03.29.2014 09:20 PM

In Sunday’s Sun: he taunts us

He haunts us still.

Remember that? That line – “he haunts us still” – is the very first line on the very first page of a terrific book about Pierre Trudeau. The book won all kinds of awards and accolades, but it is that first sentence which has come to sum up Pierre Trudeau rather well.

Whether you loved him or you hated him – and there were plenty of Canadians on either side of the divide – on one thing we all could agree: Pierre Trudeau looms like a giant, still, above the Canadian political landscape. Nobody is neutral on the subject of the former Liberal prime minister. Everyone has a view.

So, too, is the case with his eldest son, who is now a Liberal Party leader like his dad. And, if the polls mean anything anymore – a big if – the man most likely to be our next prime minister.

That famous line about “haunting us” doesn’t quite apply to the son, however. He doesn’t haunt us, not yet. Instead, Justin Trudeau mainly taunts us.

Trudeau Junior defies the consensus of the pundits and the politicos. He does the unexpected. He remains more popular, durably popular, than any politician in recent memory.
I’m a Liberal type, and a student of politics, but the more I see of Justin Trudeau, the less I think I know. He is even less conventional than his unconventional father.

In the year since he became Liberal leader at a lackluster, poorly attended affair in an Ottawa convention hall, Trudeau has made enough mistakes to kill off any other politician’s career.

He made a joke about what is happening in the Ukraine. He has said he admires a “dictatorship” for being one. He has said he wants to understand the feelings of terrorists.

Along with the mistakes, there have been plenty of contradictions, too.
He has embraced pipelines and pot, almost simultaneously. He has promised open nominations, and then giddily manipulated them.

He has sounded like a Quebec nationalist in unguarded moments, and then gone on to bravely defend federalism. He has sounded blasé about a Liberal senator who was under police investigation, and then he summarily expelled 32 Liberal senators who were not.

And with all those mistakes – with all those contradictory moves – this has been the impact on his popularity:
Zero. Zippo. Zilch.

Justin Trudeau – for all his faults, for all his inexperience and his youthfulness – is overwhelmingly the guy Canadians want as prime minister. Still.

They know he isn’t perfect. They know he probably makes far more rookie mistakes than his opponents. But they don’t care. Voters want Justin. Not Stephen, and not Tom.

He’s arrogant, sure, but all the great leaders usually are. He’s cocky, certainly, but that didn’t hurt him when he faced off in a boxing ring with a Conservative senator with a black belt, did it? He’s a bit too melodramatic – but having a flair for the dramatic never hurt anyone’s political career (just ask Ronald Reagan, the actor).

Personally, I can say that Justin Trudeau occasionally ticks me off. He takes unnecessary risks. He doesn’t listen to advice too often. He frequently seems more arrogant than any previous Liberal leader, and that’s no easy thing to do.

But the fact remains Justin Trudeau is the most popular leader Canada has seen in a long, long time. And, barring a disaster between now and 2015, the experts say he is going to be our next prime minister.

He doesn’t “haunt us,” not yet. But if there has ever been a politician who defies the predictions of the political scientists and the pundits – if there has ever been a leader who “taunts us” – Justin Trudeau is it.

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65 Comments

  1. smelter rat says:

    Bingo. You nailed it. I look forward to many many years of Liberal rule, and the total annihilation of the Reformacons. Especially that.

    • Lance says:

      At any cost, no doubt, come what Trudeau may, especially THAT.

    • Brammer says:

      Trudeau the elder haunts Harper still. Case in point, Nadon.

      Harper has trampled all over Parliamentary convention, but even he has to respect the Constitution.

      • Hmm, If Harper actually respected the Constitution, then perhaps the Conservatives would not be deliberately passing legislation that is un-constitutional. Nope, I do not think that the Conservatives respect the Constitution.

  2. David I. says:

    Wasn’t that the last line of that book?

  3. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    Our EDA(or riding assn for us Luddites) actually will have a bona fide nomination race for the first time in living memory……The last Federal election, there were no takers, so one of the executive bravely took one for the team…..and was slaughtered at the polls for his efforts….
    It remains to be seen if the successful candidate wins it outright, or is simply the favoured son or daughter of Justin….but the fact of the matter is……people are talking about the Liberal Party again in this riding…..and one person, and one person only, is responsible for that…..Justin Trudeau…..

  4. Arnold Murphy says:

    The things that my dad found most admirable about Pierre was that he was rich, didn’t hide it didn’t apologize for it, flaunted it sometimes but didn’t seem to particularly care for the segment of the population that had money. The way my dad repeated a news item, when Pierre had constructed an Olympic pool on his property and the news people were chastising him about the extravagance. The reply as my dad put it was, “”that I have money, I can afford a pool and I want a pool, if you cannot afford one I suggest you don’t build one”” He was unapologetic, smooth in his delivery and when it mattered he cared. When people were in trouble he acted, with compassion, when Canada was to be drawn into war he did not appease the U.S. rather he maintained distance and with remarkable character.
    He was down to Earth at times, he canoed dad loved to canoe and the wilderness, they both shared that love of the outdoors and vast spaces. And I can say of Canada, dad often quoted Pierre’s Just watch me moment and that he served in the military at that time was also a point of pride. I can say dad even quoted Trudeau at the first Conservative fund raiser I invited him to, to my chagrin and later delight. When asked to deliver the prayer at the dinner, my father made a quick remark about having something to vote for and not against. He left me much to look back upon, he embedded in me Liberal ideals from a young age across a chessboard while listening to the news on the radio and showing me the difference between a knight and a king.
    We can see in the son, the father, I only hope the same can be said for me some day. I truly believe the bond between Justin and his father, his whole family for that matter is built out of love that maybe was inspired by the times. It shows in the unconventional methods he uses, being candid not calculated and not a phoney. In contrast with the other leaders, he is the most unlikely to actually be there. And I think Warren can attest I did not at first accept the arrogance of Justin’s ambition, seeing it only as ambition. Since, I have reflected upon seeing him perform and I see within him a yearning that is not motivated by power nor by ambition it is that which I too and from what Warren has said of his father know well.
    That thing that we see in the tale of Gilgamesh and Enkidu a great pang wrought by the death of Enkidu. In the story “Gilgamesh was beside himself with grief and despair-certainly for his friend and companion, but more so he grieved for himself. He knew that someday he, too, would die as Enkidu did, and he began his quest for immortality.” I see that quest for immortality, that almost certain knowledge having lost a brother and a father, his mother so fragile at times and strong at others beyond measure. I see in him a responsibility to his own children, to care to be there and to know them as he knew his father. In that I know he is a leader that I choose to follow.
    Whether there are mistakes made by this man, who has earned as his father the respect of some and disdain of others is important. But more important is that he acknowledges his mistakes, corrects them for see’s others as a consequence of this and improves. The man I saw enter parliament, was awkward maybe too arrogant, maybe too entitled. But he now stands as his own man, yes his fathers son, but a different man. Who will continue to I hope impress us to defy his assailants and motivate Canadians as a Trudeau and as his fathers son. There is a lot to be said about the apple not falling far from the tree. There is a lot to be said for a man who cannot be bought, nor will tolerate power being sold to the highest bidder. A man who takes pride in where he has come from, with a certain grief that reinforces the lessons of a missing mentor and father. He compels us because he is compelling, because we all want some part of immortality for whatever brief moment it lasts.

    • Curt says:

      You must be from B.C. Bud

    • Robin says:

      It was widely known that Pierre Trudeau liked to swim daily and would use the pool at the Chateau Laurier when he was an MP and Minister of Justice (as did Honourable George Hees when he was a Minister in the Diefenbaker government) however once Trudeau became Prime Minister it wasn’t as easy for him to swim at the Chateau Laurier so a group of private and anonymous donors paid for an indoor swimming pool to be added to 24 Sussex and it’s not an Olympic size pool (that would be 50 meters), it is a 25 meter pool which is a good size but not Olympic. Trudeau wouldn’t have said what you attribute to him because he didn’t pay for the pool it was a donation to Canada’s Official Residence for the Prime Minister which was inspired by a PM who swam daily, a role model for physical fitness (remember Participaction, a federal program to promote fitness – Trudeau walked the talk). The pool remains a part of the official residence for Prime Minister’s to enjoy. I wonder if Harper swims daily?

  5. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Trying to imagine him in Harper’s place during G8…or is that G7…meetings, particularly regarding this face with Putin over the Ukraine.

    All I can come up with is 6 other leaders thinking, “…HUH???”

    Or clinching a trade deal with the EU, or S. Korea.

    One thing both P.E.T. and Harper have in common is that they both pack damn sharp intellect. Junior doesn’t come even remotely close…and it certainly shows.

    He ain’t ready for prime time, and I don’t think he ever will be.

    IMHO, and all partisanship aside.

  6. Al in Cranbrook says:

    Sorry, that should read, “…face off with Putin”

  7. bw says:

    Are leaders from both sides chosen by Power Corp?

  8. MississaugaPeter says:

    When the other two alternatives are angry old men, what do you expect? When the main alternative is a tired, pathetic, Conservative party whose leader has passed his “Best Before” date, what do you expect?

    And he is pretty good to look at.

    But before you crown The Dauphin, WK, remember elections matter a lot …

    “Recent polls have given PCP stalwarts new hope. A Gallup poll released Aug. 16 shows Campbell’s approval rating at 51 percent – the highest level for a prime minister in 30 years. Her main rival, Liberal Party (LP) leader Jean Chretien, received a 37 percent approval rating. And New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Audrey McLaughlin received 5 percent.”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/1993/0825/25032.html/(page)/2

    Before we have PET2, remember bright lights expose flaws, and an election will reveal if the The Dauphin’s lustre is real or not.

    And consider in the past 2 years in Canadian politics, we have seen many supposed, can’t lose politicians, get creamed during an election.

  9. Philippe says:

    When Canadians vote for a politician, they want someone they feel could be in their living room, having a beer with them. Trudeau putting his foot in his mouth just appears more “normal” and human… people relate to him as a regular guy who isn’t perfect but has the right intentions. Harper, on the contrary, is a Cyborg. Competent, perhaps, but not engaging.

    In my opinion, that’s what it comes down to. Trudeau is just more likeable.

    • Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Oh Phillipe – the Prime Minister is NEVER someone I want sipping beer in my living room. I have friends that I can do that with.

      I want a Prime Minister I can trust to take care of things like the economy, brainstorming with leaders from other countries. You know….all those things I don`t have time for.

      The last thing I want is someone putting his/her foot in his/her mouth with weird comments while “taking care of business” and throwing things out there off the top of his/her head. Yikes!

      • debs says:

        I agree Elisabeth, I dont need to picture the future PM as someone I can have a beer with but I certainly hope we can get a better one then we currently have,.
        you know … better than a lying, cheating, fearmongering sociopathic meglamaniacal monster who thinks rules are for peons and laws are made to get around.

  10. Tim says:

    Justin Trudeau is contradictory, maddenning, arrogant and hard to figure out. Also smarter than the rest of us.

    Like saying he wishes to understand the feelings of terrorists. That means figuring out wtf is going on and stopping these young Muslim men in their tracks before they desire to cause harm, and to me that’s smart. Practising sociology is how Stephen Harper contemptuously put it. Which one is right? I’m with Trudeau. But I think we can safely say we lack a national consensus on this particular issue.

    Despite that, it seems to me our current Prime Minister shares many of the above listed character traits with Trudeau the Younger.

    This is going to be one shit kicker of an election.

  11. Coelocanth_Jones says:

    On election night 2015, I anticipate to be overjoyed about Harper’s turfing and dismayed at JT’s promotion. I associate with many who feel the same, but have no clue how many share this view nationwide

  12. doris says:

    So how much Harperlaw will he repeal?

    Because if he doesn’t then what’s the point of changing PMs – although getting rid of an unpopular despot might be a good reason.

    I wait with bated breath to see his policy book and how much repudiation of Harperlaw will be in it. Somehow I guess we will be waiting a long time for anything substantial!

  13. Ryan Spinney says:

    It pretty simple. Most people aren’t paying attention yet and so they park thier vote with Justin for now. Iggy was as popular or more so at times with the popular vote. Paul Martin at one time was over 50% in the polls a high Justin has yet to obtain. The latest Angus Reid has both Mulcair and Harper still within striking distance of Justin. The truthis Justin is doing poorly compared to most of his predessors at a whopping 34%

    When an election comes is when the General Public wakes up and starts paying attention and that is when Justin is in trouble.

    • Kaspar Juul says:

      Ooh General Public might have his tank!

    • Ottlib says:

      What claptrap Ryan. It is almost unheard of for an opposition party to lead the governing party in between elections, let alone for over a year, and it is completely unheard of for the Third Party to accomplish that feat.

      Stephen Harper never led the Paul Martin Liberals, even after all of the Adscam revelations. He never gained a lead until the middle of the 2006 election. Tim Hudak has managed a couple of small leads over the Ontario Liberals, for brief periods, after revelations about gas plants but the Wynne Liberals always regain the lead and significant ones besides.

      Jean Chretien did not achieve a lead in the polls against the Campbell Progressive Conservatives until the writ was dropped in 1993.

      Their are more examples but I believe I make my point. The fact that the Trudeau Liberals have managed to hang onto a significant lead in the polls for this amount of time is extraordinary.

      Polls need to be taken with a truckload of salt but the fact that the estimates from all of the different polling companies in this country have stated that the Trudeau Liberals have been leading in the polls for over a year is not insignificant and it cannot be dismissed so easily as you are dismissing them.

      The truth is the Trudeau Liberals polling at 34% at this stage of the game is an amazing result for them. By all rights they should still be polling in third place. The fact they are not, despite all of the “mistakes” Mr. Trudeau has made, should frighten the heck out of both the Conservatives and the NDP.

  14. Al in Cranbrook says:

    After Broadbent became leader, he and the NDP hit 43% in the midterm polls. He got 20% on election day.

    Joe Clark (I’ll never understand why) often polled well in personal popularity. Got him nowhere on election day.

    Paul Martin, according to midterm polling, was going to lead the Liberals to the largest majority in history. Seven days before the vote Harper was leading in the polls. Then the panicking Liberal MSM pulled out their big guns, and Martin squeaked in with a bare minority.

    Christy Clark was trailing by 20% when she called the BC election. It was the NDP’s to lose. They did, giving Clark an even larger majority.

    And so on, and so forth…

    Here’s a headline featured on Bourque this morning…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/vladimir-putin-wants-to-regain-finland-for-russia-adviser-says-9224273.html

    There was an article a couple days about Russian provocateurs now stirring up s*** in Estonia.

    This guy is pretty scary…not to mention, smart, shrewd and calculating. He is measuring western resolve right now.

    The one leader who has not been shy or intimidated by him is unquestionably PM Harper. And he has affected considerable influence (unlike any Canadian PM I can remember in my lifetime) among the other G7 leaders regarding their collective response.

    Canadians are noticing.

    And making comparisons.

    The emerging crisis with Putin is not likely to go away any time soon.

    This is the big leagues happening out there.

    And J. T. couldn’t even begin to know where to start.

    • doris says:

      Oh Fuck don’t even think it! Harper as Churchill before the second War.

    • Well this Canadian noticed that Harper fucked up LARGE. Recalling Ambassador to Russia was just dumb. As a result, no Ambassador was in Moscow when the troops were lining up at the Ukranian border. Same deal with Iran. Talk about stupid amateurism. The real world is negotiating the end of sanctions on Iran. We cannot even observe with no diplomatic representation. You can just forget about Canadian firms winning any new business in Iran. Harper Foreign relations are comically mis-managed. If such a tragic amateurism can be called comic. Speaks volumes about Conservative supporters loving ‘tough talk’ but clueless about the issues.

  15. Ottlib says:

    It could be Canadians are just following a well established political habit.

    For more than half-a-century Canadians have been going back and forth between the Liberals and Conservatives at the Federal level. When they get tired of the Liberals they vote in a Conservative government and vice versa. This is particularly true amongst the boomers, who just happen to be the one demographic that votes in significant numbers.

    There are many signs that Canadians are getting tired of the current Conservative government and low and behold the Liberals are benefitting, despite being the third party. This of course is driving the NDP bananas but it should be noted that Canadians have never trusted them with government, the 2011 election results notwithstanding.

    The fact Mr. Trudeau is likable, seems approachable and has that surname is probably a bonus.

    Stephen Harper was an unknown quantity when he won his first election. Many of the complaints that we hear about Mr. Trudeau were applied to Mr. Harper and then some at that time but Canadians still followed the old pattern.

    So, the Liberals’ enduring popularity at this point should not be that much of a surprise.

    If Canadians are truly tired of the Conservatives when the 2015 election comes around I would not bet against the Liberals winning that election, despite the current standing in the House and despite the fact someone reasonably competent is leading the NDP.

  16. Olmanhall says:

    Well somebody is paying attention. The volume of emails from ‘Social Conservatives’ I know has increased lately. Most paint ‘Dear Leader’ as an ordinary Canadian and Justin as an elitist anti-Christ. I enjoy mocking their fear and sending them links to Landoverbaptist.org. Given the past performance of polls I don’t think people should put as much stock in them as they used to. A General Election is a good enough poll for me. The closer we get to that glorious event the more I want to hear from the Harperites about what they really think and believe. Lets see how that plays out when people are paying attention to the only poll that matters.

  17. davie says:

    Given the that so much power, both executive and legislative (and they are working on judicial), concentrated in the Prime Minister and the PMO, I guess it is more important that we analyze character rather than analyze issues and possible solutions.

  18. S. Watson says:

    Voting Canadians cannot take Justin seriously. Who wants a PM with a mullet (or full facial hair) and an Edwardian drama queen voice telling us that “the economy will balance itself”?! It’s risible Justin Trudeau!

    • Coelocanth_Jones says:

      I could give less of a shit what’s on a politician’s face or head, it’s what’s in their head, which, in Justin’s case, seems to be rather little, that counts for me. For instance, I’ve never liked Harper, but not for his grey bowl cut

    • Jon Adams says:

      Mocking the Prime Minister’s voice and appearance sure was effective in the 1990s…

  19. dave says:

    As I read this article, the irony struck me, even though they say and do stupid things, they’re still heading the polls. This article could have been written about Rob Ford.

  20. Kim Brown says:

    The lies:
    Justin Trudeau PHS booster stated on Facebook: “Exciting news about Insite Clinic in Vancouver. A victory for medical science, Charter rights, and common sense over narrow, right-wing ideology and politicking.”

    The truth:
    https://twitter.com/vancouverfirst1/status/447056266746032128/photo/1

    • frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

      I agree with the composer of that message……it is still a victory of medical science, charter rights, and common sense over narrow right wing ideology and politicking…..That some heads of the non-profit organization that oversees the program took advantage of their positions and abused their privileges was a disgrace….but it doesn’t lessen the proven benefits that a safe injection site provides……the cost savings of preventing HIV and Hep C transmission alone are well worth continuing the program….
      So stick that in yer ideologue pipe and smoke it…..

  21. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    Note to Justin…..Your passion about the sport of boxing is palpable, and it is admired…..However, while gratuitous F bombs may resonate with a certain segment of the population, they don’t make you sound Prime Ministerial………just sayin’…..

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