POLITICS

Here's How Trudeau Transformed From Teacher To Prime Minister

12/21/2015 10:38 EST | Updated 12/21/2016 05:12 EST

OTTAWA — A chronology of the seminal events that marked Justin Trudeau's transformation from school teacher to prime minister:

Oct. 3, 2000: 28-year-old Justin Trudeau delivers an emotional eulogy at the state funeral for his father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Speech generates first buzz about potential political dynasty in the making, but Trudeau has no interest in following in his father's footsteps; returns to teaching job in Vancouver.

December 2006: Trudeau attends Liberal leadership convention in Montreal as a supporter of former Ontario education minister Gerard Kennedy. Discovers he enjoys schmoozing with delegates and is good at retail politics — more like his grandfather, Jimmy Sinclair, than his father, who disliked the baby-kissing aspect.

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Justin Trudeau breaks down on his father's casket after reading his eulogy in 2000. (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)

"Looking back at my transition into political life, that weekend in Montreal really mattered," Trudeau wrote in his memoir, "Common Ground."

"The experience of the convention had taught me something: I had political skills independent of my last name."

December 2006: Tells new leader Stephane Dion he'd like to run for the Liberals in a byelection in the Montreal riding of Outremont. Backs off after it becomes clear the leader and the riding association are opposed (future NDP leader Tom Mulcair would eventually win the byelection, stealing away what had been a Liberal fiefdom).

Trudeau shifts his sights to Papineau, a gritty, multicultural, working-class riding won by the Bloc Quebecois in the 2006 election. He is undeterred by the fact that neither Dion nor the party establishment are supportive.

"I didn't want a cakewalk. I wanted a serious test of my political abilities," he said in his memoir.

April 29, 2007: Wins the Papineau nomination on the first ballot, easily defeating two more experienced candidates.

Oct. 14, 2008: Trudeau narrowly defeats Bloc Quebecois incumbent Vivian Barbot, bucking the Canada-wide trend that resulted in the Liberals' worst electoral showing to that date.

May 2, 2011: Trudeau wins re-election in Papineau, increasing his margin of victory even as the Liberal party plummets into third place with just 34 seats. Leader Michael Ignatieff loses his own seat and resigns. Trudeau categorically asserts he's not interested in becoming leader.

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Former prime minister Jean Chretien meets Justin Trudeau at the 2006 Liberal leadership convention. (Photo: Tom Hanson/CP)

January 2012: Trudeau starts to reconsider his leadership aspirations after attending a party convention where he's impressed by the determination of rank-and-file Liberals to rebuild their party.

March 31, 2012: Trudeau scores a surprise win over Conservative Sen. Patrick Brazeau in a charity boxing match. Brazeau, with military training and a black belt in karate, had been the odds-on favourite. Pundits proclaim match to be a career-defining moment, proving that Trudeau has "star-power charisma and, as he showed in the fight, it’s more than pretty-boy charisma," as Globe and Mail columnist Lawrence Martin put it. Pressure to run for leader increases exponentially.

July 2012: Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, host a three-day retreat at Mont Tremblant, Que., with close friends and advisers to discuss a potential leadership bid. Trudeau decides by end of the weekend that he will run.

Oct. 2, 2012: Trudeau makes it official, launches leadership campaign in Papineau on what would have been his late brother Michel's birthday. Promises that improving the lot of Canada's struggling middle class will be his central goal.

"Looking back at my transition into political life, that weekend in Montreal really mattered."

April 14, 2013: Trudeau wins the leadership on the first ballot, with more than 80 per cent of the votes cast by more than 100,000 Liberal members and supporters. Party soars into first place in public opinion polls, where it remains for the better part of two years.

Autumn 2014: Extended honeymoon shows first signs of waning after Trudeau announces his MPs will vote in favour of controversial anti-terrorism legislation, with a promise to amend the most egregious provisions if he forms government.

February 2015: Trudeau's promise to forgo cynical politics takes a hit after he welcomes Tory defector Eve Adams into the Liberal caucus. Adams had been barred from seeking re-election as a Conservative after a nasty nomination battle, which cost her fiancee, former prime ministerial communications director Dimitri Soudas, his job as the party's executive director.

May 4, 2015: After resisting pressure to reveal detailed policy before an election, Trudeau unveils the centrepiece of the Liberal platform: more generous child benefits and an income tax cut for the middle class, paid for by a tax hike on the wealthiest one per cent.

May 5, 2015: The policy announcement is overshadowed by the NDP's come-from-behind victory in Alberta's provincial election. The stunning upset puts wind in the sails of federal New Democrats.

May 2015: The Conservatives begin bombarding the airwaves with the ubiquitous "just not ready" ad, featuring a group of supposedly ordinary folks perusing Trudeau's resume and concluding that he's too callow and inexperienced to be prime minister.

Aug. 1, 2015: Liberals launch their first campaign ad, in which Trudeau responds directly to the Tory ad: "I’ll tell you what I’m not ready for. I'm not ready to stand by as our economy slides into recession; I'm not ready to watch hardworking Canadians lose jobs and fall further behind."

Aug. 2, 2015: Prime Minister Stephen Harper launches the longest, costliest federal election campaign in Canadian history. The Liberals start the campaign in third place in opinion polls, trailing the front-running NDP and the Conservatives.

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Justin Trudeau and Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau fight during a charity boxing match. (Photo: Fred Chartrand/CP)

Aug. 6, 2015: Maclean's magazine hosts the first of five campaign debates. Tory campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke quips that Trudeau will exceed expectations "if he comes on stage with his pants on." Trudeau far surpasses the low bar the Tories had set for him, demonstrates ability to go toe-to-toe with his more experienced rivals, Harper and Mulcair. His performance keeps Liberals in the game and improves in subsequent debates. Liberals begin to inch up in the polls.

Aug. 27, 2015: Trudeau announces a Liberal government would run deficits for three years in order to double spending on infrastructure and goose the stagnant economy. The risky move allows him to outflank Mulcair — whose spending promises were constrained by his insistence on balancing the budget — and to cast himself as the only true agent of progressive change.

Sept. 15, 2015: The Federal Court of Appeal rejects the Harper government's attempt to ban a Muslim woman from covering her face with a niqab while taking the oath of citizenship. Harper promises to appeal the ruling and to introduce a law banning face coverings at citizenship ceremonies and, possibly, for front-line public servants as well.

The NDP's base of support in Quebec, where the niqab ban is most popular, starts to crumble as Mulcair defends women's right to cover their faces. Trudeau's defence is even more robust but he uses the issue to cast himself as the polar opposite of Harper and what he portrays as the Tory leader's mean, narrow-minded, divisive approach to politics.

Oct. 4, 2015: Liberals stage a massive rally in ethnically diverse Brampton, Ont., where Trudeau excoriates the Harper government for its stance on the niqab, its determination to revoke the citizenship of dual citizens convicted of terrorism and its promised crackdown on so-called barbaric cultural practices. He promises to replace the Conservatives' "small and meek and fearful" vision of Canada with one that is "open and confident and hopeful."

Video footage from the rally is used to produce a powerful final campaign ad meant to convey an inspiring, unifying leader with unstoppable momentum.

Oct. 19, 2015: Liberals surprise even their own pollster, winning a majority with 184 seats. It's the first time in Canadian history that a party has vaulted from third to first place in an election.

Nov. 4, 2015: Trudeau is sworn in as prime minister and unveils a 30-member cabinet "that looks like Canada" — half men, half women, ethnically diverse and lots of fresh faces.

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