If, say just hypothetically, you find yourself getting tired of Justin Trudeau, I should warn you it’s going to be a rough week.
It’s going to be all Trudeau. All week. Indeed, the universe is calling in a fresh supply from the rarely-used Emergency Trudeau Reserve. Alexandre Trudeau will testify to a commons committee Wednesday about goings-on at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, following testimony from former Trudeau Foundation CEO Morris Rosenberg. This follows last week’s genuinely disturbing testimony by former Trudeau Foundation CEO Pascale Fournier.
This week’s edition of Trudeau Week will be only half-done when much of Ottawa decamps to the glass-walled Shaw Centre on the Rideau Canal for the 2023 Liberal! National! Convention! Highlights of that festival of foregone conclusions include an opening keynote address by You Know Who, followed by his trip to London for a coronation. This time, as it turns out, not his own. Profiting from his absence, his party will use the rest of the weekend to question not a single element of the leader’s record or projects. On Saturday, by my count, Katie Telford will pass Jean Pelletier as the longest-serving chief of staff any prime minister has had.
Jean Chrétien will also address the convention. The implied comparison flatters Trudeau in at least one way. At the equivalent point in Chrétien’s own prime ministership, seven-ish years in, Liberal leadership infighting was leading the nightly news. Chrétien’s handling of the 2000 Liberal convention and the rest of that year showed he was still the Liberals’ best fighter. But he needed to be on his game, because his party was giving itself whiplash looking over its shoulder at what might have been.
Trudeau’s hegemony, in contrast, only further solidifies when his party contemplates matters of succession. Hillary Clinton will join Chrystia Freeland on Friday for a fireside-style chat, a spectacle that lends itself to so many possible interpretations the two women might as well just hold up Rorschach blots for an hour. Mark Carney is moving early to pre-empt speculation, which makes me feel remiss because I had forgotten to speculate. The rest of the leadership field is former rookie cabinet ministers who have become veterans. I could list them here, but it seems gentler not to. For all their qualities, they do not stimulate a market for more of them when they show up somewhere.
In short it will be the kind of week in which both the Liberal Party’s highest hopes and its biggest headaches are direct products of the fact that its leader is Justin Trudeau. There are many such weeks. He brackets his party.