Sunday, April 14, 2013

For Liberals, Family Matters

Conservatives are supposed to be the party of family values, yet yesterday Liberals showed just how important family really is.

It was Justin Trudeau, the son of a former Prime Minister who was elected Liberal Leader in a contest that saw the largest turnout ever for electing a party leader in Canadian history.

But in the face of criticism that Justin Trudeau became Liberal Leader because of his family name, one has to ask whether that is so bad. Especially considering most of the world is led by leaders who were made familiar to their citizens through family.

From Shinzo Abe in Japan, Sonia Ghandi in India, Christina Fernandez de Kirchener in Argentina to soon-to-be Hillary Clinton in America, leaders with prior family connections are rightly popular. Not to mention a certain woman illustrated on our twenty dollar bill.

The fact that Liberals and Canadians, as polling so strongly shows, support someone because of their family relations is not something to criticize, it is to be honoured. It is a response of a people distant from their political process who want someone they feel close to, someone they know, and someone they can relate to.

In a world of globalization, materialistic consumerism, and increasing individualism, the idea that people still want familiarity with their leaders is a good thing. It would be quite the clockwork democracy if the focus of choosing our representatives rested solely on impersonal resumes as if vision, heart, and ability to lead didn't matter.

And if experience was the only thing that mattered, Jack Layton would never have become NDP Leader. Before he was elected to lead the party in 2003 Jack, himself the son of a former cabinet minister, had never been an MP and had absolutely zero experience in the federal government. But that certainly didn't stop him from eventually winning a seat in 2004, leading the New Democrats to historic victories, and being a fundamental inspiration to his party.

And while Justin Trudeau could be chastised for his lack of experience, with five years as an MP and repeatedly winning an incredibly Liberal unfriendly riding, he has far more experience than the late NDP Leader did.

People may criticize Justin Trudeau's lack of a resume, that he won because of a name, or because of his father, but as the world is getting more cold, more distant, and more individualistic, you have to wonder whether Canadians rallying around someone because of family is really such a bad thing.

Most Canadians knew his father, and for five years as a Member of Parliament they've gotten to know him. With two years till the next federal election, we will all become even more familiar with Justin Trudeau. And as Canadians come together they will only further strengthen the idea that family matters.

Congratulations to Justin Trudeau. 


Tom said...

I guess this means that the LPC need never have another leadership contest since Xavier James and Grace Margaret will be next in line. They both have the same family connections after all. said...

Tom, Xavier and Grace certainly would have more of an "in" than a stranger or an outsider, and as I wrote above that's a good thing.

Liberals who value familiarity represent a significant proportion of the Canadian population who do likewise.

For those who want distant unknown leaders they can always vote Conservative.