The Canadian journalists we rely on to handicap the horse races in federal politics underestimated Thomas Mulcair’s appeal outside Quebec and just as badly overestimated Michael Ignatieff’s appeal in Canada. Second-hand stories about Mulcair’s bad temper and second-hand stories about Ignatieff’s brilliance were unpersuasive.
Consequently, the national media today is playing a more modest role in the roll-out of the Liberal Party’s presumptive front-runner, Justin Trudeau. With that light touch the Canadian press employs for vacuous British Royal visits, they’re helping to turn a do-or-die contest for Canadian liberalism into a coronation.
The editorial pages of the Globe and Mail and the National Post tell us to be objective and set aside half-backed clichés. Readers are assured by the Post that Justin Trudeau isn’t an “untested political dilettante” because he won two elections in the riding of Papineau, Quebec. The Globe reminds young Western Canada to not judge him by what they were told about his father and that there is no ideal credential for political leadership. They conclude that before we oppose Mr. Trudeau’s candidacy, we should study his parliamentary record and “policy positions, once they’re announced.”
This is all too coy.
As a young backbencher, Trudeau has no Parliamentary record of his own. Inviting Liberals and potential liberal supporters to judge him, in effect, by policy positions churned out by party professionals will only confirm he’s a front-runner, not a competent future leader.
Winning a riding in which the Conservative vote is under 5% hardly hints at his ability to offer a credible, sustained alternative to Stephen Harper, let alone rally progressive centrists who are now favoring Thomas Mulcair.
It’s not mean-spirited to ask the national press to give Justin Trudeau a rough ride—to be as hard on him as prudent Liberals must.