News / Ottawa

Justin Trudeau, Ban Ki-moon visit Glebe Collegiate Institute

Prime minister and UN secretary-general took questions from Grade 12 students on the mission against ISIL, refugees and climate change

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(right)and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon(left)participate in a student assembly at Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa on Thursday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(right)and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon(left)participate in a student assembly at Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa on Thursday.

It was far from a typical school assembly.

Glebe Collegiate Institute students gathered in their school auditorium Thursday afternoon to welcome Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“I can’t tell you how I would have died for this when I was in high school,” Catherine McKenna, environment minister and Ottawa Centre MP, said as she kicked off the event.

“This isn’t a typical meeting of your international club. This is something you will tell your kids about one day.”

The school’s World Issues class had been drafting a letter with questions to send Trudeau and Ban. With two days’ notice, they found out the men would visit in person.

The men entered to a standing ovation and shouts of “Trudeau, Trudeau” from the auditorium filled with students from Grades 10 to 12.

Everyone seemed happy to be there. Trudeau, who is also the minister of youth, said one of his “favourite things” is listening to young people and he doesn’t get to do it enough.

And Ban called the visit the “most important, most exciting” part of his three-day trip to Canada.

Trudeau and Ban fielded four student questions, on topics including Syrian refugees, climate change and Canada’s role in the fight against ISIL.

Grade 12 student Max Hirsch, who asked about Canada’s role in a world of increasingly global conflicts, said Trudeau’s answer was “very good, very concise.

“I know some people tend to dance around the question. He answered it and elaborated, actually.”

Adam Gutai, a Grade 12 student who asked about the environment, said Trudeau’s answer was good, but he would have liked more detail.

“There were some finer details I would have liked him to clarify on … exactly how one transfers an economy that’s based on fossil fuels to renewable energies,” he said. "But overall, he knows a lot about the subject, so I appreciate the answer."

The secretary-general was effusive in his praise of Trudeau, who has pledged that Canada will re-engage at the UN.

“He has a vision. Canada has a greater and better future under his leadership,” Ban told the crowd.

He met with Trudeau on Parliament Hill Thursday morning. After his visit to Glebe, he was to visit the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, followed by a dinner at the Canadian Museum of History.

He’s scheduled to visit Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall Friday morning.

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