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Apparently some aspects of Harry Potter have rubbed off on Canadian politics. Alas, I’m not talking about flying cars, magic, Polyjuice potion, Quidditch and owls.

Much like some characters in the series, several of Canada’s political leaders and their supplicants have become paralyzed at the mere mention of one individual’s name; and so avoid using it. In the Harry Potter series that person was Lord Voldemort (Tom Marvolo Riddle) aka Lord Voldemort or The Dark Lord. To Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair that person is Justin Trudeau.

Both the Conservative and NDP leader (and their respective worshipers) are refusing to use Mr. Trudeau’s name when they reference him in public. Mr. Harper refers to him as simply “Justin” (who knew they were on such familiar terms), while Mulcair—when he mentions Trudeau at all—would rather call him “The Third Party Leader.” Pointedly Harper has had a tendency to refer to his opponents with familiar terms in the past—at least with Jack Layton—Harper always referred to him as Jack. In the House of Commons you aren’t allowed to use individual MPs names and as such, refer to them as “The Honourable Member” from their respective riding. Outside the Commons, in public and in debates, usually the last name is used. However while Mr. Trudeau refers to all the other leaders by their last names or their titles, and while Mr. Mulcair and Mr. Harper refer to each other by their last name, the two seem to be unable to utter the name “Trudeau” let alone the prefix Mister before hand—much as many characters in Harry Potter can’t say Voldemort.

Now Voldemort is referred to as either He Who Must Not Be Named or The Dark Lord or You Know Who by those who don’t have the stomach to speak his name. As Albus Dumbledore says, and Hermione Granger reiterates “Fear of a name only increases fear of a thing itself.” This suggests that despite Mulcair and Harper “believing” the Liberals have been obliterated, it is quite clear that they have not. Not that Trudeau has much in common with The Dark Lord (for one Trudeau doesn’t look like a snake, has hair and isn’t sixty years old). But one thing they do have in common is that each has their own brand of magic which they are able to work on supporters and opponents (for better or worse, depending on how you look at the situation).


This is what Trudeau looks like without the hair and makeup!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Stephen (if he got familiar so can we) and Tom gave their own excuses as to why they don’t use “Trudeau,” and none of those excuses seems to be Fear itself. The Tories are defensive and insist that the Liberals are using his first name like he’s a celebrity—because celebrities have only a first name. It’s a tough admission to make; that the Liberal Leader is a celebrity for Canadians and Stephen Harper isn’t. Although after four elections it was about time they recognized that “Harper-mania” just wasn’t happening.

Meanwhile Mulcair dismisses using Trudeau’s name until he actually does something worth mentioning. I suppose that means we can refer to the NDP leader as simply the NDP leader since in his sixty years he hasn’t really done much either.

Analysts suggest that the act of avoiding the Trudeau name is to avoid the memory of Pierre Trudeau (who remains popular in some parts of the country, believe it or not). Since he wasn’t terribly popular in the West, maybe separating Justin from his father’s legacy could be a good thing and could help the Trudeau camp. However they also suggest that it’s a way of dismissing Trudeau’s importance and could be an attempt to highlight his “youth” and “inexperience.” Given that both Harper and Mulcair are one step away from collecting their seniors pensions and are from a different generation of politicians (that last bit may backfire on them).

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau yawns as he votes during the 14th hour of voting on amendments to the budget Bill C38 in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 14, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Young Whipper Snappers shouldn’t be yawning  Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 14, 2012.

For whatever reasons, the name Trudeau is feared in NDP and Tory camps and these strategies to avoid the name are a sign of the fear that our own “You Know Who” instills in his opponents. Perhaps Tom and Stephen should crack open  some copies of the series and learn that they shouldn’t be afraid of just a name; something they missed learning back when they were nine and three quarters. It’s the person they need to be afraid of.