of Daily Planet, also interviewed Trudeau right there in front of thousands of delegates from all over the world. The highlight of this conversation between Tong and Trudeau was when she confronted him: “How is Energy East even on the table?” about the proposed pipeline that will supply oil from Western Canada and North Western United States to Eastern Canada. “We all know that we need to get beyond fossil fuels”, Trudeau said, “We are simply not there yet”. As a way to explain how he is dealing with that, he completes:  “And in the meantime, in the transition, not only do we need jobs and growth in the economy, we need to be figuring out how to extract and develop our natural resources, including fossil fuels, in smarter, cleaner, more responsible ways”.

Tong asked what millions of Canadians, millions of people from any country in the world wanted to ask. She really put forward the connection between all of us humans on what to expect from our government, from each other, and in my case: from the government of the country I’m living in.

Not only that, Tong emphasized the importance of considering the impact of what we do on people. And that’s exactly what The Didi Society advocates for. It does not matter if you are talking about gender equality and how women are starting to be more present in leadership roles (including in Justin Trudeau’s government), fair trade and the importance of giving fair opportunities and wages to workers from any country, human rights and global access to clean water and sanitation, and finally in our case here, sustainable development: and as Trudeau was able to push the idea that we do need to develop the country, and for it use natural resources that have an impact on people. Fortunately, the Prime Minister recognized that we need to develop in “more responsible ways”.

“More responsible ways” means for me that we are considering others. And considering others means, as I said earlier, we are connected to each other. The connection I’ve seen between people in this conference is actually interesting: how many handshakes are you from The Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Well, I was lucky at Globe because I was at only one hand shake from him. Imagine that you go to a conference where you don’t know anyone. That was my case. But remember Bill? I met Bill again later on that same day.

Bill was my connection at Globe Series, and I was his connection. We only knew each other there. I was actually following the steps of Ziya Tong and confronting the Northern Gateway Pipeline Vice President of Customer Care when Bill saw me again.

So we started walking in the Expo, not me and the pipeline guy… me and Bill. And we were talking about how great it would be not to have oil pipelines all over Canada, and how great was Trudeau’s speech, when Bill told me he actually knew Trudeau and that he had worked on the Prime Minister’s election campaign. “Trudeau is walking through the Expo right now”, Bill said, “You should go and meet him”.

Again, there was I, so close to the Prime Minister. I was surrounded of RCMP’s officials and many enthusiasts wanting to meet Canada’s leader. But it was my turn. A Brazilian landed in Canada, running away from the politics practiced in my home country, but proud “to be part” of a new country that received me so well.

And that’s exactly what I told Trudeau “We Brazilians are really happy for everything that you’ve been doing for Canada, and we wish we had someone like you there”. I got a smile, a hand shake, and a tap on the shoulder from Trudeau… And of course, hope that with today’s leadership in Canada, people like Bill that are not afraid to talk and make new friends, and people like Tong that don’t fear confronting the right leaders we will be able to make the right connections, and always remember that everything we do will impact me and you.

The day I met Trudeau was like this. Reinforcing the idea that we are all connected, and you don’t need to be at only one handshake from the Prime Minister to learn how to care for others or understand that your actions have a reaction.

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