- The Washington Times - Monday, October 19, 2015

He bears one of the most famous surnames in Canadian politics, but he was something of an unknown quantity in his first run for the nation’s top job.

But now Justin Trudeau, the 43-year-old eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and his center-left Liberal Party have emerged as the big winners in Canada’s federal elections Monday, putting the spotlight firmly on the younger Mr. Trudeau after nearly a decade of rule in Ottawa under Conservative Stephen Harper.

Mr. Harper, who conceded the race, called Mr. Trudeau and congratulated him, The Associated Press reported.

Despite his pedigree, the youthful-looking Mr. Trudeau faced considerable skepticism on the campaign trail over whether he was ready for the top job, with Conservative attack ads referring to him by his first name and declaring him “just not ready” to be prime minister. But his unexpected poise in the candidate debates and a growing weariness with the blunt Mr. Harper helped fuel a late surge to victory by the Liberals, once seen as Canada’s “natural” ruling party.

Justin Trudeau’s political career began in a grocery store parking lot asking passersby to buy Liberal Party memberships in 2007, in his bid to become the Liberal nominee for Papineau, a populous, low-income district in Montreal that is geographically the smallest “riding” — or voting district — in the country.

A year of campaigning later, Mr. Trudeau edged past the Parti Quebecois incumbent to win a seat in Parliament.

Dark-haired and father to a young family, Mr. Trudeau geared his campaign to the younger generation of Canadians, promising change to those chafing the Harper government with pledges to expand the middle class, make education more affordable for students, and reverse the Conservative austerity economic agenda.

“Real Change” — Mr. Trudeau’s slogan — helped fuel a remarkable rebound for the Liberals, who were reduced third place in the House of Commons behind the leftist New Democratic Party after a disastrous 2011 campaign.

Mr. Trudeau was born in his father’s third year in office in 1971, growing up while his father spent a total of fifteen years as prime minister. As a young man, Justin Trudeau veered away from politics, instead becoming a teacher of math and French, after earning degrees in literature and education.

The death of his father in 2000 brought Mr. Trudeau back under the spotlight, and the eloquent eulogy he delivered at the funeral stirred the nation and planted the seeds for a future career in politics.

Quickly rising through the Liberal hierarchy, he became party leader in April 2013 after a thorough housecleaning following the 2011 election debacle.

In his 2014 autobiography, Mr. Trudeau gave a hint at his governing priorities, contrasting them with what he said was the divisive, un-Canadian approach adopted under Mr. Harper and the Conservatives.

“Their approach is to exploit divisions rather than bridge them,” he wrote. “Perhaps that’s an effective political strategy, but it’s lousy way to govern a country, especially one as diverse as ours.”


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