Opinion

Trudeau product of media celebrity hype machine

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau is widely expected to take the helm of the Liberal Party of Canada at the leadership vote next April, and by a wide margin.

This has Liberal supporters across the country salivating at the prospect of the former Prime Minister’s son reinvigorating what was once referred to as Canada’s “natural governing party” and returning it to power after a decade in the wilderness.

And recent polls have fuelled this excitement, showing the Liberals would receive a big boost in support under young Trudeau’s leadership.

For many of us, all the hysteria surrounding this Montreal schoolteacher with only a few years of experience in Parliament makes very little sense.

What has he done to deserve such attention?

Since announcing his leadership bid in October, Mr. Trudeau has offered little in the way of policy.

No vision for addressing the major social, economic and environmental problems confronting our society.

Just worn out old platitudes, one after another.

How would Mr. Trudeau stop the squeezing of the middle class and reduce growing income inequality? By pursuing “pro-growth policies” and “actively seek[ing] to broaden the positive effects of economic growth.”

How would he improve our post-secondary education system? By taking a “more inclusive approach.”

How would he support job creation? Through “innovation and productivity growth.”

As you can see, there is no shortage of rhetoric with Mr. Trudeau, but when it comes to any concrete solutions to the country’s most pressing problems, he is remarkably light on specifics, preferring to spout the same old motherhood statements we have heard so many times before.

And that is not what we should expect from a man presenting himself as a future leader of one of the world’s most advanced economies.

But let’s be clear. The Canadian media can take much of the credit for Trudeau’s growing popularity, treating him like a celebrity and fawning over his every move.

All the major newspapers have run one story after another concentrating on the Montreal MP’s style, likability, good looks, youthfulness, etc.

Apparently these are important traits when running for the leadership of a major political party.

In a functioning democratic society, leadership hopefuls would not be judged on their charisma or family lineage. Rather, they would be assessed on their past record in office, their specific policy proposals and their vision for governing.

Sadly, many of our major media outlets have dropped the ball on this one, zeroing in on Trudeau’s celebrity qualities, and turning what could have been a meaningful discussion of policy into a farce.

“People are not just going to vote for flash,” Trudeau was recently quoted saying to reporters in Quebec. “They are going to vote for substance.”

If this is true, then the Liberal Party of Canada may be in trouble.

Rob Douglas writes monthly for the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial. He can be reached at douglas.robert.g@gmail.com

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