Canadians have long been told that their prime ministers have too much power. Most recently the chafing control tactics used by Stephen Harper and Conservative political staff were a major factor in the electorate’s rejection of his government. Harper’s successor, Justin Trudeau, has insisted that he would be the one to reverse the trend of centralization. It is early days, but still useful to ask whether we are living a repetition of the trajectory followed by Trudeau’s predecessors: you campaign for change, you make some progress early in your term, but gradually the thorny realities of governing take hold.
Optimism abounds when a new government replaces the old regime, especially when citizens and the media get caught up in the excitement of a fresh face. Trudeau’s charisma is marketing magic, and his sunny ways are a tonic. A spirit of openness, empowerment, unity and optimism has swept through Canadian politics. Even those who cringe at the celebrity treatment of the telegenic Liberal leader ought to concede that the uplifting tone is a net positive for Canadian democracy after the acrimony of Conservative rule.
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