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[LINK] Two links on Justin Trudeau as (likely) disappointing saviour of the Liberal Party

Justin Trudeau, the Montréal-area MP who is an apparent front-runner for the leadership of the battered Liberal Party of Canada mainly because–it seems–he’s the son of late great Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau, has been the subject of much media attention mainly because–I suspect–the dominance of inherited fame in making him a viable candidate for the leadership of a political party is something recognized as ridiculous by many people.

  • Lysiane Gagnon’s acid column in The Globe and Mail from this Monday is good.
  • [I]sn’t it strange that a man who will turn 41 in December is considered too young to lead a party? Pierre Elliott Trudeau was only nine years older when he won the Liberal crown in 1968. What this indicates is that, indeed, Justin Trudeau exudes juvenile charm, lightness and immaturity, as if he were not actually approaching middle age, well past the age of Peter Pan.

    His aura is made of the most superficial assets: a famous father and handsome looks. In a carefully scripted marketing stunt designed to show he had the steely courage of his father, he fought in a boxing match against Senator Patrick Brazeau and won. The gullible parliamentary press, too happy to escape the lugubrious corridors and the boring debates of the House of Commons, transformed this silly match into a big event.

    Yet Mr. Trudeau remains a lightweight. A former high-school teacher with unimpressive professional baggage, he lacks gravitas and substance. He has never offered the public debate anything but clichés inspired by the lamest political correctness.

    As Mr. Den Tandt asks, “What has he ever said or written that’s substantial, original or politically powerful?” Well, there is at least one remark of his that was original – when he childishly mused that he’d rather join the Quebec sovereigntists than live in a Harper-dominated Canada.

    In a confrontation with Bob Rae, the older and wiser politician would have crushed him at every step of a leadership race. (Not coincidentally, Mr. Trudeau considered running only after Mr. Rae had opted out.) In a televised match, Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair would eat him alive.

  • Elsewhere, Pat Murphy’s “Trudeaumania in the 21st century” takes a look at how Justin Trudeau would do. (Hint: The Liberal Party is much weaker in western Canada and Québec now than in the 1960s when Pierree Trudeau ran.)
  • From a policy impact perspective, [Pierre Trudeau] was certainly one of Canada’s most consequential prime ministers. He was also successful politically, winning four of the five federal elections in which he led the Liberals. And his 1968 win was a genuinely broad-based triumph.

    But after that, his political success had a relatively narrow base.

    In the four following elections, he never won Western Canada. In fact, the Liberals were reduced to two seats there by the time he was done.

    Neither was he particularly successful in Atlantic Canada. He only won it once – in 1980.

    As for Ontario, his track record was pretty much a split decision. He won it in 1968, 1974 and 1980, but lost it in 1972 and 1979.

    All of which brings us to Quebec, the power base on which Trudeau’s political dominance was built. He carried it overwhelmingly in all five elections, often winning 50 per cent or more of his national seat total there.

    To cut to the chase, I’ll put it this way. Absent Quebec, Pierre Trudeau would have been a one-term prime minister, ignominiously turfed out in 1972 and never returned to power.

    You may very well ask what this has to do with Justin’s prospects. After all, couldn’t he replicate his father’s formula and ride to the prime minister’s office by sweeping Quebec? Maybe, but he’d have a much steeper hill to climb.

    Pierre Trudeau had it relatively easy in Quebec. He was French-Canadian, the Liberals were Quebec’s traditional favourites, and his serious opponents were a pair of hapless out-of-province Anglos – Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark.

    Things are different now. It’s been 30 years since the Liberals dominated Quebec federally and the NDP has emerged as the current inheritor of what was once the Liberal base. To claw back his father’s overwhelming position, Justin would have to successfully go head-to-head with the feisty Thomas Mulcair, a man with deep roots in Quebec.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    June 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm