Justin Trudeau and I have been texting in recent weeks concerning his visit to our city and also the importance of his decision to run for the Liberal leadership on the premise that it's time for the next generation to not only believe in serving their country once again but also in leading it.
Justin and I sat together in the House of Commons for a couple of years, enjoying similar positions on policies and the need to get Generation Xers and Yers in the game. Yet during those months we watched as the government continued to promote negative ads ad nauseam on opposition leaders. I spoke with many Conservative MPs at the time about how I thought such ads were demeaning, but their answer was always the same: "They work, don't they?"
Well, perhaps they need to be more cautious when it comes to Justin Trudeau. Even today as I write these words, government attack ads have come out against the NDP leader -- it's the same old, same old. There is a difference with the Justin Trudeau, however. Some regard his youth as a disadvantage, yet it might very well prove the Achilles' Heel for the Conservative government and the Harper oppressive legions.
Canadians are growing weary, not only of politics, but the incessant negativity that seems to come with everything to do with Ottawa. It has worked in the Conservative's favour specifically because it turned people away from the ballot box. But times are changing and politics will have to transform along with them. "Transformation" is the operative word, for if politics is to have any meaning in Canada again, it will have to become something far different from what it is now.
Which is where Justin Trudeau comes in. His attempts to inspire the next generation of leaders into the democratic domain should be supported regardless of what political stripe we are from. To date, all the traditional parties have provided lackluster performances when it comes to attracting the young -- one of the key reasons why politics needs to change if democracy is to adapt.
So here's some counsel to the Harper minions: Don't undertake your historic practice of negative ads against Trudeau. Election time is fine (everybody does it), but in this space between mandates, permit the next generation to continue moving forward into the political spectrum.
Should you practice your usual and fill the Canadian airwaves with vitriol among a younger politician seeking to make a difference, you will likely turn off the next generation altogether. Should you prove willing to do so in order to squeak out one more mandate, you will have achieved it on the wreckage of lost ideals and the misgivings of Canadian youth. Don't take on the next generation with American practices of negativity, lest we lose the young altogether and Canadian democracy takes a bare cupboard into the future.
Taking Justin Trudeau on in the realm of policy is fair game; burning bridges to the next generation is not only foolhardy, but democratically illegitimate. This is not only about political power but about the democratic health we take into the world of tomorrow.
Unlike any other leader at present, Justin Trudeau, whether he is successful in his quest for Liberal leadership or not, has the ability to help the Canadian democratic franchise get its groove back with younger generations.
For too long politics has remained an old man's sport instead of a young person's dream. To the Conservative government I can only request that you don't mess up on this one. The future belongs to youthful optimism, not to skeptical voter suppression. Negative ads on one of their own generation will only confirm that a once inspiring nation has lost it way.