The Summer of Justin
The upcoming summer season will be the best of times; it will be the worst of times.
That is, it’ll be the best of times for Liberals and the worst of times for Conservatives and New Democrats.
And I’m not just saying that for the purpose of employing a pretentious literary allusion.
The fact is the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer will create a political environment in Canada that plays to the Liberal party’s strengths and exposes the Opposition parties’ weaknesses.
To see what I mean by all this, let’s first consider the summer situation for the Liberals.
To begin with, it should go without saying that the main strength for the Liberal Party is its leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose widely adulated boyish charm has seemingly enthralled the entire nation, if not the whole world.
And, of course, Trudeau is at his delightful best when he’s away from the stifling and stuffy confines of Parliament, with all its stodgy rules and antiquated traditions and outdated protocols.
Sure the prime minister can make the odd news headlines in Parliament by sticking his tongue out at the Opposition or by elbowing an MP in the chest, but for the most part the House of Commons just doesn’t suit his hip and trendy style.
This is why the summer will be so good for the Liberals; the House of Commons will be in recess, meaning Trudeau will be totally free to be Trudeau.
In other words, he won’t have to worry about mundane Parliamentary tasks, such as you know governing the country, and will be able to fully focus all his talents on doing what he does best: posing for photo ops.
Indeed, I suspect over the next few months we’ll be bombarded with a never-ending stream of eye-catching Trudeau images; maybe he’ll be juggling babies at a British Columbia barbecue or gliding along Toronto’s Yonge Street on a skateboard or practicing yoga at Peggy’s Cove.
His options are as unlimited as a child’s (or as a PR flack’s) imagination.
And keep in mind, the summer is jam packed with events overflowing with visual possibilities.
Canada Day, Gay Pride Parades, beach volleyball tournaments – all of them offer a rich backdrop for prime ministerial photo op extravaganzas.
What I’m trying to say here is that summer time equals Trudeau time.
His presence will likely dominate the media, garnering him all sorts of positive, “feel good” coverage.
Yes certainly, the other parties will try to grab their share of media attention but this is where the weaknesses of the Conservatives and NDP come into play.
For instance, the Conservative Party’s interim leader, Rona Ambrose, is a well-respected, thoughtful and experienced parliamentarian.
Or to put it another way, she’s boring.
Then there’s NDP interim (aka “lame duck”) leader Thomas Mulcair, who even at the best of times was known as “Angry Tom.”
Now, after having been unceremoniously and publically rejected by his own party at the last NDP convention, a better nickname for Mulcair might be “Bitter and Angry Tom.”
My point is neither Ambrose nor Mulcair is exactly a photo op magnet.
What’s more, I don’t expect the NDP and Conservatives will make publicizing their “stop-gap” leaders much of a priority this summer.
In fact, both parties will likely spend more time looking inward, mobilizing and energizing their own supporters for impending leadership campaigns.
So Trudeau, almost by default, will basically have the summer field all to himself.
The best Conservatives and New Democrats can hope for is that their political situation will start getting sunnier when our weather starts getting gloomier.
(This article originally appeared in the Ottawa Hill Times.)