Second generation of Trudeaumania

This past week, Justin Trudeau announced he had changed his mind and would throw in his hat for the Liberal leadership race.

Hundreds of Liberal supporters leapt to their feet and cried, “Arise! For our time has come to vanquish our foes from of old! The reincarnated man lives in on in the image of his son!”

I clearly exaggerate, but the rhetoric often bandied about by Liberal supporters of the young Trudeau is often sweeter and more dangerous than high-fructose corn syrup, and I say this as a Liberal member myself.

Don’t get me wrong; Trudeau is an exemplary Canadian. His work with Katimavik, a registered charity that educates Canadian youth through volunteer work, is indicative of that. He chaired the program from 2002 to 2006. Then add his work with relief efforts in Haiti in 2010, his previous work with Canada Reads, and you’ve got an exemplary citizen.

But does that make a great leader? Potentially, a great prime minister?

The biggest issue with Trudeau’s candidacy is his lack of a track record within the political realm.

“He studied this and that at university,” said writer Dan Gardner in a column for the Ottawa Citizen. “He spent a little time as a high-school teacher. He sat on the boards of various good causes, as those born with wealth and connections often do. He tried his hand at a various opportunities — acting in a miniseries, host of the Giller Prize — which were offered to him because he’s famous and nice to look at.”

And that’s the problem. Simply being famous and “nice to look at” does not equate to great leadership. This isn’t American Idol or a Twitter popularity contest. This is our country.

People seem to be overcome with a second-generation of Trudeaumania when speaking about Trudeau. However, the parallels between generations are limited the familial bond, and don’t actually mean anything more than that.

Former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau had experience prior to throwing his hat in the ring. He earned a law degree at the Université de Montréal, studied at both Harvard and the London School of Economics, and had a brief session at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris.

He also worked in the Privy Council Office of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and, later on, became minister of justice. All of these are indicative of a great education, intellectual policy-making, and leadership potential.

When Trudeau spoke, people cared because he did it with a vigor and charisma that could only have stemmed from knowledge, experience and passion. When his son speaks, the passion is present, but the message is meaningless, due to the overuse of cliches and lack of real experience.

The truth is that people want something to believe in. The economy is in dire straits; people are generally unhappy with Ottawa’s administration, and they want to see some radical change. At the end of the day, you need someone who can make tough decisions, not someone who will try to appease you with empty promises.

The truth is that the answer doesn’t lie in making Trudeau a leader. It comes with fundamentally changing the very essence of the Liberal party, to rediscover the policies that worked for them, the new policies that the future needs, and engaging voters of every age by finding the commonality that makes us proud to be Canadians.

Could Trudeau be the answer in a few years, if he took on more responsibilities than being the party’s critic for Post Secondary Education, Youth and Amateur Sport? Definitely. But the first priority for him should be to become a contender.


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