Method to Trudeau’s madness (no really)


Lord only knows why Justin Trudeau does what he does. Remember when, in 2008, he delivered a series of YouTube speeches where he alternated between French and English with dizzying, James Stewart-calibre earnestness? Or when he tumbled down some stairs during an interview, just for fun? Or when he swathed himself and his family in beaver pelts, or whatever, for the yearly Christmas card? Or when he said the environment minister was a piece of shit? Or when he actually went out in public looking like one of the Three Musketeers? He always seems to be swaying between self-aggrandisement and self-mockery, keeping the poor voting public guessing as to why, exactly, he says and does such outright silly things.

Given the track record, it’s tempting to chalk Trudeau’s most recent sortie, in which he mused favourably about a separate Quebec should the sulphurous reign of Harper continue unabated, as just another screwball Trudeau moment. As CCC (Colleague Colby Cosh) notes nicely today, Trudeau ain’t exactly his pappy when it comes to matters of the noggin. Cosh also nails it when he says that Trudeau’s wail against the Conservative status quo is the mother of all straw man arguments:

Harper’s party has not only accepted the legal fact of same-sex marriage, but has promised to shore it up against the disrepair in which the prior Liberal regime left it.


But maybe, just maybe, Trudeau’s wee pro-sovereignty speech might be something more than him trying his damnedest to fall on his face—figuratively, this time. Or Justin fell ass-backwards into a moment of political cunning. Either way, him chatting up the virtues of a sovereign Quebec in Harper’s Canada wasn’t necessarily the dumbest thing since bad facial hair.

Trudeau represents the riding of Papineau, a small, densely populated, multicultural and comparatively poor riding that is the exact opposite to neighbouring Mont Royal, his father’s former seat. And unlike Mont Royal, where a side of ham could get elected as long as someone spray-painted it Liberal red, Papineau has been prone to political flights of fancy as of late. The Bloquiste Vivian Barbot dethroned then-cabinet minister Pierre Pettigrew here in 2006. And while Trudeau beat Barbot in 2008, he did so by less than 1200 votes. In 2011, Trudeau won again but saw his share of the vote drop by about three per cent, largely at the expense of a fencepost NDP candidate.

If nothing else, recent election results suggest that, the Trudeau name notwithstanding, Papineau is hardly a reliable beachhead for the type of unbending big ‘L’Liberalism espoused by Justin’s father. And, as the success of first the Bloc and then the NDP show, Papineau’s residents (those who vote, anyway) aren’t without a certain nationalist streak that begins in somewhere in Villeray and comes to an abrupt end in Mont Royal.

By suggesting that he’s open to the idea of Quebec sovereignty, Trudeau shows he’s not the unyielding federalist disdained by many of the voters in his own riding. This is particularly important given the scramble for the hearts and minds of those former soft nationalist voters who have been more or less orphaned by the implosion of the Bloc Québécois. In this, the NDP has a distinct advantage over the Liberals; Québec solidaire, the lefty (and nominally sovereignist) provincial party is popular in Papineau, and is firmly (if quietly) behind the NDP at the moment.

Trudeau’s bon mots about sovereignty might well have been another of his WTF moments. Unlike dressing his family up like the Genghis Khan clan, however, there might have been a bit of smart amid all his usual self-infatuated bluster.

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Method to Trudeau’s madness (no really)

  1. Yes, really.

    I’m sorry, but I find the whole ‘controversy’ hilarious.

    We want bilingual, and then find his bilingualism bewildering.

    We want someone who isn’t stiff and starchy…..and he has a really cool party trick.

    Everybody in Parliament wears sealskin somedays…meh.  But let Justin send out a Xmas card…….!

    The media seems fascinated by his ‘facial hair’, but Mulcair wanders around in a full beard all the time and nobody notices.

    Goodness, Justin even uses ‘bad language’….when Harper does it, no one cares.

    He has two degrees, but…horrors…. he’s ‘not an intellectual’…even though we just turfed Ignatieff for being one!

    I’m waiting for the tattoos, and the muscles to be made much of next. And boxing….very studly…even if he loses, he wins.

    Fascinating apparently, and frustrating and a real puzzlement….same things that were said about his father.

    And you guys trail him around.

  2. Is that faint praise you’re hitting him over the head with there MP? Love him or laugh at him JT marches to his own drum and people should give up looking for the all encompassing vision of Canada his pappy had the intellectual horse power to fuel for the better part of 16 years in office and way beyond?

    [ the guy did actually have the grace to admit that but pile on PM anyway if it makes you feel superior?]

    Or does he? It occurred to me he might, just might, since he actually lives like in Quebec, have a bit of a guage of the public’s mood there? Somehow the LPC has to contrive to both find a new paradigm for connecting with Quebecers and still wrap themselves to some degree in the security blankie of Trudeau seniors vision of Canada, without dragging it in the dirt or simply tossing it on the trash heap like a worn out shoe. Maybe he knows that as well as any liberal? Or maybe he is just a joke put on this earth just to make pundits like you feel superior?

  3. Shorter Patriquin:  Admittedly, Justin Trudeau ain’t playing chess, and let’s face it, he probably ain’t playing checkers either, but maybe, just maybe, he’s playing charades!  

    Trudeau is using his substitute drama teacher skills to woo orphaned BQ voters who don’t like unambiguous federalists!

    • substitute drama teacher skills..oh .very droll.

      Oh well it’s your turn today. Tomorrow or the day after we can get back to wondering if a masters and zero real world experience entittles a PM to claim to be an economist or not?

      Thankgod he doesn’t have a degree in international studies, we might have to take his views on Iran or China as seriously.

  4. I think Trudeau simply shows that in this day and age Canadian unity is not the be all and end all of Canadian politics.  With a prime minister who prioritizes his vision of less government over Canadian unity I find it quite normal that more and more Quebecers feel the way Mr. Trudeau does, including long-time federalists.  Canada is not indivisible.  We recognize this in law. 

  5. By suggesting that he’s open to the idea of Quebec sovereignty, Trudeau
    shows he’s not the unyielding federalist disdained by many of the voters
    in his own riding.

    Nice if he had thought of that, but one guesses that isn’t the case.

    Justin is Justin, passionate about his legacy not a politician whatsoever.

  6. Trudeau is not for Canada bat for hem self, He is not for the best of the people bat his own interest.

    • Well his mop does look a little like bat wings come to think of it.

  7. Wow. This is petty writing. 

  8. I imagine Cosh’s father is far smarter than he will ever be too. 

    • LOL…i don’t really know why that’s funny, but it is. [ sure hope CC’s dad is hale and happy]  

  9. A pretty daring strategy. 

    I can’t picture Pierre Trudeau living in what may be the Harperland of the future, or any other previous PM either.

  10. That’s what I said!  Over at Cosh’s.

    Thanks for seeing that, too. 

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