I wonder. Is it finally time to take Justin Trudeau seriously?
To say I haven’t until now would be an understatement. I just don’t see him as the prime minister. I don’t see the experience, I don’t see the intellectual depth, and I don’t see a person who truly understands how the world works – let alone how the economy of the country works.
What I see is an extremely good looking man who had a famous political father. And, unfortunately for me, and, perhaps, some other Canadians, I still can’t get my head around how all this started.
It was in Montreal in October 2000, when a much younger Justin Trudeau eulogized his father at Notre Dame Cathedral. Other than maybe his first name and the fact he was Pierre Trudeau’s son, no one in the country knew who he was. But then there was that eulogy, which was, in one word, phenomenal.
It was so good, people referenced it afterward as one of the best speeches in Canadian oratorical history. The CBC had it readily available on it’s website for many years, university professors used it as a teaching tool when demonstrating to young people the pinnacle of being able to communicate.
I have made mention before how a very cynical colleague at the CBC remarked to me that day that Justin Trudeau had just launched his leadership campaign. I told him he was too cynical. It turns out he was just smarter than me.
According to Maclean’s magazine, Trudeau planned every word and gesture of that speech with his closest confidant, who now, by no accident, is his chief of staff. They had a lot to work with.
Trudeau once taught drama at a private school in British Columbia. His role that day would have done central casting proud. He could not have been more on top of his theatrical game.
He has to have come a long way since that eulogy. After all, he is knocking on the door to be the next prime minister. He has led in the polls for 18 consecutive months. The election is a year from now, if not sooner. What is it I don’t get?
I have always admired Brian Mulroney as a politician who could, in another life, have been a first-rate political analyst and commentator. He sees things in a prescient way, and his analytical judgment is so often stunningly accurate.
When Trudeau first became leader of the Liberal Party, Mulroney told an interviewer no one should underestimate him. He saw all the potential for Trudeau to win. Now, with the next election that much closer, Mulroney went even further in an interview last month, when he said Trudeau could do well in the next election just on the issue that he is not Stephen Harper.
No, he is not Harper, and he doesn’t wear the scars of being prime minister for almost 10 years. The promotion of “change” is always to the advantage of the challenger. As Mulroney so rightfully pointed out, he and the Progressive Conservatives were the change to the Liberals in 1984, just as Jean Chrétien and the Liberals were a change from the Tories in 1993.
So, does Justin Trudeau just have to show up?
I have heard it said many times by Conservative supporters that Trudeau may not pass the true test of the tape in an election campaign, and particularly in the debates. They point out he is known to have made some incredible gaffes since assuming the leadership and, chances are, under pressure, he could make too many election campaign mistakes to overcome. Somehow, I think those are desperate people clinging to a last hope.
I have covered election campaigns in which “change” meant everything. The clamouring for change, once it is engaged, is very hard to stop.
As for Trudeau, he may be just the right person at the right moment in history to win the election in 2015. And, if he does, we can only wish him well. There is always lots of room in politics to surprise.
We’ll see if Justin Trudeau has what it takes to be prime minister.