We would like a little more substance from Justin Trudeau s’il vous plait

As often happens, the newspaper cartoonist captured the moment in a way that 1,000 words of prose could not.

In the Parliament Hill weekly The Hill Times, cartoonist Michael DeAddler last week commented on the so-called Liberal leadership race.

There is a crowd. “We could take our time and slowly rebuild the Liberal brand,” says one.

“Or we could just follow that guy,” says another as Justin Trudeau stands on a pedestal, cloak and staff in hand, a modern-day Moses prepared to lead his tribe to the promised land.

How true. How pitiful.

Barring a catastrophe of epic political proportions, Trudeau will be elected next April as the 12th leader of the storied Liberal Party of Canada, the party that gave Canada Wilfrid Laurier, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. It led Canada for most of the last century.

It helped create modern Canada.

But the Liberal Party has fallen on hard times.

In the 2011 election, it fell to third place for the first time, receiving less than 20 percent of the popular vote for the first time.

Until 2006, only one Liberal leader , Edward Blake in the 19th Century, did not become prime minister. In recent years, two leaders have been included in that column — Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.

In April, interim leader Bob Rae will step down without a sniff of power that he so craved after a brief and disastrous stint as NDP premier of Ontario in the 1990s.

The obvious replacement is Justin Trudeau, son of a storied prime minister and by all accounts a uniter and a national phenom.

Why just last week, a poll showed that with Trudeau as leader, the Liberal party would cruise to a majority government with 160 seats in Parliament.



The poll was taken before Trudeau uttered a single word about his platform, his vision of the country.

It was taken before a single other serious candidate announced his or her plan to run.

It was a poll that made Liberal “we were born to govern” hearts go pitter patter but it has little reality attached.

There still is a leadership race to endure and there will be other candidates.

Trudeau may actually have to articulate a policy more specific than that he wants to bring Canadians together.

And he may have to articulate a view on agriculture because one of his opponents almost certainly will be Martha Hall-Finley, a former Liberal MP who recently paid off her debt for her 2006 failed leadership race and appears poised to run again.

She will run in part on a platform that includes phasing out supply management.

Trudeau has not spoken yet about agriculture, but with his Quebec base, it is easy to imagine he will oppose Hall-Finley’s proposals.

But beyond that, does he offer a vision to the country beyond being his father’s son?

For the moment, polls suggest that for Canadians and Liberals, that is enough.


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