There are those who claim that Justin Trudeau became prime minister because of his name. And, in his first months in office, I find myself comparing him -- unfavourably -- to his father. Lawrence Martin argues that, in many ways, Justin is not his father's son. And that is all for the better:
In fact, the case could well be made that Justin Trudeau is a more complex individual than his father, deeper in terms of his range of emotions and vulnerabilities, broader in terms of of his interests and relationships. The father tended to limit his reading to non-fiction. Justin, while having studied engineering as well the humanities, was a habitual reader of novels, arguing in his home that “encyclopedias could teach me facts, but only a great story could transport me into the mind of another person.
While the father who lived only in Central Canada loathed the politics of door-knocking, the son who lived on the West Coast for a period revelled in it, developing a closer relationship with and understanding of regular people. The father moved through life into his forties as a boulevardier, generally doing as he pleased, experiencing little in the way of hardship. While benefiting from the security that parental wealth brings, Justin Trudeau has had experiences far more trying.
Justin has admitted as much. Trudeau the Elder
gave him books, one of which, as Justin Trudeau wrote about in his own memoir Common Ground, was about extraordinary steps to be taken to adapt to emotional agonies. “My father’s approach, which he encouraged me to practise, had little or nothing to do with emotions. It was exclusively intellectual.” But that approach didn’t work with Justin. Preoccupying him instead was the psychological turmoil of his mother, Margaret. “My mother’s challenge was to deal with her emotions, and I became caught up in that process.”
Time will tell just what kind of prime minister Trudeau the Younger will be. But perhaps we do him a disservice if we try to measure him using his father as a rubric.