Justin Trudeau was not supposed to become Prime Minister of Canada, and yet he was born to be just that very thing. The 2nd youngest Prime Minister in Canadian history was third in the polls just a few months prior to his election, and did not hold his first elected office until 2008. On the other hand, he was born the son of famous Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and his ascension to the position of Prime Minister signals the Trudeau family as being a political dynasty in Canada. Richard Nixon, in 1972 at a state dinner reportedly raised his cup to the young baby in attendance and said, “I’d like to toast to the future prime minister of Canada: To Justin Pierre Trudeau.”
Trudeau was born in 1971 when his father was Prime Minister of Canada, and as such he grew up accustomed to the privilege and power that come with being in Canada’s highest governmental office. Trudeau was educated in a private Jesuit school and would go on to study literature and become a teacher. Trudeau also worked as a white water rafting guide, actor, bungee jump coach, bouncer, and worked as a charity boxer prior to becoming an elected official.
However, when disaster struck in 1998 with the tragic death of his brother Michel in an avalanche, Trudeau was launched into a different life.
After Michel’s death, Justin’s father Pierre never recovered, and eventually died in 2000 of prostate cancer that he refused treatment for and kept secret from Justin. It was in 2000 that Trudeau gave a moving eulogy of his father which is now famous in Canadian history.
Ascension to Parliament
After his eloquent eulogy for his father, the calls for Trudeau to become a politician were deafening, but he resisted this temptation and chose to lead his father’s charity Katimavik which worked with youth in Canada. Trudeau was also in demand as a speaker and was always quick to encourage volunteerism amongst youth.
However, in 2008 with the liberal party losing seats, Trudeau was elected to the parliament representing Papineau, Quebec, one of the poorest and most diverse areas in all of Canada. However, the liberal slide continued into 2011 as the conservatives in Parliament continued to gain more seats and institute what Trudeau and others saw as being a sort of American brand of conservatism in Canada.
Faced with a new uncertainty, liberals looked to Trudeau to right the ship, but sticking to his refusal to use his name as a career springboard Trudeau said:
Because of the history packaged into my name, a lot of people are turning to me in a way that … to be blunt, concerns me
However, Trudeau did become the leader of the party in 2013 by an overwhelming margin of victory and in his acceptance speech asked liberals to join together and end their years of infighting.
I don’t care if you thought my father was great or arrogant,”It doesn’t matter to me whether you were a Chrétien Liberal or a Martin Liberal … The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, right now, tonight.”
Trudeau’s leadership of the party has been short, but in his two years as leader they saw a majority return to Parliament as well as Trudeau’s ascension to the top of Canadian government.
A message of positivity
In a world where politics seems ruled by negativity Justin Trudeau stands above the fray. Whether it is Viktor Orban’s warning of “foreign fighters” and the migration crisis or Bernie Sanders’ warnings about the “top 1%” politics has a strictly negative feel in 2015.
Justin Trudeau totally pushes back against that notion, and it is his message of positivity that has made him so popular in Canada today. They love that he did Yoga in front of the parliament building, that he smoked pot, and that he has a tattoo. His hair, often criticized for being too long, made him even more endearing to the public.
He has called for the government to run a deficit, to hike taxes on the top 1% in Canada, and to stimulate the Canadian economy which is struggling as the global price of oil falls.
When criticized for being too young or frivolous for politics Trudeau embraces the criticism, saying:
I know that I am a younger person than many . . . than the other leaders, anyway, but I have taken that as an advantage,” Because my style of approach is to gather around me brilliant people.”
Trudeau is inexperienced, but he has been open about surrounding himself by experts in his cabinet, many of whom are not politicians but experts in their assigned field.
Trudeau is a media darling. He is good looking, young, positive, and from a politically famous family. His policies are left of center, and his messaging has been impeccable. He has recently made headlines by appointing half of his cabinet positions to women, responding to criticism for this with “because it is 2015,” and in addition he is committed to issues like climate change, help for the middle class, and legalizing marijuana.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) November 30, 2015
All of this being said, Justin Trudeau has far from arrived in becoming a major world leader. He has shown that he can inspire his people, but can he lead them? Trudeau has the pedigree, a top notch cabinet, and the kind of ethics and morality that make for a good politician. Now, he will face his toughest challenge, and the world will be watching.