The Province

Trudeau can’t be ignored despite gaffes

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Every Canadian has an opinion of Justin Trudeau, whether they love or, well, don’t love him. In politics, becoming a part of the conversati­on, for better or worse, is a big part of the battle to achieve electoral success. Nothing is worse than public irrelevanc­e. Just ask federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, who is extremely bright and capable but continues not to connect with many voters.

To his supporters — ironic, given his surname — Trudeau represents something fresh on the Canadian political scene — someone who will “do” politics differentl­y.

The Liberal leader promotes this opinion of himself, noting his recent unilateral move to reform the Senate by kicking the Liberal senators out of the party caucus. “That is how you make change happen,” Trudeau told party members at last weekend’s Liberal convention.

But perhaps most importantl­y to some Canadians, Trudeau is simply the opposite of Prime Minister Stephen Harper — young, not old; playful, not dour; apparently worried about average Canadians, not oil companies.

His critics tell a different story, a story of a rich pretty boy and intellectu­al lightweigh­t who’s never been able to finish anything he’s started and certainly doesn’t have the experience to lead the country.

They point to his frequent blunders, including saying the country he most admires is communist China, or, more recently, his clanger in suggesting the Russians’ hockey loss at the Sochi Games would put them in a bad mood in dealing with unrest in Ukraine.

Trudeau says he was making a joke, but many have pointed out that there’s nothing very funny when people are being shot in the streets.

Then there is Trudeau’s key wedge issue — support for the “declining” middle class. He’s under fire for his lack of detail about what he would do for regular folks. And his position was hurt Thursday by a Statistics Canada report showing that the middle class, far from struggling, is doing great.

It’s unclear if Trudeau will ever be prime minister. But following him until the election is sure to be interestin­g.

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