Oh, Canada! Celebrating the Justin Trudeau Era.

I have a lot of loves, including my cats, sushi, wine and Sherlock Holmes. But today, for #NaBloPoMo Day Six, I’m all about politics, and the incredible event that took place in Canada this week.

I’m a political junkie, and have been following US and Canadian politics for more than 50 years. I can still remember, at age six, sitting in front of our tiny black and white TV in 1960 and intently watching the entire Kennedy-Nixon debate. I haven’t looked back since.

When I was 14, in 1968, I was swept up in the tidal wave of Trudeaumania that saw Pierre Elliot Trudeau rise to power as Canada’s 15th Prime Minister. I remember going to a huge rally in Montreal, wearing a gigantic Trudeau button and screaming myself hoarse.

And then…a miracle! Suddenly four or five burly guys lined up right in front of me and linked arms. I knew then and there that HE would be walking right by me. And as Trudeau and his entourage started to pass by the security detail, I lunged over the linked arms – and grabbed his hand. I didn’t let go until he turned around AND SMILED AT ME!!

My teenage heart almost exploded, and I didn’t wash that hand for two days…

Fast forward to this week. After a long, tumultuous, intense and often bitter election campaign, another Trudeau – Pierre’s charasmatic, articulate, people-loving and selfie-taking oldest son Justin – became our 23rd Prime Minister.

After almost a decade when it felt to me as if Canada had become a darker, more fearful, more suspicious, less inclusive country, I breathed a sigh of relief and shed many tears of joy as the new PM took his oath of office.

It sounds corny, but it really feels like the dawn of a new era. Take a look at this tweet that lists all the changes that Prime Minister Trudeau has introduced:

Image 2015-11-05 at 3.01 PM

Amazing.

And check out his answer when he was asked why he felt it was important to ensure gender parity in his new Cabinet.

2015, indeed. I hope Pierre is smiling, wherever he is. I haven’t stopped.

Four Years. Two Elections. One Hope.

Four years ago, on a very different Election Day, I spent many hours at the Obama HQ in San Mateo California entering in all the votes on a spreadsheet. It was the culmination of volunteer activity I had done on the Senator’s behalf while I was still living in California.

It was an extraordinary time to be in the US. The air was thick with hope, of renewed energy after years of despair, fear and anger. Surely something was about to change, and God, did my beloved second home need that change. I felt it. I wanted it as badly as anyone who could actually vote. I hadn’t felt this kind of euphoria since seeing my mother and her generation swept up in the JFK Camelot years.

And it happened. That night, after an exhausting day, I sat in my friends’ living room and watched the votes come in, state by state. For the first time in my life, I spent as much time watching the Twitter feed as I did the TV screen. And I was elated, crying with happiness, and full of hope.

I still have hope, four years later. It’s been a very hard four years for me, for family and friends, and for America and its embattled President. I’m no longer euphoric – I don’t think anyone is. The reality of a hate-filled, grasping, fractious and fractured government just wouldn’t allow for the sweeping change that Mr. Obama had envisioned. But on the eve of yet another Election night, when I’ll again watch the TV and the tweets, alone and farther away this time, I’m placing my hopes in the honesty, integrity, determination and goodness of the American people as they make a critical decision tomorrow. And I am praying.

  • I’m praying that everyone exercises their right to vote. I’m praying that no group, party or individual hinders that right through bureaucracy, bias or intimidation. I’m praying that everyone has the strength and resolve to mark their ballot, no matter what the obstacles are.
  • I’m praying that the rights of every individual – regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, education or income will be respected and cherished.
  • I’m praying that everyone receives the right to affordable health care for themselves and their families.
  • And I’m praying that all elected officials, no matter what their party or position, remembers  that they have been elected to serve their constituents – and not their party, special interests or themselves. (This one is taking the most energy, I’m afraid…)

I love the United States. I miss living and working there more than I can say. I love the people I’ve gotten to know there. And I want more than anything to see a country that works for the good of the entire nation. It will probably take time. But the true change, the change the country really needs, has to start tomorrow.

I have hope.