Unless you’re a conservative, it’s been a good few weeks, to be Canadian. All the signals from Justin Trudeau’s early days as Canadian Prime Minister are warming your heart and making you punch the air with glee.
Actually, if you are a person of the right, you’ve had a good long run, in Canada and in Britain. It’s time the rest of us had some cheer.
And boy oh boy, is Justin providing some cheer. Here are the lessons I learned from his first actions in power.
1) Leaders do not need to lose touch with the public. Whether he was gently chiding the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge about how regular folks take the bus or striding around Berri metro (subway) station in Montreal, Justin looks like he’s used to public transport. Maybe he was surrounded by security, but that presence is subtle.
2) “Because it’s 2015” is a perfectly reasonable answer to why gender equality matters, everywhere. Whoever wrote the line is a genius. Justin delivered it like it was obvious. Which it is. From now on, I refuse to get into long feminist debates with anyone about parity. I’ll just smile a charming smile and say “because it’s 2015”. Until it’s 2016. Then, I will adapt to “because it’s 2016”. And repeat, until I am equal.
3) Celebrity parents can raise great kids. Whatever else Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Sinclair Trudeau did, they made an amazing family. The resilience to lose a brother in a tragic accident and the ability to create a great family of your own are part of Justin.
4) White men can look okay when they dance in white clothes along to the music of other cultures. Who knew? Amazing. I just assumed they looked silly, in that situation. But Justin looks like he’s having a great time. Further, he can dance.
5) Justin took the muzzle off Canada’s scientists. They’d been told to shut up by the former Prime Minister (whatisname? I forgot, already). It’s a bad idea to annoy scientists. They probably know how to kill you and melt the body so nobody ever finds you. And they invent great stuff that makes your life better. So it’s common sense to be nice to them. And Justin has common sense, which isn’t that common.
6) Justin cares about First Nations. Indeed, he’s aware of how important First Nations, refugees and immigrants have been in forming Canada. But he doesn’t just talk big about it. Oh no, Justin appoints real people to actual senior jobs.
7) Justin holds hands with his wife, in public. Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau is accomplished and strong and such a breath of fresh air. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to this interview, from before the election.
8) Sitting in between his mother and his wife looks entirely natural. Justin loves women and knows how to be close and understanding. For me, the most amazing part of this is how casually he discusses his mother’s battles with bipolar disorder. And Margaret Trudeau, who was once seen as a poster child for hippie values, has become a strong advocate for better treatment of mental health issues.
9) That President Kennedy effect. It’s just wonderful to have a young and attractive family at 24 Sussex Drive, the Canadian PM’s residence. Or it will be, when they actually move in. (The contractors are saying two years to renovate but honestly, Justin, I can get you moved in a lot sooner than that. I am magic at creating quick and gorgeous renovations. Call me, maybe?) But I digress. They brim with style and joie de vivre, simple joy at being alive. And Sophie talks about her own battles with anorexia and bulimia and campaigns to raise awareness and improve treatment.
10) The Feel Good Glow: Canadians are acting, again, like we are the sensible and effective voice of reason, on the planet. Justin is sending lots of people to the Climate Change conference in Paris whereas old whatshisname was sending nobody. The Keystone pipeline looks like it’s off. We’re proud of the flag and our citizenship. We feel like a happy and inclusive gang. It’s like Expo ’67 and the Habs are winning and Christmas and all other holidays, all together. Sorry, conservative friends. But you never made us feel so pumped up with the joy of possibility and anticipation of the future. Justin, please be a good Prime Minister. So many of our hopes are riding on you.
We love what you’ve taught us and reminded us of, so far. But, please, don’t go breaking my heart? Thank you.