CANADIAN PM JUSTIN TRUDEAU’S MEMOIR COMMON GROUND ADDS DEPTH AND CONTEXT TO THE WORLD’S MOST PHOTOGENIC WORLD LEADER.
Justin Trudeau and three new releases
Released a year before he became the 23rd Canadian Prime Minister in November 2015, Justin Trudeau’s memoir-manifesto Common Ground is being re-released in Australia in March to capitalise, presumably, on international interest in the political leader with the matinee idol looks.
The son of one of Canada’s most famous Prime Ministers, Pierre, who led the country for more than a decade, 45-year-old Justin has made a similarly dynamic start to his time in office via a progressive embrace of migrants, LGBTQ people, environmental protection and various other social policies.
The election of Donald Trump as President of Canada’s larger neighbour to the south has suddenly thrown Trudeau’s leadership into stark contrast – younger, smilier, more progressive, more open – which makes him an even more fascinating figure for political junkies.
Common Ground served not only to define his beliefs and principles as he prepared for the possibility of the top job, but also as a “getto-know” exercise for the Canadian people. Trudeau had worked primarily as a teacher in Vancouver, as well as studying and working for environmental causes, before he entered Federal politics in 2008. Canadians knew him from the eulogy he’d delivered at this father’s funeral in 2000, but not well.
Common Ground let them in, with Trudeau recalling his days growing up in privileged surroundings with a security detail, being the son of a Prime Minister. He talks candidly and honestly about his mother Margaret’s bipolar disease, considered a contributing factor in her divorce from his father Pierre, and the skiiing death of his then 23-yearold younger brother Michel, whose body was never found. He reveals his father was “never the same” after Michel’s death.
Trudeau’s victory in the 2015 election was as much a triumph of his personal appeal (and name recognition) amongst Canadians as anything. In winning, he had taken the country’s Liberal Party from a distant third in opinion pollls, holding 36 seats in the old Parliament, to 184 seats in the new Parliament – the largest numerical turnaround by a political party in Canadian history.
In Common Ground Trudeau reveals that before he decided to run for the party leadership in 2013, he had a meeting with senior party figures and advisers where he put into effect the leadership style he’d learnt while travelling with his father on official visits as a child.
“The most valuable part of these trips with my father was the chance to watch how he made decisions. He was always asking questions and challenging people around him about their opinions.
“Any decision made by my father was the result of a process that had involved many voices, and which sometimes had taken weeks or months...”
The combination of personal anecdotes, private photos and the political beliefs from one of the world’s most watchable young leaders makes Common Ground an engrossing read, whether you have any interest in Canadian domestic politics or not.