Justin Trudeau featured in New York Times raising possibility of Camelot in Canada
by Michael J Morris
When the New York Times carries a story from Canada, generally speaking, it has to be something really big, otherwise the most influential newspaper in the United States ignores it completely.
For a Canadian politician to make the pages of the Times, especially one who is not a member of the government, or maybe in exceptional circumstances, a leading opposition member, is almost unheard of -- in fact maybe never.
That is until the arrival of Justin Trudeau, now the leader of the federal Liberals, reduced to third party status in the House of Commons, won the leadership of his party, and the Times took note with an opinion piece by Bruce McCall, a Canadian writer and illustrator now living in New York City.
Entitled "Camelot in Canada?" an obvious reference to the Kennedy dynasty, McCall tells his primarily American readers a bit about Pierre Trudeau, Justin's father, who was prime minister for 15 years and yes, he did get coverage in the Times.
McCall suggests that, "A dynasty needs first of all to be founded by one larger-than-life superhero or super villain, hungry for the power of command. That talent gets transmitted to the next generation and the next, though sometimes the genes get watered down and all that’s passed down is the title ... Pierre Trudeau filled that superhero role; he sometimes even wore a cape. In his 15 years of prime ministership — from 1968 to 1979, and again from 1980 to 1984 — he displayed such un-Canadian panache that he triggered a public enthusiasm known as Trudeaumania."
Enter Justin. McCall suggests that while Canadians have favoured substance over style in their prime ministers for the most part, and that it would take a "a total cultural turnaround for Canadians to anoint the young Trudeau as their leader...", his first name does have "sex appeal". Maybe Canadians are saying. "At last, a politician with a movie star/pop idol/ski bum name".
McCall adds that "He is square-jawed, with great hair, has a decorous young wife, and is as smooth and personable as a TV game show host."
However, McCall suggests, "that doesn’t mean that the political establishment isn’t a tiny bit worried. Canadian political life post-Pierre Trudeau has lacked a certain, well, pizazz. Even a sympathetic observer can detect disappointment in a run of prime ministerial personalities about as dynamic as a convention of C.P.A.’s, (Certified Public Accountant) culminating today in Stephen Harper, the leader of the Conservative Party."
Given the nastiness of the attack ads on Justin Trudeau since he became Liberal party leader, I would suggest that the Tory political establishment is more than a tiny bit worried about a return to the Trudeaumania that swept his father into power starting in 1968 and ending in 1984. There was a brief time out when Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark formed a minority government after the 1979 election.
Despite the attacks Andy Radia of Yahoo News reported on April 25 that "Justin Trudeau is Canada's most popular leader, according to a new poll. The report — conducted by Harris/Decima for the Canadian Press — suggests that 57 per of Canadians have a "favourable view" of the new Liberal leader compared to favourability ratings of 42 per cent and 40 per cent for NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, respectively. The survey also asked Canadians who they thought would make the best prime minister. Again, Trudeau finished on top with 33 per cent of the votes compared to Harper and Mulcair at 31 per cent and 18 per cent respectively."
This poll is consistent with other recent ones. Of course, the next federal election does not need to be held until 2015, and in politics, two weeks can be a lifetime, but I have a hunch the Tories will not enjoy the same success with their attack ads as they did in branding Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.
McCall notes: "And so, the staid Ottawa political establishment is suddenly faced with the nightmare of a what-the-heck-let’s-try-a-fresh-face electoral turnaround. Canada, Land of Surprises."
Stay tuned. Camelot Canada may be in the making.
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Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.