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Trudeau Can't Coast On Youth And Charisma Alone In Next Election

05/16/2017 12:10 EDT | Updated 05/16/2017 12:37 EDT
Chris Wattie/Andrew Francis Wallace

There's a good chance Canada's next federal election could be a contest between the Conservatives' Maxime Bernier, the Liberals' Justin Trudeau and the NDP's Jagmeet Singh. (Photos: Chris Wattie/Reuters; Chris Wattie/Reuters; Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

So, Jagmeet Singh is in. The Brampton, Ont. MPP held a raucous, well-attended rally last night to announce his intention to run for the federal NDP leadership.

Singh will now give the Dippers' leadership contest what it has entirely lacked: sizzle. Interest. Charisma. Media attention.


And over on Team Blue, Mad Max Bernier still looks like the guy to beat. Tories I know say he's going to win. That may be conjecture and whatnot -- that may be based upon impressions, and not actual data -- but the conventional wisdom, presently, is the Quebec Conservative MP has got big mo.

So, how will both stack up against Trudeau? If we were to do some polling -- and if we were to conduct focus groups, from sea to sea to sea, as it were -- what would voters say are the key attributes of (a) Trudeau and then (b) Bernier and (c) Jagmeet?

Well, let's see.

Trudeau Attributes

Young and youthful

Unconventional

Not-bad-looking

Bilingual

Passionate

Idealistic

Bernier Attributes

Young and youthful

Unconventional

Not-bad-looking

Bilingual

Passionate

Idealistic

Jagmeet Attributes

Young and youthful

Unconventional

Not-bad-looking

Bilingual

Passionate

Idealistic

Hmm.

See the problem? In politics, as in commerce, you need a "unique selling proposition." That is, you need to have something -- a brand, an ingredient, a magic healing power -- that your opponents do not. You need to have something, anything, that is uniquely and indisputably yours.

Trudeau better get going on all three fronts.

I hereby and herewith, ipso facto, predict Trudeau is going to be facing off in 2018 with two guys who have the very positives that propelled Trudeau himself to power in 2015. The two angry old guys he defeated in that contest are gone, baby, gone. It's a new day, etc.

Sure, Mad Max can be a nutty libertarian -- but the prospect of power will smooth out those rough edges, I expect. (It usually does -- Agent Orange, i.e. Donald Trump, notwithstanding.) And, sure, Jagmeet wears a turban and that may be a problem in Quebec (as some ex-Layton folks have been shamefully whispering here and there) -- but, then again, progressives never do particularly well when pandering to prejudice. Didn't Trudeau, after all, have the same position on the hijab that Tom Mulcair did?

What does this all mean? Well, it means this: when leadership attributes are a wash, all that you have are (a) ideas (b) achievements and (c) ground game.

Trudeau better get going on all three fronts. There's two youthful, unconventional, handsome, bilingual, passionate and idealistic guys in his rear-view mirror.

And they're getting closer.

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