Like father like son
How to get the youth vote and look good doing it
By Adam Tatelman, Staff Writer
On the campaign trail, public persona is everything. You have to get people to like you, or you’ll never be elected. Pierre Trudeau, four-time prime minister of Canada, had one of the most effective public personas in the history of Canadian politics. He dominated popular media from 1968 to 1984, reinvigorating politician celebrity worship with his passionate talking points, controversial politics, and (then) good looks. It is easy to see that current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s presentation is very similar to his late father’s, and his platform just as polarizing.
Before you open your mouth, you need an audience. Both Trudeaus knew that they stood to gain the most by courting the youth vote. Pierre designed his campaign to appeal to the counter-culture, inspiring a large following of young fans. He was particularly popular with women, and there are many recorded instances of him stopping in the street to be photographed with his supporters. At the time, 48 years old was pretty young to be a candidate for PM, so he succeeded in making himself the cool young hotshot all the kids loved. This cultural obsession came to be known as “Trudeaumania.”
Justin has clearly emulated his father’s methods. He’s taken celebrity worship to a whole new level. While Pierre was the first prime minister to parade around with his wife like English royalty, Justin was the first to appear on the cover of Vogue magazine. Justin has cultivated an irreverent and witty public persona, gaining great public support from moments like the public transit interview or the famous “because it’s 2015” argument. This impassioned rhetoric helped him to overthrow a conservative government with a landslide majority—just like dear old dad did.
In keeping with the popular counter-culture issues of the time, Pierre legalized homosexuality and reduced the voting age from 21 to 19. He was also an outspoken social advocate. In legislating the Official Languages Act, he made Canada a bilingual country by law. In addition, he was responsible for creating the modern welfare system as we know it, and for passing the Immigration Act of 1976, which allowed a greater variety of immigrants and refugees into the country. Because of these policies, Pierre is often called “the Father of modern Canada.”
Justin has taken a similar stance on the same issues, advocating for 50/50 gender representation in the cabinet and promising to legalize marijuana use. He has also pledged to house 25,000 Syrian refugees, as well as providing monthly stipends to them. His most popular promise, which figured prominently in his election, is his proposition to raise taxes for the upper class and reduce taxes on the working class.
Though their shared social policies are noble and idealistic, Pierre was a reckless spender. His tenure ended with Canada mired in the deepest recession seen since the end of World War II. It took 30 years and three prime ministers to restore Canada’s economy and credit rating. Justin’s policies and promises, such as massive deficit-funded infrastructure spending, suggest that he will spend just as much as his father, if not more. As the current Canadian economy weakens and the dollar reaches historic lows, it appears Justin will follow closely in his father’s footsteps.
Not your dad’s prime minister
Justin Trudeau combines upbringing and originality in federal government
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Justin Trudeau has been compared to his father his entire life. As the first child of Pierre Trudeau, Justin had always been an object of media attention and jokingly labeled as a future prime minister. Fast-forward to 2007 when Justin entered the federal political sphere—critics would not take him seriously as a politician, but rather labeled him a man capitalizing on his last name. This attitude continues today, even after being elected as Prime Minister.
I am not saying that Justin has never been influenced by Pierre. Yet consider this: it is uncommon to come across a person who has not had their values and personality influenced by their parents. Consider also the areas that have influenced Justin aside from his father. Justin has a deep appreciation for contemporary arts while his father was much more of a traditionalist. Justin opted to teach, while his father opted for law. Justin is not a copycat of his father, but rather a regular guy who has been influenced from many areas of his life.
Sure, Justin may share many of the same political views that his father has. Justin also shares some of the same views as Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien. Want to know why? All of these politicians have been a Liberal Party prime minister. These political strategies are not exclusive to the Trudeau last name.
Granted, there are some distinct similarities in both Trudeau governments, like government-by-cabinet, an emphasis on the Constitution, and multiculturalism. These are also political strategies that Justin has been surrounded by since he was a child. Do we really want to throw those values aside for the purpose of proving a point?
On another note, Justin has some differing strategies from his father.
Take Aboriginal issues, for example. During Pierre’s government, he had attempted to further assimilate the aboriginal population with the failed introduction of the White Paper in 1969. The White Paper would have taken away the aboriginal peoples’ distinct status, an entity that the population had come to rely on throughout post-settlement Canadian history. The paper resulted in a major backlash for the government and eventually led to the Supreme Court deciding that aboriginals are entitled to the status. Meanwhile, Justin and his government have openly embraced aboriginal culture through recognition of traditional land claims, incorporation of aboriginal culture at public ceremonies, and the start of a nationwide inquiry into the cases of missing and murdered indigenous women.
Some other political stances unique to Justin include the legalizing of marijuana, improving transgender rights, and reducing student debt burden.
Anyway, how do you really compare administrations that have taken place 30–45 years apart? The values of 1968 are not the same as the values in 2016. Really controversial issues in the Pierre’s administration (such as the legality of same-sex relationships, capital punishment, divorce, and abortion) are issues that are mostly accepted in the present day.
To say that Justin Trudeau is a carbon copy of Pierre Trudeau feigns ignorance of the history of the Liberal Party, individual development, and contemporary social values. Sharing a last name and DNA is not synonymous with being a copycat.