Justin Trudeau, from progressive icon to accusations of opportunism

The contradictions of the Canadian Prime Minister disappointed his supporters, who saw in him the embodiment of the values ​​of tolerance and openness.

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A campaign poster by Justin Trudeau, degraded by inscriptions accusing him of hypocrisy on the climate issue, October 18 in Montreal. LOUIS BAUDOIN / AFP

The last time Canadians spoke at the polls, many felt it was an existential battle for the soul of the country. At the time, in 2015, the young Justin Trudeau, prodigy son of the flamboyant Pierre Elliott Trudeau, prime minister for nearly fifteen years (1968-1979 and 1980-1984), won the federal election with flying colors. the very austere Stephen Harper, indelible leader of a conservative party worn by ten years of power.

At the end of a crazy campaign, he was able to impose himself in a country that was said to be too big, too complicated to manage for this quadra who had never presented a single bill during his four years in Parliament. Justin Trudeau breathed a new wind on Canada numb after years marked by austerity and withdrawal. For its supporters, the victory marked the return of Canadian values ​​- tolerance, openness and progressivism – that previous governments had abandoned.

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The ballot on Monday, October 21st was quite different. Maladresses and scandals tarnished the Prime Minister's star. Returning to campaign on September 11, with a sluggish slogan – "Choosing to move forward" – Justin Trudeau returned the image of a candidate telling voters to simply turn the page on his mistakes.

"The fact is he always wears a mask"

Of course, the charm is not quite broken. In Montreal, as in Ottawa and Vancouver, where the Prime Minister narrowly won against his opponents, Liberal Party activists feverishly rejoiced. But everywhere else, after the breathless excitement of the past, is the time for questions and doubts, the need to see through and beyond Mr. Trudeau.

A long time icon of the progressives, he disappointed a part of his electorate and plunged his own camp into an identity crisis. The disorder caused by the publication, in September, of several photos where it is seen costumed, made in Black ("blackface"), was quite detrimental. These revelations have been added to a recurring criticism of his character, formulated by his detractors: the progressivism he relies upon would be nothing more than a varnish of opportunist politician. In defense of the environment, did he not resign himself to nationalizing a pipeline to sell Alberta oil to the Pacific? Did not its high-profile tax on the richest 1% of the country mask the rebates granted to the next 10%? And what about the pressure exerted on her Minister of Justice to dissuade her from suing a Quebec engineering firm, SNC-Lavalin, accused of fraud and corruption in Libya?

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His main opponents did not hesitate to question his sincerity. In a recent televised debate, Andrew Scheer even mocked a formula reminiscent of the photos of "blackface": "The fact is he always wears a mask. " More enigmatic, Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party and likely partner of the Liberal Party in a minority government, took the audience to witness: "Who is the real Mr. Trudeau? " The question has not been finished.


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