On Justin Trudeau, the new leader of the Liberal Party

I was asked about Justin Trudeau’s election recently, and I ended up typing the following, which I share (this is top-of-head, unedited text):

“I figured he’d eventually run for the Liberal leadership, but maybe at the next cycle.

That being said, I am now more hopeful, even optimistic. The “role” that he looks to be set to fill, whether liberal_leader_trudeau_20130415inadvertently or not, is the “hopey-changey” role. That of the “new generation”, “new future” and a “new way to do politics”. He’s saying the right things both for the Liberal party (“open nomination contests in all 338 ridings“) and the country (“enough divisive politics; yes, we can think about ‘root causes’; more power for the backbenches [I’m a fan of that one]”).

Regrettably for the NDP, I find that the Trudeau phenomenon (and we can differentiate between the man and the persona/phenomenon, if we so wish) is the one taking the baton passed on by Jack Layton. At the time of the NDP leadership campaign, I bemoaned the missed opportunity for both Canada and the NDP not to have gone with a Nathan Cullen, and worse still, to go with a Thomas Mulcair. So far, unfortunately, I’m seeing that concern being validated.

The NDP is trying too hard to be “electable”, thereby un-defining itself. Recently, the NDP sided with the Harper Conservatives in faulting Trudeauthomas-mulcair-2 for wondering out loud about the causes of terrorism. It was very un-NDP-like, and transparent in its calculation of being “electable”. It also showed that the NDP feels threatened by Trudeau. A sincere party like Jack Layton’s NDP never felt ‘threatened’, because it wasn’t calculating — it had the sincerity of conviction to know that its way, its values, were better for everytone, better for society. The Orange Wave was merely a reflection of the average Canadian catching up with, and believing in, Jack Layton’s positive way. Turning to Thomas Mulcair was at the worst time for the NDP. M. Mulcair is certainly a very strong politician, and can duke it out with Harper. But the NDP got its “fighter” at a time when Canadians no longer want to see their politicians “duking it out”; when Canadians are ready for a new direction.

As I said in my note to the Globe and Mail on the day after Mulcair’s win, “As he attempts to *re*-define the NDP, Mulcair risks *un*-defining it.” It’s happening.

Today, however, I see signs of hope for the federal Liberal party, and I am optimistic about the readiness of the electorate to hear a different narrative. The electorate has grown 1. tired and 2. aware of the slick political tactics of the Harperites, and if they sense a whiff of it elsewhere (e.g. the NDP doing un-NDP-like things), they will be turned off.

One last thing, a bit out of sequence: if Trudeau gets elected, I was happy to learn that he shares my view on what I believe to be the best electoral reform: a “ranked ballot”, as Trudeau calls it. It’s the most easily implementable, thus the most likely to succeed (Proportional Representation failed when put to a vote in B.C. due to its extreme 4-step complexity). And let’s make no mistake: the single most important thing that needs to happen after the 2015 election is electoral reform.

Anyways, this is becoming quite long, and I could go on! Cheers,”

ADDENDUM: with the events of the past week and witnessing the actions and reactions of both the Conservatives and the NDP towards Trudeau, it was starkly clear that both feel a threat by this new, “different” animal on parliament hill. In these early days of his leadership, it does seem that Justin Trudeau has indeed changed the channel to a New Way of doing politics.

 

Originally published here: http://ow.ly/UhHvK

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