In the dying moments of the first federal election debate, Justin Trudeau gave the kind of polarizing speech that only he could give.
Some found it worthy of goosebumps, others of groans. And in an unexpected moment mere minutes later, a reporter told him directly it was “kind of horrible.”
The Liberal leader was the last to speak but rather than talk policy, he opted to address the millions of dollars Conservatives have spent on attack ads aimed at convincing Canadians he’s “not ready.”
The son of a former prime minister, at times accused of coasting on inherited mystique, also tellingly invoked his famous father.
“What I learned from my father is that in order to lead this country, you need to love this country,” he said. “Love it more than you crave power. It needs to run through your veins. You need to feel it in your bones.”
Tory leader Stephen Harper, he charged, wants Canadians to believe “better” isn’t possible.
“We are who we are and Canada is what it is because in our hearts we’ve always known that better is always possible,” he said.
Watch the full video below:
Trudeau’s theatrical approach was distinct from both Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.
“This election is about who has the proven experience to keep Canada safe and our economy strong,” Harper said at the start of his two-minute closer.
Mulcair, meanwhile, largely used his time to criticize the Tory leader's performance managing the economy.
“He’s run up eight deficits in a row and added $150 billion to Canada’s debt,” the NDP leader said.
Reaction online to Trudeau’s closer was decidedly mixed.
Justin Trudeau's close is excellent. Only goosebumps moment tonight. Good challenge of the Not Ready narrative— David Coletto (@Colettod) August 7, 2015
Harper: The wolf’s at the door
Mulcair: I’m at the door
May: There is no door
Trudeau: I'm inspired by the doorAugust 7, 2015
With his closing statement, Trudeau was on the verge of saying, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose." #macdebate— Marty Chan (@Marty_Chan) August 7, 2015
The Trudeau closing speech is... Ouch #macdebate— Tim Ellis (@DJDynamicNC) August 7, 2015
Trudeau talks poetically and lovingly of this beautiful country in his closing statement. The only one to offer inspiration. #macdebate— Jodi Williams (@Jodi_Williams_) August 7, 2015
Justin Trudeau emphasizes the myth of his inadequacy for the PM role by highlighting it first in his closing remarks at #macdebate.— Bill Mous (@spiritedmouse) August 7, 2015
Trudeau had a very strong debate until this closing speech... #macdebate— Connor Turner (@ctoverdrive) August 7, 2015
Trudeau's closing speaks to why I'm a Liberal. Because I believe we can be better, and that together we can be great. #elxn42— Jeff Jedras (@jeffjedras) August 7, 2015
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Harper’s former communications director was not impressed.
‘Your Closing Remarks, They Were Kind Of Horrible’
Reporter Peter Kim of Global News Toronto was blunt in his assessment.
“Your closing remarks, they were kind of horrible,” Kim said to Trudeau later as the Liberal leader answered reporters’ questions about the debate.
“What kind of message were your trying to communicate with those closing remarks because they were markedly different from everyone else’s?”
Trudeau replied that he was trying to communicate the “connection that I have been blessed to have with Canadians all my life.”
The Liberal leader added that Harper’s vision for Canada is to be grateful for what we already have and not aspire for more.
“Well, I disagree with that, and I know Canadians disagree with that,” the Liberal leader said. “And that what was exactly what I was happy to address in my close.”
Mulcair and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also spoke with reporters after the debate. Harper, however, did not.
What are your thoughts on Trudeau's closer? Tell us in the comments.