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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The love affair with Justin Trudeau

Posted: 08/24/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

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Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, middle, poses for a selfie with dancers at the Israeli Folklorama Pavillion, Friday, August 15, 2014.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, middle, poses for a selfie with dancers at the Israeli Folklorama Pavillion, Friday, August 15, 2014. Photo Store

For readers who are already convinced Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada are getting more than their fair share of attention, the events of recent days and those to come will do nothing to dispel those thoughts.

National and local stories in the past week have been dominated by Trudeau. He visited Winnipeg the previous week, so he got coverage in our paper for that. On Aug. 16, his Ottawa home was broken into while his wife and kids slept, and a menacing note was left behind. The coverage dominated national stories, it prompted the question of whether Trudeau needs his own security detail.

Last week, Liberal MPs met in Edmonton for a caucus meeting, generating coverage about a Liberal push in Alberta.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have the fortune of being in government and therefore getting press simply by being the deciders. Harper's annual Arctic tour, which kicked off last week, has received lots of coverage because he is the prime minister and gets to go around announcing stuff people want.

That is not the case for Thomas Mulcair. He is neither the decider nor the young dauphin.

His main appearances in the news recently have been about a New Democrat who quit caucus and said Mulcair is too pro-Israel, and his party being chastised by the House of Commons for using parliamentary budget dollars to pay for satellite party offices in Quebec. The latter is a story that tarnishes the image the NDP have long tried to project as a party not tainted by the same kind of questionable operating tactics as the others.

His visit to British Columbia last week generated little attention on a national scale. Meanwhile, Trudeau's name was in a headline (or two, or three) in pretty much every major newspaper in Canada during his party's caucus meeting in Edmonton.

A recent story in the Globe and Mail had some NDP insiders bemoaning the coverage Trudeau gets and complaining that as the official Opposition, their party should automatically get second billing in every media story.

Now they face the possibility the third-place guy is going to get his own RCMP security detail and their guy is, well, not really needing a security detail.

Whether Trudeau and his family receive protection should not be fodder for political debate, but one can hardly blame the NDP for bristling at the idea since it is just one more indication their guy is simply not as big a star as Justin Trudeau.

Mulcair is a great politician. He can glad hand on the streets with the best of them. When he wants to be, he can be warm and charming. His ability to prosecute the government in question period is second to none.

But what gets more attention in the public? Question period, or a politician practically juggling an infant during a parade?

What will generate more votes? A politician who strolls through pavilions, smiling and posing for selfies with every Tom, Dick and grandmother waiting, or a politician who complains he doesn't get a private tour of a flood zone during a major natural disaster?

Fair or not, Trudeau and his team have found a formula that gets attention in the social media dominated, 24-hour, play-by-play news cycle we live in.

Yes, it is helped along by a news corps that leaps eagerly at handsome, shiny baubles. Yes, it is aided by the fact a lot of Canadians loved Pierre Trudeau and have a je-ne-sais-quoi crush on his son. And yes, it is annoying when personality trumps policy.

But we have a chicken and egg situation here -- the media covers the Trudeau circus because the public eats it up, and the public eats it up because the media is covering the Trudeau circus. And around and around we go.

 

The Capital Chronicles with Mia Rabson appears on the Winnipeg Free Press website at http://wfp.to/ObV.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2014 A10

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