The Justin Trudeau bandwagon is getting pretty crowded, and it hasn’t even left the bandwagon station yet.
OK, I have no idea if bandwagons had stations, or really what a bandwagon is, or why anyone would get on it. So put another way, there appears to be some momentum building (at least in the media) for Justin Trudeau to enter the Liberal leadership race. And if he enters, he will win.
Trudeau is, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few years (another very odd expression), the oldest son of Pierre Trudeau, the most electrifying and polarizing figure in Canadian politics in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (he was elected in 1968, was defeated in 1979, came back in 1980 and quit in 1984.) When Trudeau was running the Liberals, the party was not unlike the cool Mercedes sports car Trudeau was seen driving after he quit politics for the first time in 1979. Today, the Liberal party is still like that cool Mercedes sports car — but who the hell drives a Mercedes sports car? Can you even buy parts?
The Liberal party, once so dominant in this country that non-Liberal governments were aberrations, is now a shambles. The party has a feeble 35 seats in the House of Commons (worst numbers in its history), is currently leaderless after discarding two disastrous “leaders” in six years, and trails in the polls to even the New Democrats.
Now attention turns to Justin Trudeau. With its current roster of sitting MPs a collection of benchwarmers with little or no national profile, Trudeau is pretty much the only Liberal known outside of the cloistered circles of Liberal party believers. He’s been on the cover of Macleans magazine and has been the subject of multiple pro and con columns in the newspapers. To summarize both sides:
PRO: Young, handsome, charismatic, scion of the most famous name in Canadian political history, Quebecer.
CONS: Too young, too handsome, scion of the most despised name in Canadian political history, Quebecer.
The anti-Trudeau side believes that all he really has going for him is his looks and his name. He has accomplished nothing of any real substance other than being elected as a Liberal in a strongly separatist riding, and there are still plenty of Canadians who can’t say Trudeau without spitting, like the people of Dog River do when mentioning Woolerton.
I admit to being on the anti-Trudeau side for some time, buying into all the too young, too shallow, too Trudeau arguments. But the more I think about it, the more I think all of those negatives don’t really matter.
Sure, many Canadians still hate the Trudeau name. But many millions more — especially the young voters who would be Trudeau’s most ardent followers, and millions of new Canadians — know Trudeau only as a historical figure. Pierre Trudeau left politics in 1984, the same year my oldest son was born. Millions of voters don’t remember Trudeau any more than they know Sir Wilfred Laurier, which is to say, not at all.
As to the complaint that he hasn’t accomplished much in his life, ask yourself this: what did Stephen Harper ever do outside of politics? The answer is nothing.
Some say that he doesn’t have the gravitas, the brainpower to be the leader of a party. To that complaint, I have a two-word answer: George Bush. If the most powerful country in the world can elect a demonstrable dumb ass — twice! — than there’s no reason why a smart young man like Trudeau cannot run the third place party of a fairly inconsequential country.
And finally, to be blunt, Trudeau is all they’ve got. The Liberals are moribund, teetering on the brink of irrelevancy. With Jack Layton gone, replaced by whoever it is who replaced him (I want to say Muldoon), millions of soft New Democrat voters would return to the natural governing party.
Maybe Trudeau is lacking in substance, maybe he is more flash than form — but it hardly matters. Justin Trudeau is the Liberals best hope. Hell, he’s their only hope.