Community Papers

Not same Trudeau-mania

I am sure that Justin Trudeau would love to slip out from the shadow of his famous father and join the carefree lost boys in Neverland just for a day.

However, instead of a fanciful world of fairies, mermaids and pirates, Trudeau, an MP (Papineau, a Montreal riding) and Liberal leader candidate has immersed himself in the very real world of politics – which may or may not include some pirates.

The almost polished politician (he’s still a work in progress) visited UNBC in Prince George Wednesday and by all accounts, was greeted warmly but not with the red-hot frenzy that quite often accompanied his father’s visits to campuses during the height of Trudeaumania.

Not quite a deju vu.

Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau visited Carleton University when I was a student there in the 1970s. I remember he could hardly get a word out at the podium before – mostly young women but also men – would be in a state of frenzy. He never basked in it. He had important things to say and he asked questions of the audience (those not in a faint).

Young people wanted a hero and they found one in P.E.T. Even those who openly disagreed with his politics I think secretly loved his antics: everything from the infamous finger and pirouette gestures to cocky comments: Fuddle Duddle, Just Watch Me.

He could do and get away with anything because he had way more charisma in his little finger – OK, his middle finger – than most of us have in our whole body.

Living in Ottawa, we had a chance to see and hear Trudeau quite regularly – not just on news reports. What many of us in our youth admired  about Mr. Trudeau as a person and a statesman, was that no one could push him around. When you’re young and you want respect, that is important. Trudeau was bold, decisive and irreverent and he could carry it off because he had the maturity and self-confidence that comes with life’s experience.

It took most of us another 20 years to get that.

Now to Justin Trudeau.

I rarely agree with whatever Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe has to say, mostly because she’s a lot smarter than I am. But last week, she put the Trudeau campaign trail into perspective. She hoped people are looking beyond Justin Trudeau’s PET pedigree and DNA to really pay attention to his words.

“Without a doubt, all eyes will be on PET’s son,” Jaffe wrote. “Let’s hope that Canadians will also be listening to what he has to say.”

Had Pierre Trudeau lived longer (or conceived his sons earlier) he may well have helped guide Justin on his political voyage.

As it is, Justin Trudeau will forge his own way. He may never be the “philosopher king” his father was, but he does have a way with words. That will take him places.

 

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