May 30, 2015


Mr. Trudeau certainly can draw a crowd

It is easy to see why Canadians of all political stripes are interested in, even drawn to, Justin Trudeau. He is young, energetic, photogenic and confident. How confident? Experienced Liberal strategists, he told the Free Press editorial board Wednesday, had warned him not to campaign in two Manitoba byelections "because you're going to wear it when we lose." He responded by saying he would campaign here because he wants to win.

That optimism and respect for the electorate attract a lot of people, including former Brandon mayor, Conservative MLA and MP Rick Borotsik. It doesn't hurt that Trudeau has political provenance and a megawatt smile. That and the fact he wants to legalize marijuana, which shows a more refreshing openness to the issue than just about every other politician who's been in position to become prime minister.




He's cagey. He supports, for example, safe transportation of oil by rail to Churchill... if people potentially affected agree. He believes in developing oilsands... in an environmentally sustainable way, but doesn't see a market to support more oil refining in Canada.

But he is also a classic politician, giving frustratingly few details on how he would run the country -- other than differently. First Nations would get more money for education, but how to reform schools and their governance? He's going to leave that, largely, to First Nations leadership, whom he believes are smart and anxious for change, too. He would attract more foreign investment to Canada. How? He's not sure, but unlike the Harper government, he would bring clarity to foreign investment rules and make sure the world knows Canada is open for business. He is big on helping the middle class -- making sure it has more money left in the pocket -- but how?

Mr. Trudeau knows how to attract attention. The test of leadership will involve finding something more to say than telling Canadians how he will not run the country.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 10, 2013 A14

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