As a journalism student (and I hope soon to be actual journalist) I’ve paid an increasing amount of attention to politics and local news over the years. When I was in high school, when I put my political views on Facebook it was “apathetic” for the longest time, and I knew once I got into my post-secondary institution that it’s not useful to be apathetic when it comes to politics. Close to neutral is better, because than at least you can agree with conservative or liberal policies as you choose.
I know now I’m politically a liberal, and probably have been for some time. Yesterday was a pretty big day for Liberal politics. Albeit over 30 minutes late, Justin Trudeau, the son of the former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, easily won the race to become the next leader of the federal Liberal party. Trudeau needed 15,000 points to win, and he got 24,000. If that’s not a clear signal of the confidence federal Liberals have in Trudeau, I don’t know what is.
My friend Kevin rightly pointed out that the media did do one thing wrong when talking about the leadership race, and that was often referring to Trudeau’s non-surprising win as a “coronation.” The thing is, Trudeau did not run unopposed. Sure, he easily won, but he was against several other candidates. Calling it a coronation makes it seem like he was the only person in the race. From the way he was covered, it certainly seemed that way, however untrue.
Now I have no problem with saying that I am really excited about Mr. Trudeau winning the leadership race. It’s been quite some time since I was ever genuinely excited about a politician. Sadly, the last politician I was a little excited about wasn’t Canadian, and that was Barack Obama.
In Canada, it’s a whole different story when it comes to politicians. As a high school teacher said once, Canadian politics is rarely about voting for the candidate you like the most; it’s almost always about the candidate you hate the least. Depending on how Trudeau proves himself in the House of Commons, I might actually be voting for someone I truly and genuinely like.
Justin Trudeau first really came into attention a while back, when he called someone, during a House session, a “piece of shit.” It took guts to get angry like that, and he did apologize, but he had a point. I don’t remember how long ago it was, but Trudeau had a real point to what he said.
Since then, he’s proven himself to be a genuinely personable and intelligent guy. I remember talking with my friend Diana last August about politics, and we both agreed that we thought Trudeau would be a great new leader for the Liberal Party. This was before he officially announced his campaign, and it now seems almost prophetic that we had the conversation we had.
Of course, one thing that critics are pointing out is Trudeau’s “thin resumé.” But as Rick Salutin points out, lots of former PMs have gone in with thick resumés and accomplished surprisingly little. It’s nice to have a candidate who is articulate and can focus on the future.
All of this is conditional, naturally. Trudeau could wither under the intensified limelight or he might not. He could be a very dangerous opponent of Stephen Harper and he might just captivate a higher percentage of the population to vote. Or he might not.
But I think Trudeau has the capacity to get people excited. As I mentioned earlier, it’s rare that Canadians get to see politicians they genuinely like, and Trudeau might just be that guy.