Canada’s liberal champion
Ottawa—The phenomenon that is Justin Trudeau continues to soar one year after his landslide election.
On the eve of this anniversary, the Canadian prime minister’s approval rating reached 65 percent (compared with the previous Tory administration, which peaked at 42 percent), while his celebrity and policies have molded him into the new liberal standard-bearer on the world stage.
Early on in his mandate, the son of former prime minister and liberal lion Pierre Trudeau staked out deficit spending and open border policies, rejecting the divisive politics of his predecessor Stephen Harper.
The former teacher and amateur boxer has earned praise for moves like budgeting billions in spending to bolster a fragile economy, promoting feminism and handing out parkas to Syrian refugees—bucking the rise globally of the ultra-right.
His fans include United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US President Barack Obama and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. Trudeau’s impressive rise—defeating a sitting government with a third-placed party—is largely attributed to his outreach to Millennials.
He has tapped into a generational shift in values and the way people increasingly use social media to communicate, while using his famous name to his advantage.
“He has very strategically promoted his and his spouse’s celebrity, knowing that you reach a broader number of voters when you do that,” said Duff Conacher, co-founder of advocacy group Democracy Watch. “And they will continue to do that because people who don’t pay a lot of attention to politics, if they do vote, will make decisions based on who they like.”
Trudeau grew up in the spotlight under the wing of his father, who is considered the father of modern Canada.
He is comfortable jumping into crowds to glad-hand and pose for selfies. Using social media, he reaches out directly to citizens at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, the good looks of Trudeau and his family—wife Sophie, a former TV host, and their three young children—have been splashed across the pages of fashion magazines and newspapers, and even a comic book. “People are connecting with this government and its style,” said P.G. Forest, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.—APP