Justin Trudeau has faced hardship in his life. He spent his early years in 24 Sussex, but was abruptly exiled from the Prime Ministerial palace because of his father’s retirement, and the ascendance of the accursed scourge, Mulroney. Now he has vowed to return to his rightful childhood home, but must first evict the squatter, Harper, from within it.
Such is likely not the premise of Justin Trudeau’s new memoir, “Common Ground: My Past, Our Present and Canada’s Future,” whose title is missing an oxford comma in an attempt to seem hip, cool, and without regard for sensible grammar. The premise will almost certainly be “elect me because I’m so cool and buzzwords future Canada prosperous middle class.”
He will undoubtedly deal with the dynasty problem through balancing “my dad taught me things and gave me experience,” with “but don’t worry I’m not my dad and I won’t make any of his mistakes.”
While they say that Justin took a break from his tough summer work of speaking tours and barbecues to write down some things about his life, it is important to note that it’s unlikely that he actually wrote it. More likely, he and a communications director made a list of points that were both “at least 50% true” and “would make <insert demographic here> like Justin better.” Someone writes the first draft, another staffer fleshes it out, and Justin takes the picture. HarperCollins insists that Justin wrote every word, but how would they even know if that were true? Maybe he did, but there’s no way to know.
The point of this book is to “introduce” Justin to the electorate (people other than the frantic teenage girls who want pictures with him). It’s a chance for him to explain that he won’t burn down the country as soon as Stephen walks away from the stove.
But are memoirs the best way to do it? Concerning Justin, we all know that he’ll regurgitate the correct words in the correct order when he’s brought on stage by his handlers. We all know that on paper, he sounds smart enough. It’s when he’s unscripted, for example when he picked China as the country he admired most in the world because of their “basic dictatorship,” or when he says things like “see, I don’t just do this with my own kids” with regard to lifting babies in the air by their feet, that people begin to mistrust him.
For Justin, he doesn’t need to issue more well-worded statements that may or may not have been written by him. We have enough of those in Liberal fundraising emails. What Justin needs to do is more unscripted speaking events without sounding like a crazy person or a child. Instead, whenever he takes questions or goes off-script, he either regurgitates slogans (“strong middle class,” “hope and hard work,” etc), or says the darndest things (“the US military is known to make mistakes from time to time”). Maybe he should start focusing on his last name for branding and marketing purposes. That is, after all, commonplace in just about every North American political leader, with the first name reserved for name calling (e.g., Harper vs. Steve).
This campaign book will probably sell well. Anyone who loves him already will eat up every word, post quotes as Facebook statuses, and buy it for their friends as presents. Anyone who is on the fence will be reassured that he has the capacity to have ideas.
But anyone who has actually heard him speak will remember the few lines that didn’t quite work. The ones that seemed half-memorized, or seem to have come from the cutting room floor of a slogan filled memoir.