This article is part of our series Counter-Counter-Counter-Point. For a more sardonic portrait of Trudeau, check out Anthony Marcus’ take.
Justin Trudeau has done the impossible: he’s proven to the world that you can actually get a job with a BA in Literature. More than that, he’s proven that he can actually appeal to young voters, despite said degree. Justin Trudeau, son of the Prime Minister best known for his “just watch me” public policy, is the Liberal leader for the 2015 federal election, and is currently following in daddy’s footsteps.
If he isn’t working the whole ‘don’t vote for me because of my dad, vote for me because of me…but, hey, don’t forget who my dad was, though, ok?,’ he’s working the idealistic thing. According to the message on his official website, Trudeau (‘Hey, Trudeau is my dad, call me Justin’) believes that we find the real Canada in the middle class, and real Canadians need to “step up and serve when [they] think [they] can make a positive difference.” So far, he’s been taking an economically conservative but socially liberal position, but can you really take the best of both sides? Both ends of the political spectrum demand a broader range of attention than an exclusive focus on economic or social issues. The Liberals want it all, and aren’t afraid to debate for months about it. Pretty much all Trudeau has been saying in his campaign is ‘we need positive change from the Liberal Party, so vote for me.’
However, in classic Canadian political style, that’s where his policy ends. Yeah, sure, he’s discussed the importance of educating kids and multiculturalism and all that stuff, but he hasn’t been too clear on what he would do to implement these policies. Now that he’s the leader of the Liberal party, he can’t really take any particular position unless the party is sure that the position will win him sufficient votes. As we all know, you can never be 100% sure of anything in politics, so he’s putting all that BA learning to work and BS-ing to appear as though he knows what he’s doing. Hell, after coming out of McGill Arts so recently, he’s probably better at BS-ing than Harper! So maybe that’s why we should vote for Trudeau: he gets us.
BS-ing may be one of Trudeau’s main strengths—a close second behind his hair-styling ability—but his real talent is appealing to the youths. He’s doing a pretty good job of it too, considering how I’m writing an article about him right now and not Harper. During his political career he’s been mainly promoting education, even in the face of a weakening economy. I think that’s admirable, but that’s not really the best strategy when your voters are all 18-plus and who, save a small demographic, care much more about a healthy economy and paying bills than going to school. He does, however, tie it all together in his “New Generation” message on his website: we need an educated young adult population if we’re going to improve our economy and thus be attractive to foreign and domestic investors.
Who is his biggest competition? Now, I can’t say that his biggest threat is Harper, because Harper sucks at PR. However, we should keep in mind that Harper has become the puppet-master in Parliament. My stance on Harper is that he’s either going to win because of his political sway, or he’s going to lose because Trudeau is just so damn charming. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, except those apples and oranges are in a fruit basket together fighting to be eaten by the same electorate-mouth. Harper and Trudeau are just too different to succinctly compare in this article.
Instead, I’m turning to the main threat to Trudeau’s success: the voter who doesn’t vote. He’s appealing to the 18—29 age group, especially since he’s calling for a “New Generation of Canadian Leadership.” This demographic consists of those who are in the trenches, working toward a job they’re not going to get for a few more decades, who are ‘the future,’ and who are least likely to vote these days. He can’t avoid appealing to young adults without turning his entire campaign on its head. At the same time, tweeting about voting is the closest thing to actually voting that most of this demographic get to.
So what should he do? I think that the Liberal Party should make a point of setting up accessible voting booths in universities across the country, or, better yet, figure out how to let us vote online. Most of us kids are way too busy, way too poor, or way too apathetic to make the journey to the voting booths.
While Trudeau might get most of his popularity from being the fourth most popular Justin in Google (behind Justin Bieber, Justin TV, and Justin Timberlake), does he really deserve all this attention? In other words, can he pull off being a young, JKF-esque Prime Minister while implementing positive policies? It’s hard to say. He seems a little too idealistic on the surface, but charisma can go a long way in Parliament. Combine charisma with some underlying viciousness – which he undoubtedly has, considering how he won with about 80% in the 2013 Liberal candidate election – and Justin Trudeau is a sleeping giant. It might be a good thing to wake him.