POLITICS

Trudeau Says Accessibility, Selfies 'Not About Image, It's About Substance'

12/16/2015 05:48 EST | Updated 12/16/2015 05:59 EST
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Justin Trudeau is making the case that there's more to his selfies than meets the eye.

For weeks now, he's both delighted and confounded Canadians who aren't accustomed to seeing so much of their prime minister.

Trudeau's popping up all over social media. He was featured in the New York Times Magazine and Vogue, with photos that aren't exactly typical for a Canadian leader.

He also responded on Twitter this week to a journalist's tweet about his favourite movie franchise.

On Tuesday, he took a group of kids from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario to see the latest "Star Wars" movie. A photo of the viewing party made a splash online.

Just saw #TheForceAwakens with friends from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Spoiler: It was amazing! // Je...

Posted by Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Of course, his approach is not everyone's cup of tea. And some have questioned the seriousness of the man sometimes dubbed "Prime Minister Selfie."

In her first speech to the House of Commons as interim Conservative leader this month, Rona Ambrose took a shot at Trudeau's performance at a series of global summits last month.

"While on the international stage we saw leaders of the Western world come together, coalescing around the fight against ISIS, the impression that was left with Canadians and the international community was that our prime minister was consumed with taking selfies," Ambrose said.

"I mention this because it was mentioned to me many times by constituents."

On Wednesday, Trudeau had bad news for Ambrose and any others seemingly rankled by his style — expect more of the same.

justin trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts to a "Star Wars" question during the Maclean's town hall. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

At a town hall hosted by Maclean's, an editor from Chatelaine magazine asked Trudeau how the "charm offensive" considered part of his image was setting the right tone for the federal government.

"It's not about image, it's about substance," Trudeau said.

It's the kind of remark that seems destined to irritate his critics. But Trudeau doubled down, saying there's something "so many" of his political opponents miss.

"If you want to serve Canadians well with the kinds of things that they want to see for themselves, for their families, for their future, you have to listen to them," he said. "You have to get to know people."

"The more I can stay connected with people, the less I run the risk that prime ministers run of getting disconnected from the very people you're supposed to serve."

Trudeau said leadership isn't just about polls but "real conversations" about hopes and concerns.

"The more I can stay connected with people, the less I run the risk that prime ministers run of getting disconnected from the very people you're supposed to serve," he said.

A few hours later, Trudeau took to Twitter to thank Maclean's and "everyone who asked questions."

He was sure to include photos.

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