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Living Today by Roldan Sevillano Jr.

Justin Trudeau, newly elected

leader of the federal Liberal party

Justin Trudeau announces his intention to run for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership, November 2012
Justin Trudeau announces his intention to run for the Liberal Party of Canada leadership, November 2012

During an otherwise uneventful Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital, the buzz of press, staff and onlookers occupied an Ottawa hotel as forty-one-year-old Justin Trudeau was proclaimed the eighteenth leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. This April 14th announcement marked the conclusion to a five-month leadership race that began with nine candidates and finished with six. For many, Trudeau’s win was a forgone conclusion with numerous public opinion polls putting this rising star not only victorious over his leadership opponents, but also at par if not slightly ahead of Mr. Mulcair of the New Democratic Party and Mr. Harper of the Conservatives.

Even before Trudeau made his bid to run official, there was already heavy pressure on this developing MP from Montreal to throw his hat in the race and save the party from political extinction. On November 15, 2012, Trudeau registered as an official leadership candidate and the ball has not stopped rolling. Shortly after, national polls surfaced putting this Quebec MP from the smallest geographical riding in Canada to the centre of the largest political stage of the nation.

The benefit of being a frontrunner is that you are seen as the person to beat, and the increased exposure brings more opportunities to deliver your message. The downside is that you also become the primary target of criticism and attack ads. This is the nature of the beast and only those who possess the fortitude and wisdom to endure heated debates, political mudslinging and personal attacks on character will survive. Despite criticisms on Trudeau’s lack of experience, voting positions on controversial issues and claims of being entitled because of who his father was, I believe Trudeau has skilfully navigated these waters with style and swag as evidenced by the growing support he has garnered over the last five months. Having said that, it is one thing to perform well as a leadership candidate but to uphold the expectations of a leader’s office is a whole different ball game.

With the weight of the future of the LPC resting cautiously on novel shoulders, the pressure is now on for Trudeau to produce in a very real and tangible way. In my opinion, the very first role of any newly elected leader is to promote unity among the party faithful, as we all know how divisive leadership contests can be. As a Trudeau-supporting-Liberal, I am certainly excited for the future of the party but I also know how projections work and that what the polls trend today may not be what the polls trend tomorrow. It is also an understanding that the NDP and Conservatives are well-organized machines that are equally passionate in their views of how to make government work better for the country and her people. Their strategy and ability to connect with every day citizens was the Achilles heel for the Liberals in the last federal election and a Trudeau-led party will do well to recognize this.

Like his father, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who steered the federal Liberals to one minority government and three majority governments, Justin, the eldest of three brothers has approximately two years to present his case to Canadians as to another Trudeau deserves a chance in the big chair. At the end of the day, we are left with a political and somewhat theatrical cliff-hanger; will this be the start of Trudeaumania 2.0 or will the duty of breathing new life to a recovering party be too weighty for a school teacher-turned-politician to handle? (Cue dramatic music) Only time will tell.

“Be ready when opportunity comes… Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.” – Pierre E. Trudeau.

justin-3 Justin-2
Justin Trudeau with wife Sophie and children Xavier & Ella-Grace
Justin Trudeau and Kevin Lamoureux at Roldan Sevillano’s 2011 campaign launch in Tyndall Park

Roldan Sevillano is the Executive Assistant to Kevin Lamoureux, MP Winnipeg North. For questions or comments on this article, you can e-mail him at roldan@4kevin.ca

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