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‘How hard is being prime minister?’ Trudeau takes questions from North Vancouver students

Being a teacher stayed with him as the frame to engage with the world, the prime minister said Tuesday at Sutherland Secondary

“What’s your favourite hockey team?” … “Who are three people that helped you succeed as a young man?”

Not exactly questions that reporters or your average Canadian adult might want to ask the country’s leader, but a dialogue between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and students at a North Vancouver high school did provide some candid responses, and even a few tears.

Sandwiched amid a media blitz in B.C. on Tuesday, Trudeau stopped by the library at Sutherland Secondary in the early afternoon, surrounded by a crowd of curious high schoolers.

After staff directed the din of excited youth to quiet, the prime minister made his way through the room in front of a wall lined with colourful book covers. There, he embraced school counsellor Bhashy Pather, whom Trudeau attended UBC with when learning to become a teacher.

“I loved it,” he said of his five years teaching in the Vancouver area.

“As I went on to do different things, being a teacher stayed with me as the frame to engage with the world,” Trudeau said. “A good teacher isn’t someone who has all the answers.… Good teachers focus on empowering you to figure out the answers for yourself.”

After the floor opened to questions, one student asked: “How hard is it being prime minister?”

“It’s got some really weird, hard moments,” Trudeau replied. “But it’s also a job in which you get to be surrounded by these amazing, smart, interesting people who are drawn to it – for the most part – for the right reasons, that they want to have a positive impact on the world.”

“We’re making decisions right now that are going to have an impact, for real, in 10 years or 30 years,” he said. “Even though we’re stuck in a very, very short-term cycle … a four year cycle of government, the things that actually matter are the things that are going to resonate for decades.”

Another student asked if Trudeau could have a conversation with one person, who would it be.

“Alive or dead?” the prime minister asked.

“Dead,” the student replied.

Welling up, Trudeau said that he would do almost anything to have a conversation with his dad, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

“Your parents want the best for you, and they won’t get to see everything you do in life,” he said. “So be gentle with them now, and be patient with them because they’re just figuring this out as you guys are.”

When another student asked what Trudeau’s favourite hockey team is, the Canadian leader pulled up a pant leg to reveal a Montreal Canadiens sock.

“I didn’t plan on this,” he said.

And what position would Trudeau play on the ice?

“We wouldn’t want me to play hockey,” Trudeau said to a room of laughing teenagers. “Know what you’re good at, and do what you’re good at, and enjoy watching others who are great at what they do.”