3. Justin Trudeau
Photo: Justin Trudeau lands a blow against Tory senator Patrick Brazeau in a boxing match earlier this year. (CP photo)
‘Prime minister in waiting’ has been Justin Trudeau’s unofficial title ever since he became an MP in 2007. But it was in 2012 that Canadians actually started to think that Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s first-born son might actually be up to the job.
It started with his heavily publicized boxing victory over Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau in March.
Many Canadians took one look at Brazeau’s biceps and decided that Trudeau didn’t stand a chance.
Trudeau, meanwhile, hit the gym, honing his skills and strategy.
On fight night, Trudeau endured savage strikes in the first round, calmly waiting for Brazeau to tire. When he did, Trudeau used his reach advantage and superior technique to score a convincing victory.
With one swing, Trudeau put his reputation as a flaky, inexperienced golden boy behind him. All of a sudden, he started to look like a real contender.
The shift in perception could not have come at a better time for the MP from Papineau.
The question of whether interim Liberal leader Bob Rae would try to stay on as the chief of the troubled party was already on Ottawa’s mind. Now, it could not be considered without reference to Trudeau.
Eventually, Rae decided not to run, and it seems likely Trudeau’s growing momentum had more than a little to do with the decision.
When Trudeau formally launched his leadership campaign in October, Canada’s TV networks carried the speech live. Trudeaumania, the sequel, was upon us.
Then came the polls, many of them pointing to the possibility that a Trudeau-led Liberal Party could actually win a majority.
Trudeau faces at least two credible challengers for the Liberal crown in Marc Garneau and Martha Hall Findlay and has already suffered through a few campaign missteps, but it is difficult to imagine anyone else accepting the leadership at the Liberal convention in April.
And if he does win, Trudeau will be able to credit more than his famous name and boxing victory.
The next federal election is still a long way off, but Trudeau was certainly on the right path in 2012. If he can maintain the momentum, he may very well put the ‘in waiting’ part behind him.
— Michael Bolen