09/28/2012 12:03 EDT | Updated 11/28/2012 05:12 EST

The Infallible Trudeau is a Media-Driven Myth


And so it begins.

Allow me to quote Postmedia's Michael Den Tandt's comments written on September 27:

"[Justin Trudeau] will win the leadership handily and seek to follow in his father's footsteps. It may be a lively contest; much ink will be spilled; but the outcome is not in doubt. That's because of Trudeau's name, but also his personal popularity, fluency in both official languages, youth, oratorical skills, social media following and looks. Once he's in, it's over."

The only qualifier was that it was possible that Trudeau would "self-immolate." Although this is very much a possibility, I see no reason why the bar for a Trudeau defeat is set so high. Somehow, the media have already decided that the race for the Liberal Party of Canada's leadership is over before it has even started.

One need not look any farther than the following headline offered to lead off an article that immediately followed Bob Rae's decision not to run for leader: "Bob Rae won't run for Liberal leadership as all eyes now turn to Justin Trudeau."

Does anyone remember this one? "Broadbent endorsement means NDP leadership race could be over." This headline was offered by Postmedia's Stephen Maher after NDP leadership candidate Brian Topp launched his campaign with former NDP leader Ed Broadbent's support on day one. It turns out that didn't work out too well for him.

The supposed front runner doesn't always win. Stéphane Dion pulled of the most miraculous of upsets to become federal Liberal leader in 2006. Dalton McGuinty became leader of the Ontario Liberals on the fifth ballot in 1996, despite finishing fourth on both the first and second ballots.

Justin Trudeau -- who is expected to announce his candidacy on October 2 -- has entered the race unbelievably early. It isn't set to begin officially until November and the actual vote takes place in April. That gives him lots of time to lose momentum, whether he succumbs to gaffes or not. Yet for some reason, the Canadian media left, right and centre have decided that the race will be a coronation without even having access to a comprehensive list of declared candidates.

The one issue most often cited by the media as being Trudeau's decisive advantage is his army of Twitter followers. How Twitter followers -- who may or may not support you in any way -- necessarily translate into votes on convention day has yet to be explained.

If one is to have an honest conversation with involved grassroots Liberals, one would find just as much antipathy -- if not more -- than sympathy toward a potential Trudeau leadership campaign. What the media are doing here, however, is priming future and present Liberal supporters -- who are not actively involved in the party -- toward supporting Trudeau.

And why not? A successful Trudeau candidacy is bound to generate headlines, the very business the media are in.

I have noted in the past that talk of merging the Liberal Party with the NDP is overwhelmingly media-driven. The case here is no different.

Let there be no mistake: Important elements within the media -- backed by polls based on a non-realized eventuality -- are attempting to create reality rather than report it. A 2002 poll that claimed that a Paul Martin-led Liberal Party would coast to 63 per cent support in the ensuing election should be enough to entice Liberals and non-partisan analysts alike to exercise caution.

Regardless of the spread before the Super Bowl, they still have to play the game. There's a reason for that.

The Grits need a stimulating, debate-filled, open leadership race. Such a contest would represent another important step on the road to rebuilding. Whether this race is up for grabs or not should be dependent upon the views of Liberals, not the media.