Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2013
Source: Truro Daily News (CN NS)
Copyright: 2013 The Daily News
Author: Tim Harper
Page: 8


Everyone's luck runs out at some point

Justin Trudeau is flying awfully close to the flame. He may yet get
scorched. Since entering federal politics, the Liberal leader has
taken a series of risks. They've all been calculated risks, but risks

He has profited from many and appears to have survived them all, but
by playing the political game in such an unconventional manner, there
is no guarantee that this string of good fortune can be sustained.

He's surviving, even flourishing, with a combination of charisma,
favourable treatment from a national press pack desperate for a little
colour in a drab political landscape, mastery of social media - and a
little luck.

Trudeau took his first risk in choosing Papineau in which to run in
2008, eschewing safer turf for a Bloc Quebecois-held riding,
unseating a popular incumbent.

He has taken mock pratfalls down a flight of stairs for the television
cameras, he did a faux striptease in front of the cameras at a charity
fundraiser, he stepped into the boxing ring against a then-
Conservative senator.

Had he been carried out of the ring in the battle with Patrick
Brazeau, we would not be having this conversation. But he took a
calculated risk and he won. He took a risk in coming clean to an
Ottawa reporter about his personal wealth and the money he earned on
the speaking tour, then took an even larger risk by still accepting
speaking fees after being elected an MP.

He risked overplaying his hand as the reluctant leadership candidate,
but played it well.

He's even taking a calculated risk with his image by moving his family
into elite Rockcliffe Park in Ottawa while championing the middle class.

Which, of course, brings us to his most recent risk, his pot-smoking
interviewed with The Huffington Post. It is not news, of course, that
a 41- year-old man has smoked a joint, and the marijuana question is
a journalistic trick that is more than two decades old.

It doesn't automatically make him cool, just as not smoking a joint
doesn't immediately make one uncool. People have been smoking joints
in this country for decades and they're not all cool.

The risky part for Trudeau came with the details.

Trudeau could have acknowledged he had fired up a joint, five or six
times, as he did, but he took the risk in volunteering that he has
smoked a joint since becoming an MP, an MP who was clearly thinking of
federal leadership, and an MP who voted in favour of tougher marijuana
possession penalties.

More interesting, for me, in the interview, was the ease with which he
brought his late brother into the mix, revealing Michel Trudeau, who
died in an avalanche in 1998, was facing a charge of marijuana
possession at the time of his death.

That led him to question the criminalization of marijuana, Trudeau
said, but that didn't really seem to be a reason to go there and we
can't go to Michel for context or an explanation.

More often than not, Trudeau seems determined to fill dead air and, in
his quest for candour and openness, he sometimes fills in too many

Living his life as an open book has an appeal, but while some will be
drawn to this openness, he is also raising the judgment question, one
sure to be exploited by his political opponents in the coming election.

He has emerged unscathed, perhaps enhanced, and he can still dominate
a news cycle like no other Canadian politician.

A case in point - last week NDP Leader Tom Mulcair was fulminating in
both official languages about Stephen Harper's decision to prorogue

Barely had the television lights dimmed on the Opposition leader when
Trudeau tweeted that he and wife, Sophie Gregoire, were expecting
another child. Mulcair's message was immediately vapourized. So, we
can expect another Trudeau baby and we know he smoked a joint at a
dinner party a few years ago. But I'm not sure I have any idea where
Trudeau stands on prorogation, the latest twist in the Senate spending
fiasco, or the potential of a giant American player entering the
Canadian wireless market.

The Trudeau risk-initiative, calculated as it is, is so far working.
But everyone's luck runs out at some point.

And he seems habitually drawn to that flame.
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MAP posted-by: Matt