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By: Takhliq Amir
Within hours of the news that Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau was elected as that new Prime Minister, the reaction of the country and the world began to pour in. After approximately ten years of Canadian politics headed by Conservative leader Stephen Harper, it was understandable that the majority win by a previously third-ranking party would make news.
What was slightly less expected, however, was the focus of the new attention. It wasn’t really about the new policies that the Liberals are promising to introduce, or even the fact that we finally said goodbye to Stephen Harper. In the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, the headline read, “Is Justin Trudeau the sexiest politician in the world?” An Australian news website wrote about Trudeau as “Canada’s new, incredibly good-looking prime minister,” describing him as a “super hot new leader.” All across social media people began to comment on his slim physique, his adorable family, and his beautiful wife.
This is, to an extent, understandable. Trudeau is seen as an easy-going, energetic guy. From ski-instructor, to teacher, to boxer, he has held a variety of occupations that have not only showcased his athleticism but also his amiability. From taking selfies with little kids to making burgers and pizza, Trudeau has developed a strong connection with the people of Canada simply by appearing to be just like everyone else. However, the Conservative campaign focused not on Trudeau’s looks, but on the question of if he was ready for the role of Prime Minister.
While the election may have been won, the future is really the time when his decisions will define his leadership. Instead of focusing on his looks, the country and the world needs to focus on his politics.
Based on his party’s policies, for instance, a Liberal government would be more interventionist on economic matters. Their proposal to invest up to five billion dollars annually in additional infrastructure spending leads to running budget deficits over the next three years by taking the currently balanced budget to one that would run a deficit of nearly ten billion dollars before being balanced in 2019-20. Additionally, critics have argued that it could lead to “chronic deficits” that Ottawa would not be able to handle and decreased future tax cuts. However, a deficit of around ten billion dollars represents merely three percent of the federal budget and 0.5 percent of GDP. Regardless, we can absolutely say that the conversation on economy is infinitely more vital than one on his looks.
The Trudeau government has also decided that Canada will be withdrawing from the American-led airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, instead focusing on international peace operations with the United Nations that involve providing humanitarian aid and military resources to train local forces in war-like regions. Trudeau has further promised to allow 25,000 Syrians refuge in Canada by the end of 2015, a move that would cost $100 million. On another note, the Liberal government will be increasing the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 per year for full-time students (a 50 percent increase) and $1,800 for part-time students. It will further introduce a plan that requires students to repay their student loans only after they have begun earning at least $25,000 annually, thereby addressing issues surrounding student debt.
As a student, the Liberal policy regarding student loans matters. As a citizen of Canada, the future of the Canadian economy matters. As a human being, the role of the Canadian government in the war in Syria and the refugee crisis matters. So while “Trudeaumania” may have taken over the country, it is imperative that it remains temporary. Sure, while the Daily Mirror may arguably be right about the young Trudeau having “luscious brown hair, [and] spellbinding eyes” we have to keep in mind that his good looks will not dictate his political leadership.
Mr. Trudeau may have won the election, but the question of how he moves forward is one that everyone should keep in mind. Our focus needs to be on what it really means to have real change, not a handsome leader. The world needs to give the younger Trudeau a chance by seeing and believing in him as the true leader of Canada.