Handsome and young, Justin Trudeau was able to convince young Canadians that he is the right man to lead the country, only time will tell if they have been foolish to fall for his charms

 

The landslide victory of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, perhaps, surprised both Canada and Mr Trudeau himself. Mr Trudeau, the son of Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s former Prime Minister in the 1970s, was seen as the underdog early on in the race. Many wonder how Mr Trudeau, a newcomer to politics, managed to win the votes, form a majority government and become the Prime Minister-Elect of Canada.

In the Canadian federal election on the 19th of October, Mr Trudeau’s Liberal Party, centre-left, defeated the ruling Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper. As the Canadian journalist Steve Rennie has put it, the Liberals ‘didn’t just win this election … They dominated’. [1] The Liberals’ seats jumped from 34 to 184 out of 338 seats in the newly-expanded Parliament, giving them the majority mandate. In contrast, the seats for the Conservative Party slid from 159 to 99. The Liberals earned their share mostly from the New Democratic Party (NDP), a social democratic party, whose seats dwindled from 103 to 44. The Liberal dominance means the party can make all the decisions without giving in to other parties.

Despite the major victory, the Liberals did not gain unanimous support from across Canada. The Liberal wave swept from Atlantic Canada in the east towards Quebec and Ontario. Yet, it stopped in Western Canada. While the Liberals earned all 32 seats in Atlantic Provinces, including Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and over 65 per cent of seats in Quebec and Ontario, they could only win less than 40 per cent of the seats from the Conservative heartland of Western Canada. The western alienation was the legacy of Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program (NEP) in the 1980s. As the mastermind of NEP later confessed, the programme pumped oil money from Western Canada into Central Canada. [2] Even though Justin Trudeau vowed he would ‘never use western resources to try and buy eastern votes’ again, the NEP continues to bar the Liberals from winning votes in Western Canada. [3]

Unable to conquer the Conservative stronghold, the Liberals turned towards young Canadians for support and succeeded. As Toronto Star has investigated, Mr Trudeau outstripped his major rivals on the number of tweets tagged on election day. Mr Trudeau received over 150,000 tweets, more than double to that of Mr Harper and seven times to that of the NDP Candidate Thomas Mulcair. [4]

The Liberals have targeted young supporters from the outset. Through Young Liberals of Canada, the Liberals’ youth wing, they were able to cultivate loyal young supporters. The Conservatives, in contrast, have put aside the idea of revitalising their party’s youth wing since 2011, the year they won the majority mandate. [5] The Liberals have also invested in colleges across Canada. Their youth wing launched Generation Trudeau, ‘a student-run organization dedicated to empowering and mobilizing voters aged 18-24’. [6] The Liberals’ election posters were on almost every notice board in canteens and main hallways. Other parties, such as the NDP, posted almost nothing on campuses.

The Liberal Party’s policies also geared towards the youngsters’ concerns. Mr Trudeau pleaded to ‘legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana‘. [7] This drew support from many young Canadians— just like his father once did by appealing to the youngsters when he advocated abortion rights and legalisation of homosexuality. Some critics even attacked Mr Harper for his tough stance on marijuana. [8]

Moreover, the Liberals promoted Mr Trudeau’s charming appearance. Mr Trudeau did not hide his topless boxing pictures. His tattoo photos went viral on the internet. The top Google search items for Mr Trudeau include ‘wife’, ‘tattoo’ and ‘boxing’. The search items for Mr Thomas Mulcair are, on the contrary, ‘mortgage’, ‘bio’ and ‘NDP’. The Mirror, a news media in the United Kingdom, even called Mr Trudeau possibly ‘the sexiest politician in the world’. [9] Some young Canadians hope that he will rejuvenate the mundane political climate and, eventually, bring Canada a ‘sunny’ future. [10]

‘Younger Canadians … have a considerable amount of hope [in Trudeau]’, said Ian Capstick, a Public Relations specialist for Elections Canada. Mr Trudeau must keep his promises to stay in power. If not, ‘that hope may turn into disappointment if all of the promises … aren’t fully met’. [11]

Will he live up to his expectations, maintaining the support from the youth? The next federal election will tell.

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.metronews.ca/views/opinion/2015/10/19/liberals-dominate–what-now–.html

[2] http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=6045395d-1cad-4f43-812e-8b02ae9cd7b0&k=4016

[3] http://www.cp24.com/news/federal-election-2015/trudeau-speaks-to-his-father-s-unpopular-policies-at-rallies-in-alberta-quebec-1.2615739

[4] http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/10/23/justin-trudeau-got-help-from-youth-new-voters-social-media-in-election-win.html

[5] http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/little-hope-for-new-conservative-youth-wing-former-president

[6] https://www.liberal.ca/week-five-liberals-announce-historic-investments-in-public-transit-and-green-infrastructure/

[7] https://www.liberal.ca/realchange/marijuana/

[8] http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/10/16/opinion/cannabis-how-can-stephen-harper-be-so-persistently-desperately-wrong

[9] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/justin-trudeau-sexiest-politician-world-6666495

[10] http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/sunny-ways-justin-trudeau-celebrates-historic-liberal-victory-1.2617286

[11] http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canada-election-2015-trudeau-generation-x-1.3285659