My congratulations to Justin Trudeau. My condolences to the Liberal Party of Canada. With Marc Garneau's recent withdrawal from the race for the party leadership, the "battle" is all but won for the Terrible Thing from Papineau.
Yes, there is still Martha Hall Findlay, and Joyce Murray is somewhere there, too. I hear there are another four candidates vying for the top job under the red tent, but recent medical reports suggest they might be suffering from delusions of political grandeur.
Everyone knows, come April, the leader of a party in dire straits, a broken-down party -- which is in desperate need of rebuilding its relationship with Canadians -- will be Justin Trudeau.
We all knew this from the start. But Marc Garneau offered a glimmer of hope for the optimists amongst us who wished to see a Liberal who might give the Conservatives a run for their money in 2015. As Jonathan Kay noted in his column yesterday, the once-astronaut, the once-president of the Canadian Space Agency, the once-naval captain, and physics engineer was a policy junkie's wet dream.
Garneau knew he could not win on flash -- he had none. So instead, he threw himself whole-heartedly in dealing with issues, economic and social, which affect us every day in the hopes that Canadian voters might think to themselves, "Hey, this guy might look like my father, but he's got some great ideas."
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For one, he sought to fight the telecommunication companies; you know, those service providers that gouge you month after month for your insurmountably high cell phone bill. He wanted to open the doors to the competition, and let you -- yes, you! -- the customer get a better deal for your money. Garneau knew he could not tempt the female vote with brunette curls, so instead, he announced policies that would seek to minimize, if not completely abolish, the pay gap between genders (81 cents for every dollar a man earns). Furthermore, the MP from Westmount sought to create a woman's council to advise him on certain issues. This may sound like political hogwash, but I should think it is a somewhat more proactive way to deal with gender matters than to pose for photographs with fangirls.
Marc Garneau, November 2012 to March 2013, sought policies that would help curb youth unemployment by offering incentives to companies to hire young people. If there's one thing retarding the progress of my generation, it's students with bachelor degrees who are forced to brew coffee for a living. For immigrants, he came up with the idea of devising a loan system in which foreigners might turn their credentials into recognized ones in Canada. He sought to cut payroll tax for small businesses, as well as abolish taxes on capital gains for investments in start-ups so that companies such as Blackberry needn't be this country's sole claim to fame in the realm of technology (and what a pitiful claim).
But naturally, none of this was as attractive to the Liberal voter as, say, a man of 41 who can throw a right-hook. Think about this for a second. Liberals placed the future of their party in the hands of a once-drama teacher who can rile up a crowd (but not enough, clearly, to ensure that they register to vote!) instead of a man who, over the course of his 64 years, proved himself time and time again in various fields and who, if he met presidents and leaders of state, got to that point due to his personal accomplishments, as opposed to being the plus-one of a prime minister in life and in death.
But what the insistence of Trudeau's supporters has ensured is that, come 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada will not be the party in power. Garneau was the candidate who could have swayed lukewarm Conservatives to the red camp, but Trudeau is a man who forces voters to say, as a friend of mine did, "This might be the first time I find myself voting blue. I never thought I'd see the day."
We can envision the attack ads already: "Do you want an untested man leading the country?" "Would you really put your nation's future in the hands of a man who has no callouses? A man to whom everything was given, if not by his father, then by friends of his father?" "Are you sure you want those brown locks of social media to stand alongside the world leaders during the next G8?" "Will Trudeau share plan for foreign policy with the President of the United States, or just ask him to follow him on Twitter?"
Answer me this, does any Canadian want to hear from a cherub face that his country will go to war? Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it is one that will be stuck in the backs of Canadians' minds when they go to the ballots. Trudeau may exude attractiveness, but his is the type you might find intriguing at the bar, not when it comes to making serious political decisions. And at this point, the last thing Canadians want is an experienced leader heading a broken party. A leader, I'm forced to mentioned, which has yet to give Canadians a reason to say "No" to the Boys in Blue next election -- besides a smile, of course.
I have quite a few Trudeau supporters on my social media streams -- and yes, before you ask, they're quite politically-minded -- yet, I cannot remember a single instance in which one of them posted something about Trudeau other than a picture of him standing alongside the MP. Go on, ask one of your Trudeau-supporting neighbors exactly what it is about the man that makes him fit to lead this country. As I've noted in a previous piece, the Terrible Thing from Papineau is unable to answer the question himself, so maybe one of his diehard followers might be better suited.
But what truly makes Garneau's withdrawal and Trudeau's win by default so heart-wrenching is that it is a testament to the Liberals of my generation. Time and time again, millenials have been given the opportunity to make a name for themselves, to shove their stake in the soil of political history. There was Occupy, which turned into a wasted effort, an ideological abortion, which did nothing but turn parks into landfills and drive up Twitter traffic. There were the protests in Quebec which were squabbles over meagre tuition rises which ended with a quasi-fascistic minority government taking over the reins of the province. And now, there was an opportunity for millenials to help create a new Canada in 2015. They could have supported the quiet, steadfast, solid candidate who might not have been flashy, but would have shown the world that we can be a mature group that votes with its head, as opposed to a "Like" button. But to consider concrete policies would have been too complex. So instead, the millenials placed their bet with Trudeau, the archetypal politician who says nothing of value, but, God, he says it oh-so-well, and it feels so good to listen to him communicate about the importance of communication.
Garneau's receding into the political background should be the shame of Liberal voters everywhere. After all, they know full well their party must undergo a serious period of rebuilding its relationship with Canadians. Garneau had the acumen, skills, and -- most importantly --policies to do this; Trudeau has but the experience of seeing his name in lights. If this piece sounds like a eulogy, it's because it is; but not for Marc Garneau, but rather, for the prospect of the Liberals' brighter future in 2015.
Follow Daniel Alexandre Portoraro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dportoraro