Liberal Leadership Update: Trudeaumania?

The Liberal Party’s National Executive is set to meet next Wednesday to set the party’s leadership race rules. Shortly thereafter, Bob Rae will announce his intentions and, from there, the dominos will fall. With BBQ season soon upon us, it won’t take long to figure out who’s running, even if the formal declarations take a bit of time.

One name we are certain to hear a lot about, regardless of whether or not he declares, is Justin Trudeau. In 1968, his dad was a late entry to the race, announcing his candidacy just 50 days before the leadership vote. If Liberals or the media are unsatisfied with the current crop of candidates (a safe bet), we’re likely to hear noise from the Draft Trudeau machine right up until Christmas.

My feeling was always that Justin would be best to wait until “the next time” to run for leader, and I suspect that’s always been his personal preference. However, there’s a very real danger there won’t be a “next time” so there’s a case to be made for seizing the moment, for the good of the Liberal Party. The argument is that Trudeau has the star power neccesary to keep the party relevant, is able to communicate and connect with Canadians, and that despite his name, he’d put a fresh face on a tired brand.

I’m not saying I necesarily buy that argument, but I wouldn’t dismiss it outright.

Pierre's candidacy launched by knocking out Daniel Johnson at constitutional talks. Justin's? By KO of Patrick Brazeau.


Less coy about his intentions is David Bertschi, who is wisely getting his name out there early, to build profile. He’s saying the right things, though I wonder if his Bertschi2012 web url is a sign he’s fated to drop out well before the vote actually happens in 2013.

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7 responses to “Liberal Leadership Update: Trudeaumania?”

  1. Initially, I thought that Justin was pretty superficial. I was disappointed that he was not more like his father: an almost perfect balance between intellectual brilliance and style.
    That was not a fair.
    After watching him more closely, including this weekend at the LPC(Q) convention in Montreal, I am forced to re-evaluate my position on this young and brilliant politician.
    I’m not sure yet if I would like him to win a leadership but I am willing to be convinced.
    Justin will never be his father. But he doesn’t need to be. Nobody else can come close to Pierre Elliott-Trudeau! Justin is who he is, and brilliant in his own way. He has the charisma that no other known political leader has at the moment. Plus, he has this incredibly powerful “brand” that his family name carries. Contrary to most, he is willing to step out of the tight box that other “leaders” are so afraid.
    If Justin chooses to concentrate more on substance instead of style, I think that more and more people will be willing to consider his candidacy seriously. And that could only be a positive for the leadership race and, possible, the future of the Liberal Party and of Canada.

  2. I’m with you on this one. Justin isn’t ready. And while there may be a danger that there “won’t be a next time” for this current incarnation of the Liberal Party, he’d certainly be a contender for whatever kind of party rises should the LPC fall.

  3. My impression of the Canadian Liberals is that they have not been the sort of party that is organized around a few key themes, which they keep advancing in good times and bad. They have sort of been a catch-all party.

    This is an advantage when you are the government or have a good chance of being the next government, as the party can flexibly reposition itself to wherever the center of the electorate has to be. But its a disadvantage as a third party, which has to come up with other arguments to keep activists supporting them.

    So the Liberals want to try to bounce back quickly and become one of the two main parties. If that fails, they then have to think hard about what they stand for, come up with a few themes, and keep hammering them.

    I see Justin Trudeau as fitting in well with a “bounce back quickly” strategy. And they really have only a couple of elections to try that, so they might as well go for it.

  4. Do the Grits “stand” for anything besides nostalgia for charismatic leadership and increasingly desperate attempts to replicate “the glory years”?

    How can you tell?

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