The name we won’t easily forget

Will Trudeau fils follow in Trudeau pére's footsteps?

Carolyn Grant

And lo, the clouds parted and a ray of light fell from the heavens onto the beleaguered Liberal Party of Canada. (Not to be confused with the beleaguered BC Liberals, who are beleaguered in a different way.)

Yes, Justin Trudeau is poised to announce his candidacy for leadership of the Liberal party. Cue heavenly chorus.

The Liberal Party of Canada, the Grits, perennial rulers, bastion of such famed names as Chretien, Martin and Pearson, have fallen so far from grace in recent years that they cannot even occupy the seats of the Official Opposition Party. They’ve gone through three leaders in the past decade, three hapless souls who assumed the reins full of hope and optimism (remember Dion and his dog named Kyoto?), only to have it smashed by the iron fist of the Harper Conservatives and the indifference of the Canadian voter.

But now there is hope, now there is… Trudeau. Again.

Too young and inexperienced, you say? No legislative record except as a one-term third party MP? The name Trudeau is reviled in the west, you say?

All true. But, in my considered opinion, all don’t matter.

Consider the nation that hangs on Twitter — ingesting news 140 characters at a time. Trudeau is, quite simply, a rock star. Within the party he is Luke Skywalker and Brad Pitt, rolled into one boxing, moustache-growing, sexy package. He is news. He grabs attention wherever he goes. Like him or hate him, you will notice him. And Tweet about him.

Inexperienced? Yes. But it won’t matter. Look at Barack Obama. He had very little experience in the Senate himself, but he rode the wave of excited voters all the way from unknown to the White House in less than two years. In fact, with four years of political experience behind him, Obama is less likely to ride that wave than he was four years ago. No long legislative record means no history to go back and criticize.

And Trudeau may be young, but he also may have realized that it was now or never. If another talented youngish Liberal, say Marc Garneau or Dominic LeBlanc, were to take the leadership and have some moderate success (and really, you wouldn’t have to do much to achieve more than the Liberals did in the last federal election), that person could be leader for at least 10 years. Maybe more. Maybe Trudeau sees this as his only opportunity.

Alberta will never forget Justin’s father Pierre Trudeau and the hated National Energy Policy. Also true. But no matter who the leader is, Alberta isn’t going to send too many Liberal MPs to Ottawa. So that is really a non-factor.

Politicians need name recognition – that’s half the battle. Trudeau’s got that. Politicians have to have an ability to ignite the base and bring out volunteers. Trudeau’s got that. Politicians have to be able to make news and by God, Trudeau’s got that.

He will also give Thomas Mulcair and the NDP a strong fight in Quebec, which like it or not, is often the key federally. I don’t see the Conservatives picking up those Quebec seats if Trudeau runs.

And that my friends, will have Mr. Harper gnashing his teeth. He cannot be happy about this news. He cannot be happy about another Trudeau potentially assuming control of the Liberals, or even assuming control of the headlines.

Now, Trudeau may not even win the leadership. His party has certainly made some, shall we say odd, choices in the past. But I think he’s got it in the bag. I think he will be leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Will he be the next Prime Minister? Only time will tell. But I’ll tell you this: Canadian politics are about to get a lot more interesting.

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