Leah McLaren

Justin Trudeau’s election gamble is backfiring

(Photo: Getty)

In 1966, a year before Pierre Elliott Trudeau first blazed to power, the bard-poet Leonard Cohen published his second and final novel, Beautiful Losers. The book is a hallucinogenic, stream-of-consciousness steam bath of Catholic allusions, French separatist indignance and extra-marital forest porn with hot indigenous chicks. Needless to say it’s basically unreadable. Back home in Canada though, the book is still widely taught and read. Over half a century on it still sells thousands of copies each year. The reason, as one early critic noted, is that the book, while being an obvious failure, is nonetheless ‘an important failure.’ Which brings me to the matter of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

Having called a snap election, Trudeau is now flailing in the polls. While 20 September is still weeks away, it looks bad for his Liberal party. In effect, Trudeau has pulled a Theresa May. It’s difficult to know why politicians make the bad decisions they do. The safe bet is always on hubris but inevitably there’s more to it than that.

As with Theresa May in 2017, Trudeau was basically okay with his lot – but he wanted something better and saw a way through. Every PM wants a big fat majority but in Trudeau’s case he didn’t actually need it to survive. Canada has a long history of functional minority governments. There’s no imminent Brexit-type-political-disaster-scenario on the cards. Our parliamentary system is modelled on the British one, right down to our little folding green seats in the Commons. It’s the same but calmer, less fractious. Twice the size with roughly half the people.

The race Trudeau now finds himself in has been devoid of gold dust

While May reluctantly took the leap, Justin was up for it. He genuinely enjoys a campaign, which is different from saying he’s always amazing at it. The guy does have his golden moments.

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