Justin Trudeau, the young and newly minted leader of the federal Liberals has landed himself under scrutiny after co-opting the legacy of the late Jack Layton as a political tool of his own.
Following the recent by-elections, Trudeau was addressing a crowd of Liberal party supporters when he claimed “Make no mistake, the NDP is no longer the hopeful, optimistic party of Jack Layton… It is the Liberal party tonight that proved hope is stronger than fear, that positive politics can and should win over negative.”
Often, Justin has tried to paint NDP leader Thomas Mulcair as being old-fashioned, aggressive and out-of-touch; very much the opposite of the wide-ranging personal appeal that Canadians’ held for the former NDP leader Jack Layton. He’s even gone as far as publishing pamphlets that picture Mulcair scowling with the caption “too angry”. Although it’s true that Tom is a different person than the NDP’s former leader, it is shameful that Trudeau believes that this gives him the right to assume Jack Layton’s political legacy.
Trudeau based his latest round of mud-slinging on the assertiveness with which Tom Mulcair speaks in the House of Commons. He is forceful, direct and he refuses to accept the non-answers that have become commonplace for the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. This is similar to the clear and impassioned attitude that Jack held in Parliament before his unfortunate passing. Trudeau seems to be confusing passionately holding the government to account, and reasoned debate with cynicism and negativity.
Later, he continues with his comments: “When you’re being positive, when you’re being focused on bringing people together and not playing negative politics and other people are, I don’t think its negative to highlight the fact that people are being negative around you when you’re not attacking and being negative.”
Repeat that? It appears Justin is trying to create a feeling of hope, energy and momentum around himself and his party by adopting Layton’s legacy and style. The reality is, that Jack’s vision was embraced by so many Canadians because of the substance behind his words. He was intelligent, clear and represented a future free from the failings of previous governments. In reality, Justin Trudeau embodies none of these qualities, and by comparing himself to great men he only stands to be lost in their shadow.
These comments and Trudeau’s attempt to usurp the legacy of a man whom he would seldom find agreement with, has only brought criticism and disappointment to the embattled Liberals. The response to these comments has been nearly universally damning, and it appears that this will be another lesson learned for the naive new Liberal leader.
Before the next election, Trudeau has to prove to Canadians that he has substance, and he must represent a clear vision that is different from those of the Conservatives and New Democrats, rather than trying to co-opt support of both parties by adopting New Democrat rhetoric and Conservative policies.