“Nice hair, though.”
So ends a TV ad run by defeated incumbent Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party questioning the experience and suitability of well-coiffed Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau — now prime minister-elect — for Canada’s highest office.
“He’s like a celebrity who says things before thinking them through,” one member of a job interview panel says in the broadcast, titled The Interview.
“So what are his policies?” interjects another. “He has some growing up to do,” a third says, before it’s decided that the then-hairdo (over the ears, modestly unkempt, wavy-natural) of this eldest son of Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s longest serving prime minister, may be his most redeeming quality.
Yet his victory Monday night after a long election campaign that featured dramatic reversals of fortune for Canada’s three main political parties suggests Trudeau, at 43, is more than a head of good hair.
Born in Ottawa to two political families — his grandfather on his mother’s side was a Canadian cabinet minister — Trudeau took a little while to find his political footsteps, choosing to eschew his dynastic links in favor of, well, a lot things: teaching, acting, environmental advocacy, engineering and even, for a time, coaching bungee-jumping.
He graduated from Montreal’s McGill University in 1994. He is married to Sophie Grégoire, a model and former television presenter. They have three young children.
In 2000, he delivered an eloquent and moving eulogy at his father’s state funeral that many consider to be the defining moment in a meandering route to politics.
“More than anything, to me, he was dad. And what a dad. He loved us with the passion and the devotion that encompassed his life. He taught us to believe in ourselves, to stand up for ourselves, to know ourselves and to accept responsibility for ourselves,” Trudeau said.
“We knew we were the luckiest kids in the world. And we had done nothing to actually deserve it. It was instead something that we would have to spend the rest of our lives to work very hard to live up to.”
In 2007, a long tack back to a political career in earnest “began,” Trudeau says in a statement on his party’s website, “in a parking lot. A grocery store parking lot, to be precise, directly across the street from a shawarma restaurant and a barbershop.”
By 2013, he was leader of the Liberal Party, a position secured by his father, Pierre, a little more than 45 years earlier.
Under Trudeau, the Liberal party has moved to the left, and he has vowed policies to boost infrastructure and welfare spending, raise taxes on the wealthy, legalize marijuana (“right away”), be more generous in the number of refugees Canada takes in and to support women’s rights.
“I am a feminist. I’m proud to be a feminist,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter late last month.
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