Richard Nixon saw it all coming.
At a state dinner in Canada’s capital city Ottawa in 1972, the former president jokingly predicted that then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s four-month-old son Justin would one day lead the Great White North.
As of this week, Nixon was proven correct.
Trudeau’s convincing win on Monday in Canada’s federal election spells a majority Liberal government. The new posse of progressives will be sworn in by early November and is a sharp turn left from the neoconservative foreign policy and corporate- and sales-tax-cutting tack of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Strategic voting and sharp dissatisfaction with Harper from a growing segment of Canada’s population played its part in Trudeau’s victory, as did admittedly solid campaigning and strategic messaging from Trudeau. Still, the pundits agree, it was the overarching desire from to see Harper go that tipped the scales. So much so, in fact, that the erstwhile prime minister even caused a new kind of mental illness known as Harper Derangement Syndrome.
Before talking about Justin Trudeau, it is only apt to give a brief primer on his father, Pierre. Speculation about Justin’s rising political star started when he delivered the eulogy for his father at Pierre’s funeral in 2000. Key moments of his rise during the most recent campaign came when he squarely defended his father’s progressive record and memory in both a personal and national sense.
As he takes charge of America’s northern neighbor, Justin Trudeau will be literally returning to his childhood home at the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Think: White House, but the Canadian version, which is more of a home than a government symbol. Security measures were enhanced after a mentally ill teen tried to kill former Prime Minister Jean Chretien in the 1990s. Luckily, Chretien’s wife locked the bedroom door while the prime minister stood by, ready to club the intruder with an Inuit stone carving, if necessary.
Yes, things are done a bit differently up in here in Canada, but back to Justin.
Justin’s Past Informs His Present
Pierre’s rise to power in 1968 drew an unprecedented level of attention and media hype to Canada’s leader. In his formative years, Pierre was a strict traditionalist raised in a Jesuit school who used to pen ad majorem Dei gloriam, “All for the glory of God” on his school notebooks. He was raised to sympathize with ethnic nationalism, Catholic nationalism, and fascism a la Mussolini, but eventually came to change his views dramatically.
Indeed, as he continued his later education and traveled the world, Trudeau senior came to see things from the far Left of the spectrum. In his leadership as prime minister, he instituted Canada’s version of the Bill of Rights, called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Never afraid to go against the current, he also declared martial law to round up French Quebec separatists after a hostage-taking, dated Barbara Streisand, and had unorthodox ways of exiting buildings. He also tightened up laws on guns, loosened them on abortion, and pushed for Canada to become the kind of progressive paradise it is known as today.
Justin, who is 43, is certainly following in his father’s footsteps, but multiplied by ten, and with a new kind of open-mindedness.
When he’s not enthusiastically advocating for transgender rights, marching pink-shirted in Pride Parades, or telling party members they must be pro-choice, Trudeau has been known to pontificate that terrorists are mainly motivated by the pains of social exclusion. He also believes that women should be allowed to wear a niqab, or full face covering, when they swear an oath to become a new citizen, because women’s rights.
Speaking about his support for a woman’s right to wear the niqab (which must be unveiled privately prior to the swearing in ceremony to a female government official but is allowed to be kept on for the oath itself), Trudeau has spoken out about how it is inherently exclusionary to tell a woman what she can and cannot wear. He slammed Canada’s conservatives for using the language of feminism and women’s rights to dictate to women what is acceptable. Conveniently, Trudeau’s position ignores that many Muslim women wear the niqab precisely because it is the law and male-run governments demand it.
Though many Canadians disagree with Trudeau and believe the niqab should be removed during citizenship ceremonies, they voted for him.
Trudeau’s Policy Stances, Explained
A surprisingly resilient and strong campaigner, Trudeau clearly outperformed both Harper and further-left New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair. He put forward an energized and optimistic disposition on the trail and in debates. He presented a chipper, leftist, catch-all platform that promised a greater refuge for refugees, more funding for Canada’s government-run broadcast giant, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, lots of diversity, legal dope, and less foreign military intervention. He’s already promised to remove Canadian jets from the bombing mission against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
He’s still sitting on the fence about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will likely have both negative and positive impacts on Canada’s economy, and could have significant downsides in terms of global pharmaceutical standards and prices. Trudeau is also hedging his bets on pipelines and climate change. This irks those who are further left on Canada’s political spectrum, including many NDP and Green Party supporters.
He has flip-flopped on a bill that grants increased detainment and surveillance power to Canada’s spy agencies, which has drawn concern from the Left. In this sense, he is more like Hillary Clinton than Obama. Like Clinton has had to shift Left due to the populist drive from the Black Lives Matter movement and Bernie Sanders, Trudeau will experience similar pressure.
In other words, Trudeau is considered a center-left figure in Canada. He’s already seen as a show pony by the Canadian Right, while the Left sees him as not Left enough on certain environmental and economic issues, which will make his leadership a challenge.
As he heads into his inaugural term, he seems like Obama in several key ways. While the majority of the country doesn’t agree with his more fringe social and drug views, they find him a refreshing change, a bright new face of positivity, and a better cheerleader for Canada.
Despite decrying much of what narrow-minded conservatives believe, Trudeau has promised to bring all Canadians together. Sound familiar?
“Conservatives are not our enemies, they’re our neighbors,” he told a large cheering crowd in his victory speech. “They want what’s best for their country, just like we do. They want safe communities and a growing economy.”
Trudeau: Social Justice Warrior
Justin Trudeau is not biracial, nor does he hail from a modest economic background, but he’s cool, has good hair, and a dazzling smile. Left-leaning Canadians are entranced.
He’s got a tattoo depicting one of Canada’s First Nations spiritual symbols and another based on the logo for the youth exchange program, Katimavik, which his father started and Harper slashed. He has a beautiful wife who’s passionate about women’s and Aboriginal issues, a charming family, and is by all accounts, a very personable guy and wonderful father. He’s Canada’s wunderkind. A cisgender, white male, heterosexual, with a traditional nuclear family, who spends his time advocating for those who are anything but a boring cliché like himself.
He has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education. What could be more Social Justice Warrior?
Trudeau also comes from a rather unorthodox background, including stints as a snowboard instructor and acting teacher before his career as a member of parliament. The Conservative Party of Canada, with its rather lackluster and uninspiring leader who is now stepping down as party leader, could learn a thing or two from Trudeau in terms of showmanship.
In 2012, Trudeau donned boxing gloves for charity and beat the living daylights out of Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau. Much like the recent election, Trudeau took hit after hit and was seen as a showpiece. He seemed to be going down for the count until partway in, much to the chagrin of one of his long-time opponents, former Sun News Network journalist and Canada’s icon of the Right, Ezra Levant, who broadcasted the fight expecting the “Shiny Pony” to lose, only to steadily refine his play-by-play.
He takes himself a bit less seriously than some of Canada’s politicians, which a lot of people like. There’s a video where he falls down a set of stairs as a prank, and another time when he did a faux-striptease to raise money for charity. He’s nothing if not irreverent and attention-getting. For example, he once had to apologize after loudly yelling that the Conservative Minister of Environment was a “piece of shit” in the House of Commons, Canada’s rough equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives (see halfway through the video below).
Trudeau Is A Hottie
The point is, Trudeau has pizzazz, and Canada’s staid political climate underestimated that. Much like Obama, the media lapped up Trudeau’s every move and portrayed him as a fresh symbol of hope and change. Trailing third behind the NDP and Conservatives, Trudeau was expected to fizzle into obscurity as the race progressed. After all, his Liberal Party was reduced in the last Canadian federal election to a husk of its former self and an all but irrelevant political force. Instead, he waited for the NDP and Conservatives to chip away at each other and then stepped into the gap that they left. Indeed, no major pollster or pundit really expected him to overtake his opponents and resuscitate the Liberal Party brand in the dramatic way he did.
Given his political allies like Ontario’s premier, Kathleen Wynne, who brought in a carbon emissions system similar to California’s, led Ontario into a fiscal black hole, and pushed through a radical sex-education curriculum, Trudeau’s critics are wary. The curriculum teaches about masturbation, so-called “gender expression” in fourth grade, as well as same-sex relationships and transgender topics by the time kids are eight years old. Ironically, much of the pushback against the changes comes from socially conservative immigrants to Canada. This is the exact same segment of the population Trudeau purports to stand in solidarity with when it comes to practicing their faith keeping their cultural norms.
Despite all of this, much of the politically-neutral and uninformed, as well as even some of Canada’s Right, seems vaguely curious how Trudeau will do, if not also a tiny bit overtaken by his charm. He’s the new, young guy, the one who will restore an image that Canadians think is more peaceful and inclusionary. Obama, Obama, Obama.
Plus, he’s planning to include a lot more women in his top government appointments, so there’s that. Granted, any of the numerous adoring female fans he took selfies with on the campaign trail would probably be happy to serve, but Trudeau does have to pick ones with some political experience. Surely Canada can rest assured the best candidates will get the job, not just those with the superior (female) gender. Right? While Trudeau may not have binders full of women, he’s surely got his eye on a few candidates who are well-suited for ministerial responsibilities.
The Internet has also noticed that Trudeau’s kind of ridiculously good-looking.
Apparently he has the Internet collectively “sweating maple syrup” and British tabloids are asking important questions like whether he is the sexiest politician in the world. (Can Vladimir Putin really compete? I mean, let’s get real.)
So, To Recap
Canada’s new prime minister was swept into office on a platform promising “Real Change.” He is enjoying a surge of nostalgic media portrayals and hopeful progressive paeans as he prepares to take office. It is unfair to judge Trudeau before he begins ruling, but it’s reasonable to say he is already looking like an Obama Lite, though with a few fewer overseas drone strikes on civilians.
Trudeau plans to run a deficit in order to stimulate the economy with a massive spending program to build up infrastructure. He doesn’t want what he calls “ideological tax cuts proposed by the Conservatives.” These apparently include giving tax breaks to small business, many of whom are basically tax scam fronts for the very wealthy, according to Trudeau. Instead, he wants a tax plan based on “fairness” that hikes taxes on the rich and gives a break to middle-class families.
Large voter turnout elected a man who champions causes of the far social Left, believes in left-wing economics and social justice, and advocates being friends wherever possible, even with nasty conservatives. (Unless they actually stand in the way of his policies.)
Canada is in for some interesting times.