Will he or won't he?
Justin Trudeau has managed to start a buzz in Canadian politics by not announcing he’s running for leader.
On Wednesday, a mere hint of an imminent campaign declaration from the Montreal MP and son of the former prime minister set off a media stampede through the corridors of Parliament, and Trudeau’s name started trending worldwide on Twitter.
The campaign is expected to become official next Tuesday at an announcement in Trudeau’s riding of Papineau — a report that Trudeau was neither confirming nor denying to the media throngs after it first surfaced in the French-language media.
Maybe he isn't as dumb as we thought.
For over a decade now the Son and Heir has been conducting a striptease worthy of Gypsy Rose Lee. The media has been mesmerized the whole time. Friends, admirers, critics and aging Trudeaumaniacs have all been wondering when the bra strap will break. So far, so unrevealing. By tweaking public interest from time to time, including the periodic disavowals, he has kept the public, or at the very least the media, interested in an otherwise uninteresting candidate.
This is no mean feat. Celebrities who are famous for being famous tend not to stay famous for very long. Yet there he is. Almost exactly a dozen years after his histrionic eulogy to Father Trudeau and the MSM is in a near fit of ecstasy at the prospect of him leading Parliament's third party. This over indulgent behaviour, I'm guessing that in old fashioned column inches he'll be running 50 to 1 against Debra Coyne, cannot simply be attributed to fawning boomer Liberals. Justin Trudeau makes good copy.
Put yourself in the position of a typical hack in the Press Gallery. Your editor wants content. Lots of content. But not just any content. You could fill Macleans, the Globe and a week's worth of National broadcasts with detailed analysis of the deliberations of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The problem is that most reporters, being human beings, are unlikely survive spending more than a few minutes covering a deputy minister's testimony on Closed Containment Salmon Aquaculture.
Talking or writing about ideas is hard, about details boring but what is always interesting is people. This is why so much of political writing, especially that coming from the Ottawa ensconced hacks, is about personality conflicts and intrigue. Unfortunately Canadian politicians don't really have personalities. They possess a rare gland that emits boredom and dullness the way a skunk emits stink and for much the same reason, self defence. If you're boring no one will notice what you're doing.
This leaves the political reporter with not much to cover. The mad tedium of the scrums. The gossip over at D'Arcy McGee's. Bitching about the weather and comparing it to Winnipeg (because all weather phenomenon in Canada must be compared to the Peg in February). If they get really desperate they can spend the better part of a year chasing a non-scandal in hopes of becoming frostbitten versions of Woodward and Bernstein. Thing is that Woodward eventually moved on to write substantive pieces of "instant" history.
In this bleak and fading landscape Justin Trudeau is a gift from the political gods. He is, aside from the Prime Minister, the only federal politicians most Canadians have heard of or are interested in. The man exerts an endless fascination in part because he is one of our few national celebrities still living in the country. I know that Bill Shatner and Kiefer Sutherland come back and visit, but it's not the same thing.
Who's left in Canada that anyone cares about? Peter Mansbridge? Please. He was replaced by CGI years ago. His salary just gets funnelled to pay for Hubert Lacroix's various junkets. If you notice closely the programmers adjust Mansbridge's hair line a few millimeters every year. The man himself is back working at Churchill Airport. We got nobody. All the interesting people are dead or in California. This is why Justin Trudeau can suck the oxygen out of a room, he has no competition.
Time waits for no man, not even the son of Pierre and Margaret. He now sits on the ugly side of forty with a resume so thin you could use it as wood varnish. The Seinfeld Candidate must now actually run a political campaign. Years ago Allan Fortheringham used to have a standing joke about how there were only 200 people in Canada and they kept running into each other at airports. It seems that about half of those people will be running Justin's campaign.
The Liberal leadership campaign will likely be a "contest" between a former astronaut, Pierre Trudeau's ex-lover and Pierre Trudeau's eldest son with much of the backroom operations conducted by Pierre Trudeau's aging cronies. The convention itself will consist of endless paeans to Pierre Trudeau while dozens of delegates wave red roses for the cameras. There is so far no proof to the rumour that Liona Boyd will be performing.
I believe the working Liberal motto is: "Looking to the Future."
If that doesn't work they can always try: "The Land is Strong."
I'm sure Warren's got some stuffed animals he hasn't used yet, just to keep things interesting.
In the rest of the world the journalistic silly season ended weeks ago. In Canada it's just about to begin.