Print Edition: July 4, 2012
Has any Canadian politician been more loved and hated than Pierre Trudeau?
Whether you adored him or loathed him, it goes without saying that Trudeau was one of our strongest leaders. He is lauded for his commitment to social justice and the patriation of the Canadian Constitution, and infamous for East-West hostility, the National Energy Program, pissing off Quebec and the phrase “fuddle duddle.”
It goes without saying that he was a forceful personality, whether or not you agree with John Lennon that he was a “beautiful person.” With 15 years under his belt, he was one of our longest serving prime ministers and undoubtedly one of the most famous.
I can’t imagine being his son.
With Bob Rae out of the running, the pressure has been cranked up for poor Justin Trudeau to step up and run for federal Liberal party leader. Yet despite expectations, young Trudeau doesn’t seem to have any desire to follow in his father’s footsteps, and no wonder with such shoes to fill.
Already, he is being hailed as the potential messiah for the Liberal party; quite understandably, he fears the crucifixion that undoubtedly awaits him if he can’t pull the Liberals out of their slump. Admirably, he says that he wants to spend time with his young children, and he would know better than anybody what claims being party leader, never mind Prime Minister, makes on your time. Still, Justin Trudeau is the party’s only hope, and the question remains if he will step up to the plate.
Some say it doesn’t matter whether he steps up or not; while polls indicate that he would increase the Liberal’s popularity, it looks as though the NDP will win the next election as a minority either way. Still, it’s crucial that Trudeau makes a go of it if the Liberal party has any hope of rebuilding their shattered reputation and eventually making it back into power.
As the last few elections made clear, people are sick of the Liberals. Scandals, corruption, pandering, arrogance—they’ve just been in power too long. As a result, Canada became polarized, and the NDP and Tories experienced a drastic shift in fortunes. Those Red, rich, old white men got a well-deserved spanking from the populace.
If that wasn’t a signal that it was time for the Liberals to change, I don’t know what was. Now they desperately need a new image. The days for being completely Ontario-Quebec oriented are gone. The over-the-top pro-French stance is unnecessary. And it’s time to find a leader that actually appeals to the younger generation because, let’s face it, the baby boomers aren’t living forever.
Justin Trudeau has everything they need. He’s young, he’s handsome and he’s a well-known Canadian celebrity thanks to his famous father. Better than that, he’s everything Canada needs. He’s honest and the quintessential clean-shaven “good guy” – such a good guy that he doesn’t even want to be PM. As Plato said, it is only those who don’t want power who should be allowed to govern.
Furthermore, you couldn’t find somebody who prioritizes the youth more: he’s a former high school teacher with a Bachelor of Education, he chaired the Katimavik youth volunteer program and is the opposition critic for youth, post-secondary education and amateur sport. Considered a political “baby” himself, this 40-year-old gets that young people are indeed the future of Canada. Plus, he studied at UBC and worked in Vancouver – likely, this Trudeau isn’t going to finger the West. Nor is he going to pander to Quebec or, one hopes, piss them off.
The fact of the matter is, we need a strong centre party. With the world economy in the state it’s in, there are still a significantly large number of people who will plug their nose and vote Conservative before they will ever vote NDP. I have no doubt that the NDP will have their day in power, but I don’t see a majority in their near future until Canadians feel more secure. Yet there are likewise those on the left who would rather slash their own wrists than ever vote Conservative out of fear of their negative social policies.
Polls are showing that most Canadians are unhappy with the Conservative government right now – hence the predicted NDP minority government. Yet Canadians are also tired of minority governments, especially during such an economic crisis. It’s obvious that we need a compromise, and that compromise means a centre party – fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. This means we need a centre party that we can put our trust in, that we can relate to, that we can stand behind.
Can Justin Trudeau give us that party? Yes. Can he win the Liberals the election? That remains to be seen – but at least he’d give us a Liberal party we could be unashamed to vote for.