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“Justin Trudeau on the Ropes”: in power and on the tightrope

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick archives The Canadian Press In his 100-page essay, Paul Wells takes a critical look at the rise of Justin Trudeau to the head of the PLC and his short electoral victories.

Since his surprising victory in the famous boxing match against Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau in 2012, the boxer image has stuck to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But of all the political battles he has fought over the past decade, clinging to power for a fourth time will be by far the toughest, writes veteran political journalist Paul Wells in his new book Justin Trudeau on the Ropes: Governing in Troubled Times.

“It’s not because Canada is becoming more conservative or that conservatives are more convincing than before. It’s because people who have often voted liberal are starting to ask themselves: what’s that worth ?” explains the author in an interview with Devoir.

Met in a café a few steps from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, l The former journalist for the magazine Maclean's even makes a connection with the debates on the sovereignty of Quebec. “It’s not a PQ who will succeed in increasing support for sovereignty. It’s always a liberal who throws in the towel. Conversely, the crises of sovereignty were not exploits of the federalists, it was when René Lévesque no longer seemed to believe in them,” he illustrates.

In his hundred-page essay, Paul Wells takes a critical look at the rise of Justin Trudeau to the head of the Liberal Party of Canada (PLC), the formation of his cabinet of ministers (mostly recruits) during of his first term and his electoral victories won with “the smallest proportions of the popular vote in history.”

Mr. Wells agrees that his book, the fourth of his own, is “pretty critical.” But it also highlights how Justin Trudeau has regularly defied the odds by overcoming numerous controversies. “He thinks we underestimate ourselves too often. And he's right,” he says without hesitation.

The controversy over old photos of the Prime Minister in “blackface< /i>» during costume parties at the turn of the millennium is an example. The controversy ultimately had no effect on his support, in the middle of the 2019 electoral campaign, the author recalls.

“He had survived scandals and self-inflicted humiliations to win a second term. Little of his dignity or his initial promise had survived the struggle, but he still stood,” he writes in his book.

“Liberals acceded to power in 2015, after years in the desert, to discover that the very manner of their rise made it a different government than the one they had imagined, more cautious and more scripted,” we read.

Theorizing Justin Trudeau

Why write a book about Justin Trudeau eight years after his first election ? Paul Wells admits that he initially had a completely different writing project in mind before being approached by his publisher. “He told me I needed to [write] about Justin Trudeau, because people still don’t understand him, even a decade later. We have no theory about him. I saw it as a challenge,” he relates with a smile.

Written in the space of barely four months, the essay does not reveal no new facts, but revisits the recent history of the PLC through the author's eyes. “I've done a few interviews, but for the most part it's me, my eyes, my brain.”

The book is divided into four chapters: rise , crisis, polarization, lessons. In the first part, we recall in detail the circumstances that led to Trudeau's election as head of the PLC — a historical context that he considers crucial to understanding his style of governance, he insists.< /p>

A lesson in humility

This is not Paul Wells' first work on a prime minister. In 2006, he published a portrait of more than 450 pages on the prime minister at the time, Stephen Harper.

And something that profoundly differentiates Mr. Trudeau from his predecessor, he says, is his inability to adapt to new political realities. “Despite the fact that [Mr. Harper] did not have charisma, he was able to increase his vote election after election because he submitted to a serious exercise of introspection and questioning, whereas this is not the reflex of [Justin Trudeau ],” he observes.

After decades spent covering federal politics, the journalist hopes his book will be seen as a review of the recent history of Canadian politics. “It’s the dialogue between the manager and society that interests me. I hope this is what readers will remember. »

Justin Trudeau on the Ropes: Governing in Troubled Times

Paul Wells, Sutherland House Books, 2024, 100 pages. Available in English only.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116