October 7, 2012

If I were Justin Trudeau’s publicist…

As a young child in the 70s even I have memories of Trudeaumania and that signature rose lapel.  It’s been a while since we’ve had that sort of charismatic leader that puts Canada on the map. And after 10 years of less-than-captivating Steven Harper, maybe that’s what’s reviving some of the Trudeau craze. If so, is that why many are pinning their hopes on Justin Trudeau? It seems just as many Canadians are skeptical and doubtful that he is up for the job.


So what does Justin Trudeau have to do to be the next federal liberal leader?


Be more real. There’s an opportunity for Trudeau to be more authentic – avoid the fakeness and cheesiness that we so often see with young, new leaders. While his age is arguably an asset, it won’t be if he comes off as an naïve idealist.


Cool down the rock star appeal. Be a little less flashy and flamboyant – while it may work for the launch of the leadership campaign, it’s next to impossible to sustain over the long term and will make him an easy target for negative publicity.


Avoid the fluffy, motherhood messages. While it may be argued that part of Trudeau’s appeal is his flare for the dramatic and his actor’s instinct – qualities that get leaders south of the border elected – Canadians’ tastes differ. After all, we gave Harper a majority.  My advice: stick to a few simple messages but ensure they offer substance and insight into what he stands for.


Distance himself from his father’s legacy….or not? That’s a hard one. Trudeau’s lineage means he is a known entity in Canada; and if we learned anything from Michael Ignatiff’s liberal leadership is that Canadians are quick to label the outsider. Minimally Trudeau’s run at the leadership will be good for liberal brand.  But will it help him win? It’ll be important for Trudeau to position himself as his own man and quickly prove his capabilities.


Be ready for the tough questions. This can make or break the man. We don’t know his position on many issues or how he’ll handle controversy.  We know he’s up for publicity stunts after the boxing match with Patrick Brazeau, but we don’t know his stand on most economic and social issues; we don’t know his plans to rebuild the liberal party and we don’t know what his priorities would be if he won the leadership. The sooner Trudeau demonstrates the kind of leader he will be, the better.




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