Ready or Not, Here Comes Trudeau
The past few weeks have brought a jolt of excitement Canada has not seen in decades (not counting every hockey game ever), and it’s all around one man. Mr. Harper may still call him Justin from his newly furnished Calgary home, but Canadians now know him more formally as The Right Honourable Justin Pierre James Trudeau, our 23rd and very current Prime Minister.
His October 19 conquest of Canada, bringing his Liberal party to the greatest seat increase in Canadian history, was the culmination of a grueling 75-day election.
For left-leaning progressives, Trudeau’s victory represented a shift back to normalcy, after the Conservatives seemingly drained all that they held sacred as “Canadian” from the country, with Stephen Harper, a joyless, robotic and—in some circles—a vaguely fascist pencil pusher, silencing dissent and molding the nation after our much more polarized neighbors to the South.
Looking at some of the major sectors of Canadian politics, it will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Trudeau compares to both the public’s expectation for his office and the actions of his predecessors.
For those on the right, Trudeau is an airhead—a man whose flakey liberal arts background (and various fashion and follicle statements) represents a Canada unaware of real issues like foreign unrest and economic stability—while Harper steered the country out of recession and kept Canada economically prosperous. And any challenge to that was simply uninformed left-wing finger pointing.
For many of us, both these angles are dramatic hyperbole. We are happy with change. Nine years of Conservative governance took their toll, but we still have major questions, namely: Can we trust a Liberal majority? This is the party that last governed in 2006, making a truly ungraceful exit on the backs of various scandals of economic mismanagement. Ralph Goodale, who was Minister of Finance during those final years, is back in cabinet, albeit in a diminished role, but does his presence mean that Trudeau might be subject to the same influence that doomed predecessors like Martin and Chretien?
Right or wrong, there is no doubting Stephen Harper’s diplomatic convictions. Are we really that crazy to think that Justin may not have the diplomatic chops to duke it out with career politicians worldwide? Many are quick to point out that Trudeau had more federal political experience than both JFK and Barack Obama in the senate before their ascension to the Presidency, but Kennedy spent six years in the House before the Senate, and Obama seven years in the state senate. Trudeau was no slouch, acting as an activist before winning a seat in 2008, but the comparison no longer holds the same strength on further investigation.
Even with a majority, how much can Trudeau really change? Climate critics are already concerned about the Liberals ambitious plans to address the environment, with Trudeau reportedly not changing the Conservative Emissions plan that he is bringing to the much publicized Paris Climate Conference on November 30th. On the economy, despite his opponents’ insistence to admit Canada was technically in a recession, Harper’s economy has seen steady growth since the election campaign, what more can Trudeau really do?
As a self-confessed “tweener”, who holds no political allegiance or red-hot passion for one ideology or another, these are questions that I still ask. I along with a majority of Canada grew tired of the Conservative insistence to “other” minorities and campaign on the fear of “cultural barbaric practices” that seemed to only target a certain culture. As a lover of the arts (and a son of an entertainment lawyer whose practice rests on cultural prosperity), I am hopeful for more opportunity for all sorts of artistic expression that had been scrapped for “practical reasons”.
I admired the exceptional group of ministers that were appointed on November 4, and I agree that in 2015 Canadian government must look like the Canadian people. Maybe it is my Canadian sensibilities, but I am still nervous and skeptical concerning such a grand paradigmatic shift. I wish I knew more about our new leader other than who his father was or how good he is at falling down stairs on purpose.
Hopefully this new era can settle the nerves of us “tweeners”, so we may have a better response to “he’s just not ready” than simply “nice hair though!”
Ethan Gordon is a Staff Writer for Juris Diction. He is in 1L.