Friday, May 30, 2014
Setting the bar for Justin Trudeau
He's shallow, gaffe-prone and possesses, at best, average intelligence. But Justin Trudeau is also the leader of "Canada's Natural Governing Party." And those quotes are not there for the purpose of irony. They may have been out of power since 2006, but the Canadian Liberal Party is the New York Yankees of politics. They've been in power longer than any other political party in a democracy over the last 100 years and they can never completely be counted out.
It is also, since the retirement of Trudeau pere, a party that eats its young and, like the ancient Carthaginians, will not allow its failed leaders to survive.
So I thought I'd shoot off a couple of quick thoughts about where I think the bar for Prince Bonehead is in the next federal election.
The Liberals have been in decline since the palace coup that Paul Martin and his supporters pulled on Jean Chretien, and their fortunes have plummeted further under both Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. Under Mr. Ignatieff, the unthinkable happened and the Liberals sunk to unprecedented third-party status.
But while Justin Trudeau's intellect may be a small fraction of Michael Ignatieff's, one thing that can be said for the walking haircut is that he is more of natural politician than his predecessor. (That, by the way, considering my views of politicians, is far more of a compliment to Mr. Ignatieff than to Mr. Trudeau fils.) So the question is whether, should he not become the next Prime Minister of Canada, the Liberal Party will jettison Justin Trudeau the way it has its other losers.
My opinion on this is that it depends on whether he can bring them back to Official Opposition status. The Liberals are almost certainly going to make gains in the next election, most of which will come from Quebec, where a lot of people are feeling buyers' remorse after their protest votes made the NDP the province's main parliamentary representatives. But it won't be a cakewalk for Trudeau either. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is a very skilled, smart politician, completely fluent in French, and extremely well attuned to attitudes in his home province of Quebec.
Prince Bonehead also has the advantage of changes made to the Liberals' leadership selection process. The new rules, where anyone with party membership can vote in the leadership convention, would have meant that had he run for it, Justin Bieber rather than Justin Trudeau would be the current Liberal leader. Since winning his party's leadership, the unmusical Justin has imposed considerably less democratic conditions for riding nominees than he himself used to attain his position. That isn't necessarily a bad long-term political move, but it most definitely is ironic.
In the person of Marc Garneau, the Liberals have a next leader-in-waiting. He has a position favoring proportional representation that I find absurd, but Garneau is honest, extremely intelligent, can carry Quebec, and has national appeal. Also, unfortunately, while he may be the epitome of decency, the former astronaut has less charisma than an otter playing a keyboard.
Taking all those conditions into account, my prediction is that if Prince Bonehead can take the Liberals from third to second party status in the next election, he'll be given one more shot at the crown. That means the bar is pretty low compared to previous Liberal leaders from whom the expectation was either victory or death. But if Trudeau can't get over that small hurdle, I'd get ready to see a new Liberal leader within the next couple of years.