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|Written by Kendall R. Giberson|
|Saturday, 29 November 2008 19:00|
In the halls of government, certain names tend to stand out. Particularly in monarchies, family dynasties such as the Tudors of Britain, Bourbons of France, Romanovs of Russia and Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary became so entrenched that they developed an almost mythical status. In democracies, families do not enjoy quite the stranglehold on top offices, but certain names sometimes gain an iconic status to such a degree that carrying such a name guarantees strong electoral support among the voters – a phenomenon satirized in the Eddie Murphy movie The Distinguished Gentleman.
In American history, the names Adams, Roosevelt and Rockefeller are among the best-known families whose political influence rival that of European nobility. Also, until the last American election, a Bush or a Clinton has held one of the top two posts in the country since 1981. However, no family quite tops the Kennedy clan of Massachusetts, as several of its immediate and extended members (including Arnold Schwarzenegger) seem destined to hold political office at some point in their lives.
In Canada, we too have political families but not very many who have attained the iconic status of those in the U.S. Political families in Canada have a tendency to enjoy more regional or local dynasties, such as the name Manning (Ernest and Preston) in Alberta, Lewis (David and Stephen) in Ontario, Copps (Victor and Sheila) in Hamilton, McGuinty (Dalton and David) and Dewar (Marion and Paul) in Ottawa, MacKay (Elmer and Peter) in New Glasgow, Ghiz (Joe and Robert) in Prince Edward Island and Johnson (Daniel Sr., Daniel Jr. and Pierre-Marc) in Quebec, to name but a few. Aside from the British Royal Family, though, we have yet to have a political family that has achieved iconic status across the entire country.
The one chance that Canada has of developing a clan to rival the influence of the American Kennedys is personified in the recent election of Justin Trudeau to Parliament. No name in Canadian politics evokes such a mixed variety of strong emotions and imagery: Trudeau-Mania, western alienation, the War Measures Act, the re-organization of the civil service, Quebec sovereignty; Canadians reflect upon the legacies of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau years as extremes. You either feel strongly positive or strongly negative; no sitting on the fence here. Pierre Trudeau's name is already idolized within the Liberal Party as the champion of federalists, while at the same time reviled by many westerners and sovereignist Quebecers.
In the years leading up to this recent election, there has been speculation and whisperings among many that Justin Trudeau would make a foray into federal politics. In fact, it could be argued that during his public speaking appearances, he was testing the waters and reaching out to his father's former supporters to see if they would embrace him as a worthy heir to carry the Liberal torch. Another dark horse candidate to throw his hat into the political ring would be his filmmaker brother Alexandre. However, his films tend to have an extreme leftist bias and he has shown no interest in running for public office, despite the amount of interest he could generate by doing so.
The future does look promising for Justin Trudeau to continue his ascension to thetop. While not quite the second coming, he does not have the left-leaning tendencies of his father, which fits the centrist direction that the Liberal Party needs to follow in order to regain power. Secondly, the Liberal leadership is in disarray, still feeling the effects of the Sponsorship Scandal, and no clear frontrunner has emerged for the post as of yet. Third, new immigrants to Canada still largely associate the Trudeau Liberal government with laying the foundations for the immigration policies that allowed their entry into the country, even though many of them never lived here until after he left office in 1984. These things could work in Justin’s favour on the national stage.
Despite a close race to win his riding of Papineau, Justin Trudeau could be in the early stages of a meteoric rise to the top offices in Canada like his father. A Liberal party leadership could come out of the current turmoil sooner rather than later for the 37 year-old, which could position him to make a run for the Prime Minister's office in the next decade. He has several things going for him: a philanthropic background, a model wife and an iconic last name.
No, you compare a Mercedes with a Lada. The Trudeaus dont have class. The Kennedys had an impact on international politic. They were living mythology. PET (fart in french) was a pretentious man and Justin, his son, a first class moron