Why Trudeau Is The Smartest Man In Canada

- September 27th, 2012

justin-trudeau-reuters

 

I swore to myself I wasn’t going to write about Trudeau — probably ever, certainly not now in the run-up to his coronation as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

 

So many other people are writing so many words about him right now — hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people writing millions of words — that I felt there was no need for me to write any words at  all. All would have been said before I got my two cents in.

 

I lied. To myself, of course, because I never actually told anyone else I wasn’t going to write about Trudeau. But it’s just too hard to resist. Everyone I’ve talked to in the past two days has some opinion — usually strong and sometimes multiple, contradictory opinions — about Trudeau.

 

So I’m writing about him for the same reason that everyone is talking about him at the moment — he’s interesting. His (unannounced) candidacy for the Liberal leadership is the most exciting thing to happen to Ottawa since St. Jack Layton led the NDP to the Promised Land — the Official Opposition — in the last federal election.

 

There is a buzz and electricity about Trudeau at the moment that no other politician in Canada currently has. You can’t buy that or manufacture it or negotiate it or finagle it. It’s there straight-up or it isn’t. And Trudeau has it in spades.

 

He hasn’t always had it (at least we haven’t been aware he’s had it). It’s something that has grown and developed in the past 17 months since the May 2011 federal election put what seemed like the final nail in the coffin of the old, worn-out Liberal Party of Canada.

 

Even during that election, Trudeau was seen by most people as the charming and handsome but lightweight and inexperienced heir to the most polarizing political family name in Canada.

 

Of the many disparaging tags tied to Trudeau since he first ran for Parliament in 2008, my personal favourite is “Teenage Jesus.” It nicely summed up the whole package of negative opinion about him — young, privileged, earnest but a little goofy, shallow and basically just a slacker getting an easy ride because of his family name and connections.

 

But things have changed.

 

If, in May 2011, I had written the name “Trudeau” almost anyone reading that word would immediately think of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the 15th prime minister of Canada. His sons and his ex-wife might trail along as afterthoughts.

 

In this entire piece I have not so far used the name “Justin” once, only “Trudeau.” And I’m willing to bet the mental image that most people have had in their minds when seeing the word “Trudeau” is now Justin, the son, not Pierre, the memory.

 

Justin Trudeau has come of age. He’s taking over the family business — and name.

 

Win or lose in the next federal general election on (theoretically) Oct. 19, 2015, he’s making the right decision by running for the leadership of the fading, confused, broken Liberal Party of Canada now.

 

Why?

 

Because now is Trudeau’s time. Because there will be no Liberal Party of Canada left to lead after the next election if the Liberals don’t turn the tide of decline that’s gutted them in the past decade. (If the Liberals flatline again in 2015, the NDP will eventually take them over much as Reform took over the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada after the PC debacle of the 1990s.)

 

And because Trudeau has nothing to lose either. Most people (even his ardent supporters) expect that Trudeau will be chewed up and spit out in parliamentary debate by that heartless, steel-eyed Machiavellian schemer Stephen Harper. Whether they verbalize it or not, most people expect that a Liberal Party led by young, green Justin Trudeau will be outmanoeuvred, out-organized and out-dirtied by the well-oiled, ruthless, veteran Conservative Party war machine.

 

Don’t count on it — in either case.

 

A big step in the changing public perception of Justin Trudeau came with his surprise victory in a charity boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau on March 31 of this year.

 

We learned that he could take a punch and also dish it out. He won on a TKO in the third round. It was an unexpected conclusion and elevated many people’s assessment of Trudeau’s guts and stamina even though it was just a charity punch-up.

 

More telling than the outcome, however, was Trudeau’s analysis of the situation going into the confrontation.

 

Here’s what Trudeau told Maclean’s magazine writer John Geddes back in February 2012  as he was preparing for the fight against Brazeau:

 

“We actually weigh pretty much the same. My reach is significantly larger than his. The way things have been set up is everybody is convinced that this black belt in karate (Brazeau) with massive arms is going to clean up the pretty boy (Trudeau), because he grew up in the mean streets of Maniwaki and I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth, you know? That’s what everyone says, right? So as it stands I can’t lose. Even if I do actually lose I know I will have gone in and people said, ‘Well, there wasn’t a chance anyway.’

 

“Neither of us have ever actually been in a boxing match before. I’ve trained in boxing all my life, my dad taught me how to box early, and through my twenties I trained at various sorts of rough gyms in Montreal, mostly as just a way of keeping in shape. I even boxed out in Vancouver for a while. But I never stepped it up to full-on sparring, or even a real bout. Pat’s been talking quite openly about the fact that he plans on taking me down early. I expect him to come in very hard, very fast. I plan on allowing him to, because I can take a lot, and use my jab to try and keep him at a distance, and out-think him.”

 

All in all, it was an astute assessment of the situation and a game plan that ended in an upset victory. Perhaps even more tellingly, it’s a good indication how well Trudeau is served by his opponents underestimating his ability, determination and intelligence.

 

Justin Trudeau freely admits that he doesn’t have his father’s ferocious intellectual fire: He acknowledges that he often leads with his heart. But he is smart, perceptive and engaged.

 

He’s also been in Parliament substantially longer than his father was before PET became Liberal leader and prime minister in 1968. As with many other aspects of his resume, Justin Trudeau’s “inexperience” is overplayed by his condescending critics — including me.

 

And he really does have charisma. Not the flukey brand of Trudeaumania his father rode into the PMO in 1968, although that could come over the next two years.

 

Justin Trudeau is a genuinely warm, appealing and very likeable person. People are drawn to him and enjoy his company immensely, no matter what their party affiliation.

 

He has decided that now is his time, despite the daunting odds facing the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Much like his fight against Brazeau, Trudeau has decided he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

And it’s a very freeing position to be in. The various factions and power bases of the Liberal Party of Canada know they are probably screwed in the next federal election without a major dynamic shift. The disasters of the Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff eras have ensured that Trudeau will pretty much get to call his own shots once he wins the leadership.

 

It’s probably impossible that anyone named Trudeau can ever again become prime minister of Canada, given the undying animosity against the family name in Western Canada and the divisive legacy of his father’s fight against separatism in Quebec.

 

But a Trudeau as leader gives the Liberal Party a fighting chance in Ontario and the Maritimes and a solid base in Quebec, all things that might not be true if a Trudeau wasn’t leader.

 

If he continues to surprise his friends and confound his enemies, Trudeau could actually pull off some kind of Rocky triumph. If that happened, I think Justin Trudeau would probably be an unmitigated disaster as prime minister. But that’s so far away from happening, I think we should just enjoy the ride for a while and see where it takes us.

 

The biggest pitfall that Trudeau has to face is the length of time until the next federal election in 2015 and the length of time until the next leader of the Liberal Party is formally chosen in April 2013.

 

That’s a long time in which we can all get mightily bored of Justin Trudeau.

 

The good thing is that I think Trudeau can stand up to the scrutiny and mind-numbing repetition of a long-haul political process, whether it be a leadership race or an actual election as leader.

 

The more we see and hear of Trudeau, the more he steps out from his father’s shadow, the more he takes chances and pushes boundaries, the more I think we’ll like him.

 

He may not be the saviour of the Liberal Party of Canada, but he’s no longer “Teenage Jesus.”

 

And Trudeau as Liberal leader makes the whole political process fun to watch again. It was getting kinda grey and monotonous. I can’t wait for the first time Justin Trudeau calls Stephen Harper a “piece of sh–” in the House of Commons.

Categories: News

Subscribe to the post

5 comments

  1. Peter Bell says:

    Here we go again. Peddling the left and dissing the right. It is stupid spendthrift left wingers promising everything to everybody that has caused the problems in the US and Europe.

    The only thing the reporters and scribes can do is criticize. Is there nobody in the press bright enough to understand what must be done.

    Harper is a proven leader. He has set the country on the right path and is proving to be a true statesman. If Trudeau gets in he will undo all the good that the conservatives have done.

  2. bmary1 says:

    i dont care about want buzz and electricity…….we need leaders with political smarts and brains…spare the hogwash…… “A DRAMA QUEEN” DOESN’T FIT THE BILL!!!!!!!!!

  3. bmary1 says:

    IT IS LAUGHABLE TO READ THAT IF AN ELECTION WAS HELD TOMORROW, TRUDEAU WOULD DEFEAT MR. HARPER…..THAT WOULD TRULY BE A SAD DAY FOR OUR COUNTRY

  4. George says:

    What, exactly, has he done in politics to even warrant consideration for the Liberal leadership let alone become PM?? Short answer: absolutely nothing! He has a “name” – that’s it. Of course there are idiots out there who will vote for him because “he’s cute” (???) – same as they did with his old man (I had one employee who offered that opinion and when I asked her what other qualifications HE had her reply was “he doesn’t need any!” These are the kinds of bozos who have the right to vote. Just remember one salient fact if and when he does represent the Liberal party at the next election: he IS a Liberal – and that means higher taxes, good money pissed down the drain after bad on boondoggle projects and, most assuredly at some point in their term should they win, one hand in your pocket. It’s in their blood.

  5. BenjaminJGrimm says:

    Justin Trudeau on Feb 12 2012 Radio Canada Interview

    “I always say that if, at a given time, I believed that Canada was really the Canada of Stephen Harper, and that we were going against abortion, that we were going against gay marriage, that we were moving backwards in 10,000 different ways, maybe I would think of wanting to make Quebec a country,” when the interviewer asked for clarification he replied “Oh yes, absolutely. If I no longer recognized Canada, I know my own values very well.”

    And let’s not forget his insistence that Honour killings are not barbaric and that the Conservatives should apologize for using the term.

    He makes Romney look like a genius, can’t wait til Pauline Marois gives him the PQ stamp of approval.

Leave a comment

 characters available