Justin Trudeau's Common Ground,
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From the prologue of Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground
Common Ground by Justin Trudeau. Copyright © 2014 HarperCollins Canada, 2014

I have had the extraordinary opportunity to explore this nation at many points in my life—as a boy travelling with my father, as a young man going west for the mountains and teachers’ college, as the head of Katimavik, and now as a father and as a politician. Every journey has served to remind me of the kind of country we live in, the kind of physical distances we have to bridge, and the kind of abundant gifts that come with this land. Maps can’t provide any idea of the real scope of Canada, and air travel minimizes everything that our country offers. You can’t appreciate the sweep of the Prairie breadbasket or the engineering achievement of Rogers Pass from thirty thousand feet. You need to be at ground level, where you can not only explore the land but meet the people who cherish the land as much as I do.

Too many Canadians emphasize their regional differences and forget the things that unite us. We are one people who speak two official languages and share a host of others. For all our differences of culture, history, and geography, we are bound together by shared values that define the Canadian identity. I have a deep-seated love and respect for Canada and recognize that we have extraordinary potential. Everything about my life has emphasized and reinforced that fact. Everything I propose to do in my political career is built on that premise.

However, it’s a potential that is easily wasted and, once gone, isn’t easily recovered. The last few years have seen this country’s potential greatness fade in the shadow of divisive politics and a focus on seizing power for its own sake. That’s not what Canada needs, nor what Canadians want. Our country was built on better goals than that, guided by a vision that was both unique and encouraging to people all over the world.

This risk to our potential is among the reasons that led me to enter politics and to make my case for a different approach to guiding Canada forward. In many ways, my approach reflects the circumstances of my upbringing and my awareness that we need to share not just the bounty of our land but the responsibility of protecting and enhancing that bounty. We need to both prize and hone our acclaimed sense of acceptance and inclusion and our respect for democratic values. We need to honour the priceless heritage of this broad and beautiful land, and its promise of a rich future for our children and grandchildren.

If I sound a bit rhapsodic, you’ll have to forgive me. I tend to get that way about things I love and treasure. I wrote this book to explain why I feel this way about our country and how I learned to lead. My vision for this country is very much shaped by my experiences and the influences upon me—Trudeau and Sinclair, father and mother, French and English, East and West. Just as every river is the sum of a hundred tributaries, so am I the product of many people and regions.

I am always a son, but today, I’m also a husband, a father, and a man passionate about his country. And if I wish to one day have the opportunity to lead Canada toward a future of justice, equality, and shared purpose, I feel I must tell you my story in my own words so that you can know better the man I am, far from the glare of politics. I’d like to share with you the sense of duty that propels me: to serve our country by fostering the common ground where every Canadian can find his or her own place within a strong and fair country.