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Justine Frangouli-Argyris

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Justinmania or Trudeaumania?

Posted: 04/04/2013 2:54 pm

Justin Pierre James Trudeau was born "prorfyrogennitus," the name bestowed upon the children of sitting Byzantine emperors who, upon seeing the light of life, were immediately vested in the regal imperial garment or purple robe.

Justin, 41, the son of legendary Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, appeared in Ottawa one chilly Christmas eve in 1971, a mere 10 months after his 51-year-old father stunned the nation by marrying Margaret Sinclair, a hippie 29 years his junior.

While growing up in the official residence at 24 Sussex Drive, a young Justin would, on the one hand, suffer the difficulty of his parents' divorce while, on the other, rejoice in the opportunity to escort his father around the world, visiting over 50 countries by the age of 13.

The eldest of three boys, he would grow up under the watchful gaze of his Dad, a strict disciplinarian who would demand the best of his sons, pushing them to excel in sport as well as in the classroom according to the ancient adage of "a healthy mind in a healthy body."

His upbringing notwithstanding, Justin did not seem destined for a career in politics from the outset. In university, he would complete degrees in literature and education before dabbling in engineering and enrolling in a Master's program in environmental geography. He would take on various odd jobs, everything from water rafting instructor to bunjee jumping coach to radio host but settle in to teach French and social studies at a high school in Vancouver.

Regardless, his personal charm and brilliance would lead his friends and family to hope that he would eventually opt to follow in the footsteps of his revered father and aspire to the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

His political calling would come, quite surprisingly, at his father's funeral, where, in October 2000, he would rise to national prominence by delivering an unforgettable eulogy in front of numerous world leaders at Montreal's Notre Dame Basilica.

As a result, he would become more and more involved with the Liberal party in the following years. In 2005, he would marry television host Sophie Grégoire with whom he would have two children and, subsequently, citing the demands of his young family, Trudeau would rebuff repeated calls to run for office.


However, in 2008, he would eventually acquiesce and prepare a bid for his party's nomination in the Liberal stronghold of Outremont, in urban Montreal. His plans were upended, however, when party leader Stéphane Dion refused to sanction his candidacy, forcing him to enter a difficult race against very experienced rivals in his father's original seat of nearby Papineau.

Easily winning on the first ballot, Justin would no longer be simply referred to as "the son of Pierre" but, rather, be henceforth identified as a serious politician in his own right. Indeed, in an election that would see his party's support plummet and the Liberals lose 18 seats, Trudeau would score a stunning victory, capturing the seat held by popular Bloc Québécois incumbent Vivien Barbot.

Difficult times would follow, the Liberals descent would accelerate and the party would fall to third place and lose its standing as Her Majesty's Official Opposition (May 2011). Conversely, Trudeau's popularity would continue to soar and, after winning re-election, rumors would begin to circulate about his Prime Ministerial potential.

His detractors dismiss him as "one born with a silver spoon in his
mouth" and a political lightweight who proposed little, if any, pieces of legislation in his four years in parliament.

He has stood by his beliefs, however, taking a hard line in favor of the controversial long-gun registry but refusing to reinstate it should he be in a position to do so. And, although an avowed federalist, he has admitted that he could accept Québec independence and the breakup of Canada should Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper move the country so far to the right, insofar as issues such as abortion and gay marriage are concerned, that it would no longer be recognizable to him.

Justin Trudeau is no rookie. He has fought through adversity from a very young age, having to deal with his parents' separation and his brother Michael's tragic death, to develop into a confident, young family man with supreme communication skills and a promising political future.

He may owe his chance at becoming Liberal boss to his last name, but there can be no denying his charisma and flamboyance, qualities sorely lacking in the party for years and in all other leadership contenders. It is no coincidence that a recent Léger Marketing poll showed the Liberals and Conservatives in a virtual tie for the lead with Trudeau at the helm.

Justin Trudeau may be an as yet unproven commodity but he has created a buzz around his "Justinmania" brand. Based on the glory days of Trudeaumania, he is on the verge of achieving a stature and profile that can lead the Liberals to a new, even more promising era than that of his father.

 

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