JUSTIN TRUDEAU: vows change, hope as Canada PM

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau waves during a campaign rally in North Vancouver, British Columbia, October 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and we do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. If after sampling our work you wish to support us, please visit our Subscribe page to chip in at least .27 for one story or $1 for a day site pass. Above, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau waves during a campaign rally in North Vancouver, British Columbia, October 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

By Leah Schnurr
October 19, 2015

Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau greets his sons Justin (L), Sacha (R) and Michel after returning home from a foreign trip in Ottawa, in a 1983 file photo. Canada's new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is moving back to the house where he grew up. The Liberal leader, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, led his party to victory in a federal election on Monday, defeating Stephen Harper's Conservatives by a wide margin. REUTERS/Andy Clark

Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau greets his sons Justin (L), Sacha (R) and Michel after returning home from a foreign trip in Ottawa, in a 1983 file photo. Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is moving back to the house where he grew up. The Liberal leader, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, led his party to victory in a federal election on Monday, defeating Stephen Harper’s Conservatives by a wide margin. REUTERS/Andy Clark

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is moving back to the house where he grew up.

The Liberal leader, son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, led his party to victory in a federal election on Monday, defeating Stephen Harper’s Conservatives by a wide margin.

While the final vote count was not yet complete, Trudeau’s Liberals were on track to win 174 of Parliament’s 338 seats, according to Elections Canada.

That means Trudeau is on track to break the record for the biggest gain in seats in an election, which was previously held by the Conservatives, who added 111 seats in the 1984 election. It is the largest percentage increase in seats ever gained by a party in an election.

The stunning win returns Trudeau, 43, to the prime minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive where he lived for almost 12 years while his father was in office.

Trudeau, who took over a party in shambles in 2013, trailed early in the campaign, brushed off by his opponents as being more style than substance and an intellectual lightweight who was not ready for the job.

But a bold pledge to run a budget deficit and boost spending to spur the economy, as well as a positive message and his gregarious nature, helped the Liberals engineer a turnaround.

The telegenic Trudeau has often drawn large crowds and elicited comparisons to the Kennedy dynasty and the Obama campaigns.

He was born to great publicity on Christmas Day 1971 and stayed in the limelight until his father left office in 1984. He returned to prominence with a moving eulogy at his father’s 2000 funeral.

Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, rests his head on his father's casket during a state funeral in Montreal, in an October 3, 2000 file photo. Trudeau died September 28, 2000 at the age of 80. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files

Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, rests his head on his father’s casket during a state funeral in Montreal, in an October 3, 2000 file photo. Trudeau died September 28, 2000 at the age of 80. REUTERS/Shaun Best/Files

“Dealing with being my father’s son isn’t something that I suddenly had to get my mind around as I showed up in this place as an MP (member of Parliament) … it’s been something that’s been with me all my life,” he told Reuters in a January interview. “It’s what I put out there that actually matters.”

Justin Trudeau is embraced by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Justin Trudeau is embraced by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A former teacher and snowboard instructor, Trudeau was first elected as an MP in 2008. He won again in 2011, but the Liberal party suffered its worst election showing ever. After the party leader resigned, Trudeau’s name began to be floated around as the next chief.

Trudeau, who has three children, initially said he was undecided due to his young family but eventually reconsidered and won the leadership election by a wide margin.

Support for the Liberals surged after his win but that goodwill had evaporated by the time the election got underway in August.

The tone was set by an early Conservative attack ad that claimed Trudeau wasn’t ready to be the country’s next prime minister and took aim at his looks with the comment, “Nice hair, though.”

“What Trudeau did was surprise the field, and he stiffened the spine of a lot of liberals who were wavering,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist at the University of Toronto.

Trudeau also touted a path for Canada that he said was more ambitious than his opponents’. His slogan “Real Change” echoes Barack Obama’s successful “Hope and Change,” and Trudeau admires how, in his view, Obama transformed grassroots democracy.

Trudeau’s short political career has not been without its gaffes.

Critics say Trudeau’s comments and headline-grabbing events, such as challenging a Conservative senator to a televised boxing match and winning in 2012, lack gravitas. After Canada joined the coalition against Islamic State, he said humanitarian aid was better than “trying to whip out our (fighter jets) and show them how big they are”.

While his rise in politics may appear to have been swift, former interim Liberal party leader Bob Rae said Trudeau has been thinking about it much longer.

“From the time I met him, my sense was that he very much saw this as a long game for him. And one that only had one conclusion.”

($1 = 1.2930 Canadian dollars)

Copyright Reuters 2015

(Editing by Amran Abocar and Alan Crosby)

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is accompanied by his mother, wife and children as he watches results at his election night headquarters in MontrealCanada's New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair sits with family members as he watches election results at a hotel in MontrealLiberal Party supporters kiss as they celebrate while watching results during Canada's federal election in MontrealConservative Party supporters react as they watch results of Canada's federal election in CalgaryFile photo of Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, rests his head on his father's casket during a state funeral in MontrealFile photo of Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau greeting his sons Justin, Sacha and Michel after returning home from a foreign trip in OttawaLeader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Trudeau poses before he spars at the Paul Brown Boxfit boxing gym in TorontoLiberal leader Justin Trudeau is embraced by his Wife Sophie Gregoire as he watches results at his election night headquarters in MontrealLiberal leader Trudeau attends a rally with former Prime Minister Chretien in HamiltonLiberal leader Trudeau carries his son Hadrien as he enters the polling station to cast his vote in MontrealLiberal leader Trudeau waves during a campaign rally in North VancouverCanada's PM and Conservative leader Harper casts his ballot at a polling station in CalgaryLiberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in MontrealLiberal Party leader Justin Trudeau gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in MontrealCanada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks off the stage after giving his concession speech following Canada's federal election in CalgaryLiberal Party leader Justin Trudeau waves while accompanied by his wife Sophie Gregoire as he gives his victory speech after Canada's federal election in MontrealA Conservative Party supporter reacts as she watches results of Canada's federal election in CalgaryConservative Party supporters react as they watch results of Canada's federal election in Calgary

 

Related stories on F&O:

~~~

Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and we do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. Please visit our Subscribe page to chip in at least .27 for one story or $1 for a day site pass. Please tell others about us, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.