As many will know, I have declared my Liberal leanings in a previous election and still find myself "in the middle" with regards to most of my viewpoints on a myriad of issues.
I realize as a journalist to declare your politics is a bit of a taboo, but as a columnist I feel comfortable in stating where I stand and was happy to hear the news this week that Liberal heir apparent MP Justin Trudeau could finally enter the race for leadership of the Grits.
But the question remains: Could he garner new interest in what has been considered a dusty, old party?
As many have seen, the political spin machine in Canada has been in overdrive with Justin Trudeau’s on-again, off-again flirtation with announcing his intentions to run for the leadership of the federal Liberal party.
The party was soundly defeated in the last federal election by a combination of strong Conservative backing and the emergence of the Orange Crush NDPers in Quebec.
The aforementioned NDP garnered phenomenal numbers in the province under a charismatic leader in the late Jack Layton. Layton found a way to connect with a younger generation of voters through a positive message of government working to solve problems and to seek solutions.
Layton had no magic formula for it, he was just Jack and people chose the NDP because of Jack, a fact I’m sure was keenly noted by the Liberals when wooing the voter friendly Trudeau.
All the policy and procedure would develop following the election but more so than ever the NDP rose to the official Opposition because of the man, not the party. Jack connected with a portion of Canada that had long been maligned in many circles for harbouring separatist ideals as opposed to nationalist beliefs.
Layton was to be the great unifier; he found this success at the expense of a dusty and old Liberal party, which for many years considered parts of Quebec to be some "bread and butter" ridings where MPs made prime ministers.
I’m sure many who took comfort in the safety of Liberalism in Quebec are hoping Trudeau can someday take the wheel after tearing a page out of Jack’s playbook.
If Trudeau commits to running, which I think is foregone conclusion he will, and he will win, he comes to a party in serious need of a reboot. The policy, the politics and the personalities have become dated.
After the dust settled from the federal election, it fell thick and it fell solely on the shoulders of the Liberal party.
It was, as a fact, a party without a home as the cataclysmic shift of the Dippers to the middle was in full gear. If Trudeau finally stands up in hopes of commanding the party, it brings an interesting new dynamic to the Liberals.
He is not a stuffed shirt spewing jargon. He has French Canadian heritage which endears him in Quebec and he bears a name that inspires a range of thoughts from warm and fuzzy to outright distain across the country — a fact which causes him to be more moderate than his father. And he exhibits an ease with existing in the spotlight and bears an appeal that by no means makes him a "seasoned" politician but a man with a willingness to grow the country.
I heard Trudeau speak in Winnipeg last fall and had a brief meeting with the MP from Papineau, and two things remained with me following that evening:
Firstly, he has a certain, rock star like quality among a crowd. He commands attention and once you have that sort of support as a politician, you could recite the phone book and people will listen.
Secondly, he was a very passionate speaker, especially with regards to issues pertinent to the youth of today. He controlled an audience and easily transitioned between French and English, a trait not lost on many voters especially in the now Orange and Green of Quebec.
If Trudeau is successful in his foreshadowed rise to becoming leader, it will have a ripple effect throughout Canada. The young leader would attract like-minded candidates with renewed optimism making ridings like the "yellow dog" riding of Brandon-Souris a bit more exciting to watch come election time.
It still leaves us to wonder could he, like his father before, inspire Trudeaumania for a generation of Canadians who only knew of it through textbooks.
In any case, as the spin picks up leading into a convention we are about to find out if Trudeaumania version 2.0 is worth the upgrade and investment for the average Canadian.
» Shaun Cameron is a lifelong Brandon resident. He has dabbled in politics and is now chair of Renaissance Brandon, the city’s downtown development corporation. His column appears regularly.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 29, 2012