After being asked by Jason Setnyk to offer some comment for “The Seeker” on my observations of the recent Liberal leadership contest and our new leader Justin Pierre James Trudeau I soon realized that for all that we the public know about him he is still for many of us an ”enigma.”
ENIGMA is defined as: 1: an obscure speech or writing . 2: something hard to understand or explain . 3: an inscrutable or mysterious person. www.merriam-webster.com.
I subscribe to definitions 2 in trying to explain the Justin phenomena that captured the Liberal leadership crown and then I apply definition 3 in trying to explain what it is about this young politician that sets him apart from 307 other Members of Parliament and 3 other Federal National Party leaders.
I volunteered to head up the Justin leadership committee in Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry riding as part of the Eastern Ontario team. Yes, I was pleased with the number of membership and supporters his candidacy generated for our local riding association. I was also ecstatic that of the 428 eligible voters in this riding 375 actually cast their ballots with 85.9% of the vote going to Justin.
As a long time Liberal activist there was always something special about Justin that that piqued my interest. I first met him in the late fall of 2008 with the return of Parliament after the federal election in which he won the Montreal riding of Papineau. We had one thing in common, we were both candidates in the recent election, only he was elected and I wasn’t.
But it was in listening to him that I realized we have similar interests in our motivation and desire to serve the public. There are three quotes from Justin that I think explains his raison d’etre in the most straight forward terms. The quotes are all attributed to him before he declared his candidacy for the Liberal leadership race, but I believe they also reflect what set him apart from the other candidates and attracted the support of so many Canadians.
· I’m someone who stumbles my way through, leads with my chin in some cases, leads with my heart in all cases. It leaves me way open for all sorts of criticisms left, right and centre. You know what? I was raised with pretty thick skin. And I think people are hungry for politicians who aren’t afraid to say what they think and mean it.
· Can I actually make a difference? Can I get people to believe in politics again? Can I get people to accept more complex answers to complex questions? I know I can. I know that’s what I do very well. Why am I doing this? Because I can, not because I want to. Because I must.
· I’m willing to work extremely hard. The idea that my father raised sons that expected anything to be handed to them, to not roll up their sleeves and work harder than anyone around them, is not to know my dad.
Since his election as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada on Sunday April 14th Justin has once again demonstrated that the three quotes above are indeed cornerstones of his actions in public service.
We are in for an interesting two years in the lead up to the next federal election. Will Justin be able to build on the momentum that he generated in the leadership race? Are Canadians really hungry for a fresh approach to politics? Do Canadians want to look beyond simple solutions to complex issues and realize effective change is more than a 20 second sound bite? Are Canadians ready to work with and follow a leader who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and work hard on their behalf and in their interest?
I know I am and I believe that Justin is more than capable. Sign me up once again as a volunteer for the real campaign that is already underway and that will come to a conclusion in October of 2015.