October 5, 2012

The rise of Trudeau II in Quebec politics


Obviously, the son must face and endure comparisons to his father, who, love him or not, is conceded to be one of the most powerful and gifted politicians to ever grace the frozen north.

The Liberal powers-that-be at the time recruited the enigmatic law professor and political commentator as a lethal federalist weapon against the rise of separatism in Quebec. But when he left office in 1984, Quebec was still restless, and the rest of the country was polarized and fearful. The scars in Quebec and in the west remain, and, one suspects, the son will not be allowed to forget that.

But, as Justin’s supporters will rush to say, this handsome, charismatic Trudeau is his own man, possessing the same independent thinking that stood his father well and what a once almighty Liberal party now so desperately needs.

His fans point to his readiness to fight for his convictions, to roll up his sleeves and win — twice — a strongly separatist riding in Montreal’s east end. His father, by contrast, was handed one of the safest Liberal seats in the country and never had to worry about getting dirty in the streets.

Comparisons are, in the end, useless. While it is true that the son will reap whatever positives he can from the old man’s name and reputation, surely he knows he will be facing manifold attacks for the more negative baggage of the father’s legacy.

It’s not a done deal by any means. Trudeau is the first viable candidate to officially declare. Viable is not how the only other declared candidate in the race — ready for this? —Trudeau’s stepsister’s mother, is described. Deborah Coyne, a constitutional lawyer of some renown, bore Pierre’s child when he was 71, and she 36. (The offspring, Sarah, now 21, attends college in the United States.)

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