No doubt that Justin Trudeau will be elected as the leader of the Liberal party of Canada on Sunday, April 14.
At the leadership candidate national showcase in Toronto on April 6, Trudeau stressed his vision for diversity and federalism. He spoke of the importance of the middle class, and emphasized hope and hard work as necessary to achieve success in the next federal elections.
Canadians are being faced with an “irresistible alternative” that is “100 percent undeniably Canadian”, he said.
Despite his passion and eight long months of campaigning, the difficulties he will face will only begin after he is elected as Liberal leader. And passion alone most definitely won’t be enough to ensure the victory of the Grits.
Although being the son of the late Pierre Trudeau is a big reason behind Trudeau’s success thus far, winning the trust of Canadians will depend on a lot more than the legacy of his father.
The Liberal party has been in a slide for a decade. In the most recent federal election, the party had its worst showing in history, winning only 34 seats and capturing 19 percent of votes.
Unlike fellow Liberal leaders such as Paul Martin and Michael Ignatieff Trudeau will preside over a relatively unified party. This change in leadership will come at a time when unity among the party as a whole is much needed.
The real challenge will come after he is elected.
A big advantage for Trudeau is that after 7 years in office, the Harper Conservatives may be out of favour with the voters. In his speech, Trudeau didn’t fail to point out Stephen Harper’s well-known shortcomings. Recent polls have shown that the Conservatives are no longer a favorite amongst Canadians.
Trudeau on the other hand, ranked higher than the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Quebecois in areas such as trustworthiness, ethics, values and political vision. Most importantly, Trudeau ranked higher on a key quality that the Harper government has recently managed to jeopardize: representing Canada on the world stage.
Despite the lessened popularity of the Tories, Trudeau is facing the same nation that reduced the Liberals to third-party status in the Commons in 2011. And although the Liberals are more in line with the majority of the values of Canadians, Trudeau needs to do much more than rank highest in a poll to compensate for years of failure on the part of the Liberal party. And the Conservatives will be ready to attack as soon as he is elected.
Since his decision to run for the Liberal leadership this past fall, Trudeau has been criticized for many things, amongst them his lack of substance and experience. And the Tories won’t forget to remind Albertans of his father’s energy policy either.
Nonetheless, Canadians seem to like what they’ve seen thus far.
Trudeau seems to be the best alternative for the Liberal party. The Montreal MP’s charismatic character seems to be exactly what the Liberals need to recover from the failures of the last four elections. Canadians are looking for an inspirational leader, one that can entice change and create better opportunities for the country as a whole.
Trudeau’s potential for success is only just growing. At 41, he is an appealing character to a younger generation of Canadians who are looking for a leader they can interact with directly. What’s not so appealing to the younger generation, however, is voting.
It’s still early to tell if Trudeau can organize a campaign that is able to compete with the Conservatives. Whether the younger generation chooses to vote or not will depend heavily on Trudeau’s ability to encourage the involvement of this generation. And one of the only ways to get them involved is through direct engagement.
Young adults want to debate, interact, and raise questions. They want the freedom to challenge the ideologies of their potential leader. If Trudeau manages to directly engage with the younger generation, it is then that enthusiasm can translate into action.
Just because the majority of Canadians are no longer happy with the Tories, doesn’t necessarily mean that Trudeau and the Liberals are the best option. It does however mean that the Liberals have an opportunity to re-organize, and prove their status as the “natural governing party” of Canada.
And Trudeau didn’t pick a bad of a time to run for the leadership race either.
Despite the disadvantage of running for a party at a time where they have endured great failure, Trudeau is competing at a crucial moment in Canadian politics where Canadians are seeking change and demanding better alternatives.
And at the moment, Trudeau is in a great position to not only become the leader of the Liberal party, but to also become a huge contender for the 2015 federal elections.