After nearly a decade of Conservative rule in Canada, the Liberal Party swept to power last night with a majority of the popular vote, reports USA Today. The victory marked a sensational political comeback for the party. Four years ago, they suffered a devastating loss in the election, winning just 34 of 308 seats. This disastrous showing demoted the Liberals to third-party status for the first time in their history.
The man who has led the Liberal Party to this remarkable renaissance, and the man who will be the next Canadian prime minister, is Justin Trudeau. The eldest son of the former Canadian prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin Trudeau is a politician that has captured the entire world’s attention and not only that of the Canadian public.
Dismissed as an inexperienced ‘pretty boy’ by opponents, Justin Trudeau was clearly underestimated by his political enemies. With film star looks and rhetorical skills to match, Trudeau has proved the rule rather than the exception – when it comes to modern politics in the modern media age, charisma is king.
But who is the man behind the face? Son of a former Prime minister, Justin Trudeau had no choice but to grow up in the public eye. Whether such conditions prove to be a burden or privilege depends on the individual, but some might say Justin Trudeau was destined for this moment.
Richard Nixon certainly thought so. When Justin Trudeau was just four months old, during a state visit to Ottawa in 1972, Nixon was already predicting great things. Addressing Trudeau Senior at a gala dinner, he said, “Tonight we’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau.” Nixon’s judgment wasn’t always reliable, and although the comment was playful, it did turn out to be prophetic.
It was another personal loss that pushed Justin Trudeau further into the pubic spotlight – his father’s passing in 2000 at the age 84. Justin Trudeau gave a eulogy delivered with poise, eloquence, and grace at a nationally televised funeral. The speech garnered wide praise and led the Canadian public and media to reflect on his potential as a statesman for the first time.
Justin Trudeau became more engaged with politics throughout the 2000s following his father’s death, but it wasn’t until 2007 that he made his first serious move and stood for public office. He won the Liberal nomination in Papineau during 2007 and became an MP in 2008. After declining to run for leadership of the Liberal party a number of times, Justin Trudeau finally threw his hat into the ring in 2012 and won the leadership election with a landslide victory in 2013.
This year’s general election was expected to be close, with polls putting Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party and Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party neck and neck, but it became apparent that Justin Trudeau’s photogenic looks and personal charm were resonating beyond the Liberal Party’s traditional support base.
Justin Trudeau attracted large, boisterous crowds in parts of the country that hadn’t been Liberal strongholds for years, such as Edmonton and Calgary, according to the National Post. The Liberal Party last won a Calgary seat in 1968. This week it won two, and overall, the Liberal Party won 184 of 338 seats, the biggest swing in seats ever for a party between elections. Canada now has the second youngest prime minister in the nation’s history and the first multi-generational prime ministerial dynasty.
[Image credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images]