Prime Minister Trudeau? Possibly.

Welcome back;
After a lengthy focus on the American Presidential race, it's time to turn one's attention to what's happening in the Great White North®. The federal Liberal leadership race is well underway with something like 8 candidates seeking the golden, silver bronze prize. Let's take a look at the likely scenario of front-runner Justin Trudeau taking the mantle on April 6th, 2013 - the 45th anniversary of his father Pierre becoming Liberal leader - and automatically - the next Prime Minister of Canada.
Much has been made about Justin's lack of policy depth - and much of it is true. However, as can be seen from this latest op-ed, he is staking out a policy framework for himself, and thus the Liberal party in the future.
Five Factors Favouring Trudeau as PM
1. The 'time for a change' syndrome will favour him. A general election won't be held until 2015. By that time the Harper government will have been in power for almost a decade. In politics, friends  come and go, but enemies accumulate. By then, there will inevitably be a stronger 'wind of change' blowing through the landscape. It's hard to imagine a majority government, but a minority Parliament may well emerge.
2. He is from Quebec. A Liberal party must always have a strong base in Quebec if it hopes to emerge victorious. It will mostly be the Liberals vs. the NDP in Quebec - barring a miraculous recovery of the already-dead-but-not-quite-buried Bloc Quebecois (who are in a position to benefit from their kissin' cousins, the Parti Quebecois, who can manipulate masterfully every slight and 'humiliation' that will come its way.) A Trudeau-led Liberal party, however, has to find its footing on a very slippery mountain, and his late father's federalist brand had become almost toxic in many parts of the province in the intervening decades. So the jury is really out on this indicator.
3. A Generational Shift of voters is underway. As we saw in the Presidential election, Justin Trudeau will present a younger profile, a charismatic personality and a sophistication with new media that could attract a younger generation, who have under-voted for decades. So far he has staked out the marijuana de-criminalization plank in his platform, but he needs to develop a platform that can appeal to the 18-35 year old crowd. Even if he does so, he would need to motivate them to vote - which has been notoriously unsuccessful in the past.
4. Communications skills. Although he has enormous energy and a camera-friendly face, his communications skills need work. He has been known to blurt out comments, adopt an angry hectoring tone - in which he refers to himself in the third person - and is not always comfortable in handling tough questions. However, most of those skills are learned, but now that he is in the fishbowl every mistake will be Tweeted and Face-booked, so he will have to watch everything he says.
As with his father, he also has a gift for pulling off stunts - the most memorable being his successful boxing match with Sen. Patrick Brazeau. In that one, he demonstrated the strategic ability of under-performing and over-delivering (always useful in political life) as he beat the much tougher and stronger Brazeau.
5. Avoid getting boxed in. Picking up the boxing metaphor, trying to carve out a middle ground between the NDP's very capable, left-centre Tom Mulcair and the strongly confident, centre-right ground held by Stephen Harper is a narrow channel to navigate.
He has to hope that he can carve a path that will distinguish itself from the other two parties - all while avoiding their punches and hay-makers aimed at the Liberal party's mixed legacy which will still be remembered by many voters.
So, what does the 2015 election look like? It's such a long way away that it's impossible to predict. However, Mr. Trudeau is not to be written off by either the NDP or the Conservatives as he seems to be comfortable in the under-dog position. The key will be the state of the economy and the ability of the Conservative government to communicate its messages effectively, and if the NDP can sustain its current support level. Who knows?
Where were you 49 years ago?
Nov. 22, 1963 Dallas Texas. As those of us old enough to remember know, it was the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated while driving in a motorcade. This video clip gives an excellent sense of what it was like to be watching television...going from the inane daytime show to the truly insane. The man the reporter interviewed within minutes of the assassination turned out to be one of the most famous amateur film-makers in history - the one and only Abraham Zapruder. Conspiracy buffs will always be convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone. I have never been persuaded of that, but our world has never been the same since. Even though JFK was a terribly flawed individual in his personal life, his public legacy has survived these nearly five decades.
By the way, for those who want to see a great film of the first assassinated President, I would highly recommend 'Lincoln'. Spielberg did an excellent job of painting an all-too-human picture of an ordinary man who became a truly heroic President.
To all of our American friends, have a Happy Thanksgiving and travel safely. Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. Good insight Barry on JT - I really appreciate your views. Minor edit, "under perform" shoud be "under promise". Keep up the great work!