The news media announced MP Justin Trudeau’s candidacy for the Liberal Party leadership yesterday. He had to smile his way past the cameras, microphones and pencil-pushing pundits, even if he was just going to the washroom. We are told the real announcement is supposed to be next week.
Somebody will have to tell them that the news media do not select the Liberal Party’s leader. The party members and supporters do that and we have until next April to come to a conclusion. This is not a coronation the party is planning. His father had no shoo-in 44 years ago and the son does not have the credentials that his father had.
Name recognition might mean a lot for the news media but Justin can hardly run on just his family name. He must campaign for the job as Justin, not as Pierre. When Pierre Trudeau announced his candidacy back in the fall of 1967, we already knew how smart he was and he had already made his bones as Minister of Justice in Mr. Pearson’s cabinet.
Justin has yet to tell Canadians where he stands. Having a boxing match with a Conservative senator is hardly the credentials needed to warrant any support for the job of leader. While he could suggest it might help keep a future cabinet in line, it is outside the usual guidelines.
The key is where he wants to lead the Liberal Party. Leading needs policy direction and to date, we have little knowledge of his policy priorities. Just being opposed to Harper’s Conservatives does not cut it. Canada’s embattled middle class needs a champion and that requires a left of centre policy position.
That means that Justin will need to explain more than just his position vis-à-vis Stephen Harper. He is also going to have to establish his position in relation to Thomas Mulcair. He will have to be far more radical in his approach than he has previously been in the House of Commons.
Ideally Justin needs to box Mulcair into the position of a merger of the New Democrats with the Liberal Party. He will need a brain trust to help him do that.
There is no question that Justin has the charm, glibness and savvy to win the leadership. The question from the party keeps coming back to where he wants to lead it?
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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