What happened when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited this (virtual) class

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-01-28 12:00

All thanks to their teacher’s tweet

It’s not every day that one of your virtual classmates is the prime minister of Canada.

Just ask the students from Alison Palmer’s Grade 6 class at the Victoria School in Edmonton.

When they attended class on Jan. 5, their virtual guest was none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who used to be a teacher, was back in class virtually. (Images submitted by Alison Palmer)

But Trudeau wasn’t in the virtual class to learn about social studies, math or history.

Instead, he spent an hour answering questions about his job and political promises.

“[Politicians] need to hear what people have to say, especially children, because we are the future.” - Margot Short, 11

The class of 32 students asked Trudeau about COVID-19, climate change and boil-water advisories.

How did this happen?

Back in November 2020, Palmer replied to a tweet about the prime minister’s daily COVID-19 news conferences.

This tweet was then liked by Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford.

A chief of staff is responsible for helping the prime minister with daily tasks and planning.

Seeing that someone close to the prime minister liked the tweet, Palmer took a chance and asked Telford if Trudeau would visit her class.

Teacher Alison Palmer tweets to Katie Telford and asks if the Prime Minister would visit. Katie Telford replies DM me and let's see what we can do.

Telford replied and made arrangements for the virtual visit.

Virtual visit opens up discussion

Months after the conversation on Twitter, Trudeau joined the class on Jan. 5.

Three students from Palmer’s Grade 6 class spoke to CBC Kids News to reflect on the experience.

Margot Short said more politicians need to talk to kids, as it is a ‘children’s right to be heard by adults.’ (Image submitted by Alison Palmer)

Margot Short, 11, said it was an exciting experience to have the leader of her country listen to her question.

Kaivalya Chavan, 11, echoed that feeling.

“I never thought I would actually see him in person or on a computer,” he said.

Questions asked and stories shared

The three students asked Trudeau questions that mattered to them.

Margot asked Trudeau about boil-water advisories on Indigenous reserves and she questioned if enough was being done to solve the problem.

There are currently 40 communities in Canada that don’t have access to clean drinking water.

Trudeau initially promised to get rid of all boil water advisories back in 2015.

Now it's looking like there will be at least 12 left in Canada by the spring.

“[Trudeau] said this spring most of the boil-water advisories will be gone, and I think that's really awesome,” she said.

Margot intends to pay attention to the news to see if that promise is kept.

Lola Walker, 11, wanted to know if he had a dog.

Lola Walker wants Trudeau to visit more classes so students can ask their questions and learn more about democracy. (Image submitted by Alison Palmer)

“He doesn't have a dog. He has two guinea pigs,” she said.

Impact of the visit

All three students said they had fun during the hour-long chat.

Margot and Kaivalya both are looking forward to voting and maybe even running for office one day.

“I want to be in his shoes, like, I want to be there,” said Kaivalya.

Kaivalya Chavan said the environment and banning plastics would be his top priority if he were to run for prime minister. (Image submitted by Alison Palmer)

And while Lola was excited for the visit, voting and politics aren’t top of mind for her just yet.

“I don't think it changed much, but I still think politics are cool and interesting,” she said.

All three students did agree on one thing.

More politicians and world leaders need to listen to kids and take time to talk to them.

“[Politicians] need to hear what people have to say, especially children, because we are the future,” said Margot.

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