News People Seven things you didn’t know about Justin Trudeau
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Seven things you didn’t know about Justin Trudeau

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On Friday the first of 25,000 Syrian refugees touched down in Toronto to begin the daunting, exciting and overwhelming process of resettling far away from home.

There to greet the plane full of 163 refugees was new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau sworn in with gender-equal cabinet
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Trudeau, 43, personally welcomed each of the new arrivals to his home country alongside government and opposition MPs.

“You are safe at home now,” Trudeau said to one man who expressed his happiness at finally feeling like he was “in a safe place”.

Soon after Trudeau’s display of compassion, “#WelcometoCanada” started trending on social media.

It was a moment that proved American Vogue‘s recent declaration that Trudeau, its January 2016 cover star, was the “new young face of Canadian politics” – maybe even politics in general.

Trudeau is the kind of politician made for magazine covers, with dashing good looks, a fascinating background and a forward-thinking approach that gets people talking.

His response when asked why his cabinet was half female – “because it’s 2015” – made headlines around the world, as did his cheeky Twitter flirting with the Queen of England.

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But despite his young age and relatively short political career, the Liberal Party leader has lived a fascinating life so far.

Here are seven little-known facts about Canada’s new PM.

1. He was destined to become PM from a young age

At just four months old, Trudeau was tipped to become prime minister by visiting US president Richard Nixon.

During a gala dinner in Ottawa in 1972, Nixon looked to Trudeau’s father, the then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and raised a toast to his infant son.

“Tonight we’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau,” Nixon said.

Prophecy fulfilled.

Baby Justin sticks out his tongue at his father; Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; from his mother's arms. Photo: Getty
Baby Justin sticks out his tongue at his father; Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; from his mother’s arms. Photo: Getty

2. He has a tattoo

Trudeau has been unafraid to show off his edgier side, revealing a fairly major bicep tattoo during a charity boxing match against a political opponent in 2012 (he won – of course).

“My tattoo is planet Earth inside a Haida raven,” he tweeted at the time. “The globe I got when I was 23; the Robert Davidson raven for my 40th birthday.”

Robert Davidson is a Canadian contemporary artist whose work is largely inspired by the culture of the Haida people, an indigenous people from the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America.

Trudeau's tattoo.
Trudeau’s tattoo.

3. He’s dabbled in acting

In 2007, Trudeau appeared in the CBC television miniseries The Great War as Talbot Mercer Papineau, a soldier killed during the Battle of Passchendaele.

Trudeau, who also has a degree in literature from McGill University, nabbed the lead role in the two-part series despite it being his first, and only, on-screen performance.

4. He was once a snowboard instructor 

An avid snowboarder, Trudeau spent the mid-1990s as an instructor in Whistler while attending the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

According to Transworld Snowboarding, he would crash on friends’ couches and often sleep in a van to be closer to the slopes.

During his 20s, Trudeau also worked as at a private school in Vancouver teaching French, drama, and math.

Trudeau on the slopes. Photo: Facebook
Trudeau on the slopes. Photo: Facebook

5. He’s a romantic

Trudeau initially delayed meeting his now wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau because he knew she was the one.

In his interview with US Vogue, the father-of-three admitted to ignoring an email she sent him in 2003 when they met after choosing a charity event in Montreal.

“I knew if I responded even slightly,” he explained, “we’d wind up going for coffee, and that would be the last date I’d ever have in my life.”

After they bumped into each other months later on the street, he apologised and asked her to dinner.

“I’m a dreamer and a romantic,” Grégoire-Trudeau told Vogue, “and at the end of dinner, he said, ‘I’m 31 years old, and I’ve been waiting for you for 31 years.’ And we both cried like babies.”

The pair were married two years later.

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January 2016 issue of Vogue magazine. Photo: Norman Jean Roy.
Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie in a photo from the January 2016 issue of Vogue magazine. Photo: Norman Jean Roy.

6. He lost his brother in an avalanche

In November 1998, Trudeau lost his youngest brother Michel to an avalanche at the age of 23.

He recounted the tragic incident in his 2014 memoir, Common Ground.

“In November 1998, I spent a week as a substitute teacher at Pinetree Secondary School in Coquitlam, about a half-hour’s drive east of Vancouver,” Trudeau wrote.

“The class had been a good group of kids, and by week’s end I was sorry to leave them. After saying my goodbyes on Friday the 13th, I drove back to my apartment, had dinner, and went to bed. I fell to sleep unaware that earlier that day, I had lost my little brother Michel.”

Michel had been backcountry skiing with friends when the avalanche took him and his friend into Kokanee Lake.

The tragedy prompted Trudeau to become a spokesman for avalanche safety, and drove his parents to bitter sadness.

“My mother endured horrific, debilitating grief at losing her son, compounded by and compounding her mental health issues. She went through an extremely difficult period that left her entire family struggling to help during the five or six years that followed his death,” he recounted in his memoir.

“My own opinion was that the lights began to dim in my father’s soul when Michel died. He recovered from his pneumonia within a few weeks, and even travelled a bit after that. But from the time we buried Michel until his own passing two years later, my father was never the same man.”

Justin (left) and his brother Michel in the back of their father's car in 1979. Photo: Getty
Justin (left) and his brother Michel in the back of their father’s car in 1979. Photo: Getty

7. His hair is a running joke in Canada

In the past, Trudeau’s long, shiny mane has been the butt of many a Conservative joke.

In one ad for the Tories, everyday people were shown inspecting Trudeau’s resume and deeming it inadequate.

“Nice hair though,” one of them says at the end.

During the election, one of the Liberal party’s campaign videos centred on the fascination with their leader’s perfect tresses, joking that his fiscal plan for Canada was just as great as his hair.

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