“The Sorriest Prime Minister”

Apologies of Justin Trudeau


  • Freja Kjærby Aarhus University




politeness theory, apology theory, speech acts, political apologies, sociolinguistics


In contemporary political discourse, political apologies have emerged as a critical linguistic tool allowing politicians to sway and manipulate public perception. Especially the act of historical apology has been on the rise. This article examines the apology strategies of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and how Trudeau modifies his apologies when apologizing for personal offenses versus historical transgressions. Drawing on politeness theory, the article suggests that Trudeau apologizes differently when apologizing for personal offenses than for historical transgressions. The article asserts that Trudeau’s personal apologies are marked by non-apology and face-saving strategies, whereas his historical apologies are more performative. This contrast underlines a strategic approach to apologizing, suggesting that Trudeau strategically leverages historical apologies to bolster his image as a progressive politician and minority ally. The article claims that, through these linguistic tactics, historical apologies, particularly historical apologies, serve as powerful means for shaping and perpetuating a desired political identity.


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How to Cite

Kjærby, F. (2024). “The Sorriest Prime Minister”: Apologies of Justin Trudeau. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (10), 26–37. https://doi.org/10.7146/lev102024144282