In the October 6, 2014 issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, I wrote, “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.”
Now he is the prime minister, and it doesn’t matter who thought what when. He deserves all the credit in the world. By winning in such a resounding way, he made history. But, before that is reduced to a cliché, let’s look at what he achieved.
The Liberals won seats in Calgary for the first time since 1968. They won a majority of seats in Quebec for the first time since 1980. Trudeau brought them to victory in every major Canadian city. He took the North and he took everything there was to take in Atlantic Canada.
Trudeau ran a near perfect campaign. He absolutely rose to the occasion. Expectations were so low, he had been written off by so many, and he just battled his way through it.
Over the years, I have seen many leaders and many campaigns, but I’ve never seen anyone pick themselves off the floor and fight the way he fought. He was steely-eyed, prepared and determined from the first day forward. Plain and simple, he was the ‘Wayne Gretzky’ of the election campaign. His opponents were left gasping in his dust.
Is he really that good? Without doubt, he is an excellent campaigner. He always had the potential and he blossomed at just the right moment. There is something uncanny and almost magical about that. But, whether it is sports, politics or any profession, the good ones bring it when it counts the most.
There was a sparkle that enthused the country, and the next question, beyond the hoopla of an election campaign, is what is real and what is smoke and mirrors?
Comparisons have been with U.S. President Barack Obama, who enthused his country in the 2008 campaign, and how – for many – he did not live up to the hopes and expectations. Governing is obviously a lot harder than winning an election campaign.
Canada is not an easy country to govern. There are so many regional concerns and differences. Apart from geography, there are so many pressing issues, it can make one dizzy just thinking about them. Prime Minister Trudeau’s resumé is that of a drama teacher and professional public speaker. How did that prepare him to run the country?
Prepared or not, he has already started as prime minister and nothing has ground to a halt and no ceilings have crashed down. No one yet knows the outcome of this historic change in leadership. No one can.
What we do know is that the prime minister has many promises to keep and he can’t and won’t deliver on them all. We know there will be miscalculations and mistakes and that journalists will soon turn on the Liberals and try to turn every misdeed into Watergate.
We also know that change around the Prime Minister’s Office will be monumental. Trudeau and his confidantes are a new generation of leaders and rainmakers. The old guard has been shown the door.
The torch has been passed to men and women in their early-40s and younger. That is really the exciting part: new players working at the old game of politics.
The last big question is how different and how much better can this new generation make it? Without doubt, it is going to be different. But, at this early stage, it is impossible to know if it will be better. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking about what could be.
We live in challenging times, and our politics reflect the difficulties of solving everyday problems and making life better for Canadians. Unfortunately, over the past quarter-century, we have also fallen into a rut of despair and cynicism about politics and politicians.
If this new generation of political leadership can move us positively forward on that front, it will be a beautiful thing for all Canadians.
For more commentary on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:
From the Editor by Michael Regenstreif – Canada’s strong friendship with Israel will endure under Trudeau
My Israel by Barbara Crook – Trudeau can’t go back to classic Liberal ways when it comes to Israel
Guest column by Rabbi Michael Goldstein – Building ties between Canadian Jewry and the new prime minister