Justin Trudeau in Edmonton: dismiss this guy as a flake or a lightweight at your peril

Posted on August 20, 2014, 1:55 am
5 mins

Liberal Party of Canada Leader Justin Trudeau energized a crowd of Liberals and the curious last night in Edmonton. Below: His father, Pierre Trudeau, circa 1968; the chip off the old block.

I’m pretty sure it was in the spring of 1968 that I heard Pierre Trudeau speak in Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park. I think it was March ’68, as a matter of fact, right before the convention that made him leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister of Canada.

I can tell you this for sure, it was a beautiful day, the sun was warm, there was a nice breeze off the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the daffodils were in bloom, and the presence of the still-youngish Mr. Trudeau (he was not quite 50 and the minister of justice at that time) generated a heck of a lot of excitement.

Seems to me there were about 1,000 people there that day – the single Internet account I could find was imprecise about such details, including the exact date. The crowd was abuzz. Mr. Trudeau spoke for about half an hour. It was exciting. I can’t recall much of what he said, but it isn’t really important anyway. It was boilerplate campaign stuff.

The mood was the thing: Upbeat. Hopeful. It was memorable.

Fast forward to yesterday evening and Justin Trudeau, 42, was in Edmonton. And to my mind there were a lot of things in common with that afternoon in Victoria, lo those many years ago.

Maybe I just caught a taste of the Kool-Aid. Maybe I’m just getting old and remembering my youth through rose-coloured spectacles. But I can tell you this, it was a beautiful evening last night, the sun was warm and some marigolds or something were blooming nearby. Edmonton’s River Valley was nice, although I’m afraid it didn’t quite come up to the standards of the Juan de Fuca Strait and the Olympic Mountains.

But there were about 1,000 people there. Justin Trudeau spoke for about half an hour. People seemed to find it pretty exciting. Nowadays, of course, we have an Internet record of what he said, but it isn’t really that important anyway. It was boilerplate campaign stuff.

The mood was the thing: Upbeat. Hopeful. It was memorable.

I’m telling you people, if it hadn’t been for the boring interlude when the rally organizers tried to get their most fervent supporters to break a silly record by making phone calls to voters in other cities, a lame idea that momentarily took the wind out of the rally’s sails, the feeling was much the same.

Yes, there was more than a whiff of old-style Trudeaumania in the air, just like in ’68.

As I’ve said before, whether you’re a New Democrat or a Conservative like most of the people who run things in this province, if you think you can just blow this guy off as a flake or a lightweight you’re sadly deluded. He’s got some ideas, he’s got charisma, and so he’s got people listening to what he has to say.

There are differences: We’ve got a mean spirited, tired old government in Ottawa that has discovered from its fellow travellers in the United States how to wedge the electorate and go negative to great effect. It’s prepared to do things to stay in power that real Conservatives like Bob Stanfield or Joe Clark would never have contemplated.

The Liberals in ’68 were just renewing a franchise that had gone a little stale.

Oh, and we all have cell phones with cameras in them now.

So you can say that was then and this is now if you like.

Still, 2014 is starting to feel to me a bit like 1968. Maybe more than a bit. It sure did for a little while last night, anyway.

16 Comments to: Justin Trudeau in Edmonton: dismiss this guy as a flake or a lightweight at your peril

  1. Mary Dempster

    August 20th, 2014

    I disagree. I think Justin is so lightweight and flaky that the next year could prove to be a tumultuous period for the Liberal Party of Canada. No matter what Justin does or doesn’t do, I sincerely hope that Liberal seats are won in Alberta. More power to you.

    Reply
  2. Mary Dempster

    August 20th, 2014

    Sorry my comment was too blunt. I’m just concerned that Justin doesn’t seem to understand the subtle nuances of issues and yet he’s so quick to talk at length. The next year will be interesting in Canadian politics. I am still kind of supporting the Liberals but can’t stomach renewing my membership. Justin may improve a great deal which I’d like to see happen so please know that I’m really on your side of the fence and maybe my concerns are only shared by a few Liberals down here in Ontario where the Tories took a number of seats last time. All the best.

    Reply
  3. Anne Peterson

    August 20th, 2014

    I’ve voted NDP all my life except for when I voted CCF but I am cheering for Justin. Doesn’t look like the NDP could win, though I will vote for my present MP who is ND)P. The social democrats have never been in power federally in Canada but they have been responsible for most of the wonderful social legislation so a Trudeau lead Liberal government with an NDP opposition looks like a winner to me.

    The Horribly Inflated Sick Ego is visiting my home town Friday. It is an isolated peaceful little burg but he is bringing huge amounts of security. It is a tightly controlled event. He could spare one of his security detail to guard Sophie and kids but I bet he won’t. The picture of Justin surrounded by people in Edmonton must drive him crazier IF he is allowed to see it.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      August 20th, 2014

      Actually, most NDP-inspired social policy in Canada has occurred when the Liberals were in minority and the NDP was the third party. A Liberal minority/NDP opposition would probably not work since the latter would feel impelled to counter the Liberals on policy and legislation regardless of what they propose. This would allow the Conservatives (as third party) to appeal to the blue Liberals and hold the balance of power – not a scenario I would look forward to.

      Reply
  4. Joe

    August 20th, 2014

    This guy is both a flake and a lightweight.

    Reply
    • Tom in Ontario

      August 20th, 2014

      Prove it.

      Reply
    • pogo

      August 20th, 2014

      You sir are a non sequitur in search of a straw man! Maybe a waste of bandwidth too!1

      Back on earth… many people would vote for their pet cat before the likes of S. Harper, Baird, Kenney, and oh my god don’t get me started, Peter Mmkay. Wankers, charlatans, poltroons, grifters and useless wonders all!

      Reply
      • CuJoyYC

        August 21st, 2014

        And everyone you mentioned is a professional politician, the revulsion of which they used to begin their own professional political careers. Can you spell ironic Stevie? Name one real world, non-political job any of of those mentioned ever had—and you can add in Poilievre, Adams, Anders, Clements and more for good measure.

        I’ll take a genuine and personable, drama and math teacher Trudeau over a smug, aloof, isolated, arrogant and pompous Harper and his cabal of boys in short pants and sycophantic fellow professional politicians.

        Reply
  5. Pamela Mac Neil

    August 20th, 2014

    I think David ,most people specifically politicians that call Trudeau a flake know it’s really not true, but they have a NEED to label him as a lightweight. For Canadians who think of him this way it’s seems like an unquestioned knee jerk reaction. For the CONS it’s desperation and a need to control what Canadians judgement of what trudeau will be.Harper and his CONS are so out of touch that they really think that we are stupid enough to accept that what they say about Trudeau is the truth. Harper who only communicates with his base to the exclusion of the majority of Canadians does not know what we think. He does know that Trudeau is a huge threat to him. He does not know why though. Someone should sit him down and tell him this: you know that majority of Canadians that you ignore, well there the real Canada and they are progressives and like what Trudeau has to say. I too saw Pierre Trudeau speak in Toronto. The place was electric Interestingly I never voted for him. I will be voting for his son though.

    Reply
  6. Anne Peterson

    August 20th, 2014

    If there is a flake among us it is Harper with his crazed security and extreme control and inability to converse with ordinary Canadians. And his sacrifice of Canadian lives to his ideology of deregulation which is what has happened in Lac Megantic, and his inability to see his responsibility in the event.

    Reply
  7. Mark Wells

    August 20th, 2014

    He is a flake and a lightweight, and that won’t prevent him from winning. The Liberals’ near death experience has temporarily united them behind the hair and the name.

    Reply
    • Pamela Mac Neil

      August 21st, 2014

      Perhaps you could give us examples rather then just giving us adhominems. I’ve followed him closely because I also thought of him as being a light weight. I’ve had to revise my opinion. Read the interview with Paul Wells at MacLeans. I think your just repeating what your hearing from others. This unthinking criticism of him is getting tiresome and old.

      Reply
  8. Justin Time

    August 21st, 2014

    The Cons have done some good things like tighter immigration and security control and improved the economy at a time of horrible worldwide economics.. However our environmental business image with selling oil and our friendly persona as a kind gentle peaceful nation is in tatters. We must as Canadians steer this precious ship back to the center to retain our image and identity before we lose it. Canadians are truly yearning for this and I don’t think Mr. Harper can credibly morph into a someone who can sell that image, bit Justin Has the pedigree and drive and youth to sell that. We are Canada whether we are dippers, libs or cons we must never stray too far from our sense of being ‘Canadian’. Right now Justin is the right fit for that.

    Reply
  9. DT

    August 22nd, 2014

    I’ve often argued that, because his family name has gotten him to where he is right now (and don’t tell me that he hasn’t been utilizing his family name), it’s not unjustified to use the legacy of his father’s premiership to attack him.

    Reply
  10. Maureen

    August 3rd, 2015

    I was there that evening when Pierre Trudeau came to Beacon Hill Park. I was 13 years old and my 18 year old brother drove us and his friends down from Duncan. I sense it was summertime as I remember walking over the top of Beacon Hill in the evening. There was a large crowd. The atmosphere was really something. Young people were very enthused about Trudeau, which was great as it meant at least people got out to vote!

    Reply

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