Liberals Need More Than Trudeau
Rex Murphy says Justin Trudeau is a lock for the Liberal leadership, but they’ll need more than that.
Read a transcript of this Rex Murphy episode.
One person sought the easy way out --- Chris Hadfield was securely off planet when the Liberal leadership candidates - that would be Justin Trudeau and all those other people some of whom you may even recognize - held their first "debate." Wasn't really a debate, as the leadership is not really a contest.
I expect that gathering as more of a way to remind Canadians that there was a Liberal leadership - for this game is so lopsided, so absolutely weighted in favour of the name player - on the celebrity scale Trudeau's a Maserati in a pack of Volkswagens - that no one believes it's a contest.
Can anyone honestly visualize a convention where the Liberal party refused to pick Pierre Trudeau's son and political heir as their champion and leader?
The "ecology" of the Liberal party could not sustain the rejection of Justin Trudeau, the rebuke of his fame, the dismissal of those Legions of Justin-a-maniacs on Twitter and elsewhere. It would implode.
Justin Trudeau is simply "too large" in the glitzy, camera-devouring, facebook-oriented, social media buzz kind of way for the Liberal party - on any grounds short of personal collapse or unimaginable scandal - to choose anyone else. The leadership contest is therefore, theatre --- a fixed parade to a determined end.
So this is part one: The Liberals know they cannot afford NOT to choose him…so what does he do when actually he wins?
Everyone seems to think he'll launch right out at the Prime Minister - that he'll go head to head with the "demon" Stephen Harper. That's a flattering expectation - but it's wrong. The days that the Liberals had Centre stage by right is over.
There's another person in the game, who very wisely in my judgement, has been playing things calmly and low key up to this point - call him the anti-Trudeau.
He avoids the "attack of the day syndrome" others in his spot have so learned to love. He speaks, it seems, only when he chooses to; not to spark a headline.
He didn't waltz into Theresa Spence's dubious hunger strike. He's the Leader of the Opposition, he owns a huge Quebec caucus, he's disciplined - perhaps he's willing to let Trudeau shine for a while because he's not impressed with "shine."
Thomas Mulcair has given coherence to - or at the very least kept out of mischief – all those freshman MP’s from Quebec. He has impressively succeeded a leader who was nearly venerated. Quite a feat.
The thought that electing a lightly charismatic leader is enough to repair the gutting the Liberal party has suffered in the last five years, its near total deconstruction, is an empty one.
Even with Justin Trudeau, the Liberals will be nowhere near the NDP, and in pure leadership terms - in what serious way can Justin Trudeau claim to be deeply superior to Thomas Mulcair?
There are no quick fixes for the Liberal party anymore.
For the National, I'm Rex Murphy.