2021 with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Adam Scotti
11 min readDec 28, 2021


Photos by Adam Scotti

Back to that work from home life. Ottawa. 2021/01/04

2021 started much the same way as most of 2020 went — the pandemic hampering any sense of normalcy, restrictions around the country and work from home orders.

Looking back, I realize I did not see my work colleagues very much until after the April-July lockdown in Ontario. It was a lonely time for all of us as we hunkered down to protect our most vulnerable and our healthcare systems, something I feel is reflected in this storyline. I have been fortunate to have a front-row seat to history.

None of what I share is vetted by my office, and I am grateful they trust me enough to tell the story as I see it. So here we go, a (slightly longer than I hoped for) look back on what my year was like working alongside Prime Minister Trudeau during an unprecedented time.

Back to that familiar press conference spot outside of his home. Ottawa. 2021/01/05
Lunchtime. Ottawa. 2021/01/07
Ottawa. 2021/01/08
The first virtual swearing-in for cabinet ministers took place during a winter shuffle. Ottawa. 2021/01/12
That work-from-home look for videotaping. Ottawa. 2021/02/04
My winter ride to work. I love taking public transit, but with COVID around, I opted to try my hand at winter cycling and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Ottawa. 2021/02/05
PM speaks with Prime Minister Modi about vaccine supply during a phone call from Rideau Cottage. Ottawa. 2021/02/10
International summits looked slightly different. Ottawa. 2021/02/19
As did bilateral meetings with our closest ally. Ottawa. 2021/02/23.
PM Trudeau is briefed prior to a press conference. Ottawa. 2021/03/05
The National Press Theatre changed locations to allow better distancing for all. This was the only time any of us would leave home for something other than groceries. Ottawa. 2021/03/09
Repetitive press conferences pushed the photographers to try seeing things differently each day. Some days we succeeded, other days, not so much. Ottawa. 2021
Bilateral meetings in the COVID age. Montréal. 2021/03/15
Ottawa. 2021/03/19
Top: Our offices as third party in Centre Block shortly after winning the 2015 election. We had a chance to visit the renovation worksite this year. A reminder that we are only in these offices for so long. Ottawa. 2021/03/19
Thumbs up to travelling once again. We only left town twice before going back into lockdown in April. Ottawa. 2021/03/22
PM Trudeau and advisors following a brief with Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton. Ottawa. 2021/04/07
Virtual political conventions are considerably lower key with shorter days AND my own bed. I will never tire of finishing a day by checking in on my little one and in my own bed — as much as I miss the regular ridiculous pace of the job. Ottawa. 2021/04/10
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, ahead of tabling her first budget. She is the first woman to occupy the post of Minister of Finance. Ottawa. 2021/04/19
Unfortunately, the House of Commons was still under restrictions for this historic moment. Ottawa. 2021/04/19
PM Trudeau catches up with his mother during a FaceTime from his office in West Block. Ottawa. 2021/04/20
PM Trudeau speaks with President Biden. Topics covered: climate crisis, COVID-19, vaccines and the arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China. Ottawa. 2021/04/21
PM Trudeau and his wife Sophie received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses at a pharmacy in Ottawa. 2021/04/23
Between restrictions and the virtual life, we didn’t see our colleagues in person for the better part of the year. Every meeting was either a phone call or video call. Ottawa. 2021/04/30
I have always found it amusing how low-tech his work binders are. Ottawa. 2021/05/18
Shoes, flowers and stuffed animals were placed around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill to honour 215 children whose remains were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. Ottawa. 2021/06/01
RCAF01 Airbus en route to Cornwall, United Kingdom, ahead of the G7. This was our first time leaving the country in more than a year. 2021/06/10
Honour guards look slightly different in the COVID era. Cornwall, UK. 2021/06/10
I will always love how chaotic behind-the-scenes can seem. As PM Trudeau met President Macron, staff had to wait until after the photo-op with media to place chairs for the other meeting participants. Cornwall, UK. 2021/06/12
Leader portraits: COVID edition. I lucked out with everyone looking into my lens for a split second during different media opportunities — the Sony A9ii’s rapid-fire frame rate came in handy to catch the momentary glances. Cornwall, UK. 2021/06/11–12
I generally find the in-between moments to be far more interesting. Cornwall, UK. 2021/06/12
Sometimes motorcade movements require me to hop in the car with the PM. While not ideal, I try to make the best of it with a different angle. Brussels, Belgium. 2021/06/15
PM Trudeau and his protective detail land in Ottawa. Canada still had a mandatory 14-day quarantine in place for those returning home. Ottawa. 2021/06/15
PM Trudeau braces himself for what I can honestly say was one of our most painful Covid tests to date. Ottawa. 2021/06/15
My quarantine view of the PM as he continued to work through his own quarantine at home. Ottawa. 2021/06/18
Kids will be kids. Ottawa. 2021/07/01
PM Trudeau, Ella-Grace and Hadrien stop by a lemonade stand on Canada Day. Ottawa. 2021/07/01
Mary May Simon being announced as the next Governor General. She is the first Indigenous person to hold the office. Gatineau. 2021/07/06
Cowessess. 2021/07/06
PM Trudeau takes part in a landmark signing ceremony to return child welfare responsibilities to Cowessess First Nation. Cowessess. 2021/07/06
I will never tire of the PM helping people move furniture. I will note that he often mocks me for not helping and taking photos of it all instead. Hamilton. 2021/07/20
The up-close selfie requests have always been strange to me, and even more so following the events of the past year. Hamilton. 2021/07/20
Usher of the Black Rod, Greg Peters, leads PM Trudeau down a back staircase in the Senate prior to the installation ceremony for the Governor General. I love the back of house we see versus what is seen during these big ceremonies. Ottawa. 2021/07/26.
Ottawa. 2021/07/26.
Chief of Staff Katie Telford checks her phone during a briefing prior to the PM visiting Governor General Mary May Simon to kick off Canada’s 44th general election. Ottawa. 2021/08/15
Ottawa. 2021/08/15
Ottawa. 2021/08/15
Ella-Grace and Hadrien sneak a few candies while their brother Xavier gets busted by his parents for doing the same a few seconds earlier. Ottawa. 2021/08/15
Gotta love when kids are in the background at any event. Nothing will ever go as planned. Markham. 2021/08/17
Always looking for something different. Vancouver. 2021/08/18
Campaigning was different. Cloverdale. 2021/08/18
Victoria. 2021/08/19
Victoria. 2021/08/19
Probably the first time any of us used physical phone books in a very long time, or remembered they were a thing. Calgary. 2021/08/19
PM Trudeau stops to wish Dunerci Caceres a happy (redacted) birthday on his return to Ottawa. Ottawa. 2021/08/20
Former classmates of Minister Anand asked the PM to take their photo with her. Halifax. 2021/08/23
PM Trudeau hops on a Vancouver city bus for a brief second to say hello. His RCMP detail did not see that one coming. Vancouver. 2021/08/25
Campaign plane. Vancouver to Quebec City. 2021/08/25
PM Trudeau hugs Merzhad Zarei, father to one of the PS752 victims, during a stop in Richmond Hill. 2021/08/27
We love to collect art for the campaign bus. Nobleton. 2021/08/27
I don’t know which moment I found more horrific — a child shouting “f**k you c**t” to the PM or watching a father use his daughter as a shield between himself and police. One journalist asked me if I would photograph any of this, thinking that I would not because it isn’t a great look. From my perspective, it is all part of the story I continue to tell for better or for worse. These photos are a collection of various protests seen throughout a two-week period. I found it odd that they were so angry and then all of a sudden stopped showing up.
Katie Telford speaks with staff during a phone call from Mississauga. The campaign was dealing with protestors who had shown up to an event, preventing the PM from making an appearance due to security concerns. Bolton. 2021/08/27
PM Trudeau speaks with media at a baseball field in Brampton to address the cancellation of an event due to protestors. 2021/08/27
PM Trudeau delivers cakes to staffer Chris MacMillan and a retiring journalist on the flight home to Ottawa. 2021/08/27
My little one got to explore the “pane” before departure one day. Ottawa. 2021/08/29
PM Trudeau writes in a journal on the flight from Ottawa to Cambridge. 2021/08/29
Iqaluit. 2021/08/30
A village elder borrows PM Trudeau’s jacket during a campaign stop in Iqaluit. 2021/08/30
I promise we try to stay on time as much as possible. Sudbury. 2021/08/31
Canada as seen through campaign bus windows. 2021
PM Trudeau launches the campaign’s platform virtually from Toronto. 2021/09/01
Toronto. 2021/09/01
Toronto. 2021/09/01
PM Trudeau rock climbs as a pre-debate workout in Montréal. 2021/09/02
Pre-debate walk on the mountain. Montréal. 2021/09/02
Montréal. 2021/09/02
Montréal. 2021/09/02
Access being limited for debates, I am back to photographing screens. Montréal. 2021/09/02
PM Trudeau says hello to people whose street was closed as leaders were taking part in the TVA debates across the way. Montréal. 2021/09/02
Staff gather to look at the protestors blocking the way in Newmarket. 2021/09/05
Even in a sea of protestors, these supporters were very happy to say hello to the PM. Newmarket. 2021/09/05
PM Trudeau thanks hospital workers in Ottawa. 2021/09/09
Getting to hang out with kids is always special. It reminds us of home and reminds us who we are working for at the end of the day. Mississauga. 2021/09/11
Lunch stop. Mississauga. 2021/09/11
Drive-in rally. Oakville. 2021/09/12
Relatable. Vancouver. 2021/09/13
Port Coquitlam. 2021/09/13
“Hurricane” Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s mayor for 36 years, former Prime Minister Chrétien and PM Trudeau head into a rally in Brampton. Both Hazel and “Mr. C” are quite the personalities and it is always fun to have them around. 2021/09/14
Brampton. 2021/09/14
Campaign plane. Halifax to Fredericton. 2021/09/15
Sometimes I misread a situation and end up stuck in everyone’s shot. I try to avoid it as best I can, but sometimes it makes for an interesting photo before I quickly get out of the way. Trois Rivières. 2021/06/16
Don’t think I ever anticipated people inviting the PM for a drink and a toast as he walks past a restaurant. Québec. 2021/09/16
As a sun-shy and beer-loving redhead, I really think these people had the right idea during a rally in London. 2021/09/17
Hamilton. 2021/09/17
Hamilton. 2021/09/17
Unionville. 2021/09/18
Navdeep and Bram Bains take in their last rally with PM Trudeau. Minister Bains announced he was not seeking re-election earlier in the year. I think he couldn’t take Tommy and I beating him in tennis whenever he came to Ottawa. Peterborough. 2021/09/18
Winnipeg. 2021/09/19
Always tough to find the right virtual set up at the last minute. Winnipeg. 2021/09/19
PM Trudeau speaks with Katie Telford in Montréal on election day. 2021/09/20
Hadrien and PM Trudeau watch news coverage on election night in Montréal. 2021/9/20
PM Trudeau takes a phone call from Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. Montréal. 2021/09/20
Speech prep. Montréal. 2021/09/20
Backstage at 1:03am. Montréal. 2021/09/21
End of day. 1:31am. Montréal. 2021/09/21
Thanking his constituents in Montréal’s Papineau riding. 2021/09/21
Annnnnd back to work. Ottawa. 2021/09/22
PM Trudeau is briefed about final plans to bring Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor home. Ottawa. 2021/09/23
Staff track flights as they await the return of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig to Canada. Ottawa. 2021/09/24
Ottawa. 2021/09/24
Calgary. 2021/09/25

In an interview with Mercedes Stephenson, Global News, the PM spoke of this moment:

But that one moment that touched me perhaps more than anything else was when Michael Kovrig turned to me and said “thank you for getting me home, but thank you also for staying true to what Canada is and stands for as one of the good guys while you were doing everything you could to get us home.”

It was surprisingly emotional on a personal level, because as a leader, as a Prime Minister, you want to do the right thing. You know what the right thing is, but there’s a human cost. These two Canadians were stuck in terrible conditions, totally arbitrarily, and there was at least a theoretical way of me taking shortcuts and backroom deals to get them home…… but I knew… I felt that you had to do the right thing, and we stayed the course on the right thing, and to hear one of the Michaels say to me, you did the right thing was satisfying on a personal level in ways that surprised even me.

Calgary. 2021/09/25
Calgary. 2021/09/25

From my side of things, this was truly a once-in-a-career moment to be part of and to capture. Coupled with the exhaustion from the campaign ending less than a week prior, the years of watching my mother deal with consular cases as a government official, knowing how much work led to this moment, and to know what these two men had gone through — it was very special for all involved.

AND I needed it to wrap up so I could make it home for my former colleague and somewhat-friend Tommy’s wedding. I had one job: be a witness and sign a paper. Thankfully I made it just five minutes into the ceremony AND they understood the ridiculousness this job sometimes demands.

Photos or it didn’t happen — kind of a professional motto. Made it just in time! Photos by my “Number One” Alex Tétreault.
Cabinet selection and moving magnets around. Ottawa. 2021/09/29
He walks at an inhumane pace — you can tell by everyone else running. I have worn through more pants than I care to admit as I try to keep up. Ottawa. 2021/10/13
Cabinet selections. Ottawa. 2021/10/14
Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc. 2021/10/18
Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc. 2021/10/18
Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc. 2021/10/18
The last day or two in the transition office finishes with ministers being offered their cabinet posts. Ottawa. 2021/10/21
Ministers being offered their respective cabinet posts. This is something my father never captured during his time with Prime Minister Mulroney. Something my father and I often talk about is how the scope of the photographer’s job continues to change — all to tell a more complete story. Ottawa. 2021/09/21
Karina Gould reacts to being offered her Cabinet post. Ottawa. 2021/09/21
I am always looking for different angles when we are stuck in a media pen. Minister Jaczek seen here reflected in a mirror at Rideau Hall. Ottawa. 2021/10/26
Pen malfunction. Ottawa. 2021/10/26
Princess Margriet and PM Trudeau pay their respects at Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands. Princess Margriet was born in Ottawa’s Civic Hospital during the Second World War. The hospital ward was temporarily declared extraterritorial to ensure that she would not be born in Canada and would still able to inherit Dutch citizenship. The Netherlands donated tulips to Canada as a thank you, kicking off what is the Tulip Festival in Ottawa each year. 2021/10/29
Rotterdam, Netherlands. 2021/10/29
Sometimes the lighting isn’t what you want it to be and you just make it work, sort of? The Hague, Netherlands. 2021/10/29
Other times you can really luck out. PM Trudeau seen here with Olaf Scholz, soon to be Germany’s next Chancellor in the coming weeks. Rome, Italy. 2021/10/30
Motorcade diaries — often it is the most that I see during our visits overseas. Netherlands, US, UK, Italy.
It is special to have an office on Parliament Hill, but I always found this office to have a better view. Ottawa. 2021/11/16
Sometimes you get the look that you have overstayed your welcome. Washington, USA. 2021/11/18
I was set up for the silhouette shot on the left and then this candid moment happened. Thankfully as I shoot raw files that save the full amount of data, I can kind of recover the image as much as the file will allow. Washington, USA. 2021/11/18
House of Commons rules do not allow us to capture such photos normally. As the chamber was not actually sitting yet, I was able to get a different view as members returned to the House of Commons in full for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Ottawa 2021/11/22
PM Trudeau reviews a map of flooding in Abbotsford. 2021/11/26
Clever (or tired?) photographers brought some chairs as they awaited the start of a delayed press conference. Ottawa. 2021/12/13
PM Trudeau speaks with staff before a phone call with Canada’s Premiers about the battle against the Omicron variant. Ottawa. 2021/12/14
PM Trudeau sits down with CBC’s Rosemary Barton for a year-end interview in Montréal. 2021/12/17
As the PM went virtual for his last press conference of the year, I watched on from a virtual ride along the Rideau Canal. Ottawa. 2021/12/23

Side projects:

After two years of Covid life, I promised to never take travel for granted again. Air travel still blows my mind and I try to remind myself to enjoy every flight.
We didn’t get out for many runs on our trips this year, but I still managed to add a few more photos to my ongoing project documenting our runs. Other than motorcades, it is usually the only time we get out in any given city or country. The photos are more about our environment than anything else. I often don’t even know the route or the city, so it becomes more of a sprint session for myself.
My father was finally able to scan some of his prints from his days working as Prime Minister Mulroney’s photographer — after much nagging on my part. As soon as he sent me a few images, they immediately reminded me of a few similar shots of my own. I probably saw some of these images once or twice as a kid looking through his photo albums, so it was special to be able to put them beside my own images from my time in the Prime Minister’s Office.


I made a big switch going from Canon to Sony this year. The ability to shoot completely silent with no concern for light flicker was life-changing for me, and I did not want to wait around for Canon or Nikon to potentially catch up.

My regular equipment is as follows: 2 Sony a9ii, Sony 16–35 f2.8, Sony 24–70 f2.8, Sony 70–200 f2.8.

During the campaign I used the Sony a7rIV and it was fun — but the files are just too large given the associated storage and backup costs.

Two memory card slots are essential because photographers live in fear of something messing up. Raw files to the SD card, lower res jpegs to the other.

As for archiving and what have you, I went into detail for that in my 2020 retrospective.