Far from being just a hairdo, Trudeau offers a new style of politics

After seven years of stasis, change is finally coming to Canadian politics. That change is Justin Trudeau.

We’ve all heard the criticism. We’ve been told that he lacks substance. We’ve been told that he lacks experience. We’ve been told that good looks don’t qualify one to run the country.

We’ve also been told that he wouldn’t be here if his last name wasn’t Trudeau. In the January 15 issue of The National Post, Kelly McParland wrote, “I can’t help feeling that the party will only diminish the respect it deserves if it picks the one [leadership candidate] who is there largely on the basis of his parentage rather than his achievements.”

Yet in spite of the fact that Canadians are constantly barraged by anti-Trudeau rhetoric, the Justin train continues to plough along — full steam ahead. A recent poll released by the Post confirms that fully 41 per cent of respondents would vote for a Trudeau-led Liberal Party.

Clearly, despite the criticism, something about Justin Trudeau resonates with Canadians. What exactly is this mysterious x-factor that makes Trudeau so appealing? Surely, it is more than his effortlessly perfect hair. Certainly, it is more than his charisma.  And I for one will give Canadians the benefit of the doubt and assume that they aren’t drawn to Justin simply because of his last name.

Voter turnout is so low in this country in part because youth aren’t engaged in politics. And who can blame them? How can twenty-somethings relate to dull old men in dull old suits who blatantly refuse to connect with the youth?

Trudeau is a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t have the angry aloofness of the Harpers and Mulcairs of the world. He bears his tattoos with pride. He enthusiastically engages with young people. And he isn’t afraid to make mistakes.

Most importantly, Trudeau understands how Barack Obama took America in 2008. His team has understood that whoever brings Canadian politics into the digital age will command tremendous political power. Be it through arrogance or resistance to change, Canada’s older political leaders have neglected to truly harness social media.

Should Trudeau win the Liberal leadership, they will pay dearly for that mistake.  While Trudeau tweets his way to success, Harper and Mulcair will be powerless to connect with our generation.

Andrew Coyne claims that Trudeau is a quick cop-out for the Liberal Party; an attempt to capitalize on celebrity for electoral gain. Trudeau, he says, will bring no change to the party, only more of the same.

To my mind, Coyne couldn’t be more wrong. Justin Trudeau represents a fundamental shift from the paradigm of typical Canadian politics. In choosing him, the Liberals would not only be confessing the need for internal change, but the deeper need to bring Canada’s political system into the twenty-first century.

Justin Trudeau is the antithesis of Stephen Harper. Trudeau is a man of the people.  Harper preaches from the pulpit; Trudeau sits with the congregation.

As Women’s Issues Director for the University of Toronto Liberals, I happily and unqualifiedly endorse Justin Trudeau for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Bring on the change. It’s time for Trudeaumania 2.0.

Devyn Noonan is Women’s Issues Director of the U of T Liberals.



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