Justin Trudeau’s opponents have never quite figured him out. His fast rise, his ability to inspire legions of followers and his gift for withstanding controversy – most recently, a blackface and brownface scandal that would have delivered a body blow to any other politician – simply defy tradition.
It would be easy to chalk this up to his famous last name. But that would cheapen the sustained effort that went into building a Canadian brand that’s up there with canoes and beavers – one carefully built for his millions of social-media followers. Just last week, he even paddled up to a campaign announcement for a camping subsidy – a made-for-Instagram moment.
So politics may not be the best lens through which to see Mr. Trudeau. In a way, that’s merely what he does for a living. Instead, he is a celebrity – Canada’s first Brand Prime Minister.
The father of modern advertising, David Ogilvy, described a brand as “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes.” While he probably had Coca-Cola in mind more than a world leader, his definition helps ground the image Mr. Trudeau has cultivated so meticulously.
There’s ample evidence he understands this. His political birth in the boxing ring against then-senator Patrick Brazeau was no coincidence. In a later interview with Rolling Stone, he reminisced about the fight, calling it “the right kind of narrative, the right story to tell.” And through campaign ads and photo-ops doing the Grouse Grind, walking up an escalator or speaking at a big rally, he furthered a perception of energy and enthusiasm.
The best brands have always found a way to position themselves at the centre of cultural moments to make deeper connections, and Mr. Trudeau has offered a master class in this, from his “because it’s 2015” gender-balanced cabinet to his tweet welcoming refugees to Canada during Donald Trump’s attempted Muslim ban. This outward egalitarianism, along with his celebrity and good looks, contrasted nicely with the rise of global populism, landing him on the cover of Vogue and making him a People-magazine Prime Minister.
Celebrities simply occupy a different space in our culture, and they can survive almost anything. Robert Downey Jr. didn’t let a jail sentence stop him being one of the highest-grossing actors in the world. Even the other Canadian Justin kept his career on track after an N-word-laced video from Mr. Bieber’s youth emerged. While we scratch our heads how he’s still standing, even after the latest revelations seemed to undermine the core of his self-presentation, it’s that same brand that’s giving him a fighting chance. As is the case with celebrities, people know – or think they know – more about Mr. Trudeau than expressed by a single incident, or even a demonstrated pattern of behaviour. The mocking by late-night hosts and political commentators is just part of show business.
It’s why we shouldn’t compare Mr. Trudeau to base and mortal politicians. The closest approximation, in spirit if not politics, is the celebrity-in-chief next door. Donald Trump, the former reality-TV star, summed up his imperviousness thusly: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any votes.” Mr. Trudeau may not be explicitly articulating this, but he is exemplifying it. His celebrity affords him a cadre of diehard fans who treat him like family, and like other celebrities, he benefits from the hangers-on whose incomes and stature benefit from sharing the spotlight. Even at his lowest moment in public life, he was surrounded by fans and an entourage that stayed as true as the concert promoters who want the next tour, no matter what the singer did.
It’s too soon to know if the blackface scandal will be different than how he removed two talented women from cabinet or how he dressed in India. But elections are increasingly won or lost on emotions; voters base their decisions based on how they feel about the brands, rather than the policy specifics. It’s a perfect situation for Brand Trudeau.
And even if voters defeat him, you can’t help but think that won’t be the end of his public life. He’s just too big now. We’ll just see him on the next season of Dancing with the Stars. And his fans will be right there with him, texting in their votes, because the ultimate redemption story will find its way to completion – one way or another.
Doctored video shows Trump violently attacking media figures
Issued on: 14/10/2019 – 13:20Modified: 14/10/2019 – 13:31
A video showing a doctored image of US President Donald Trump shooting and assaulting members of the media and political opponents was shown at an event for his supporters last week at Mar-a-Lago, The New York Times reported.
In the internet meme entitled “The Trumpsman”, the US president‘s head is superimposed on an image of a man attacking people whose faces have been replaced with the logos of media outlets including CNN, The Washington Post, NBC and the BBC. The video has been taken from a scene in the film “Kingsman: The Secret Service”.
As the rampage continues inside the “Church of Fake News”, the Trump character strikes late senator John McCain on the back of the neck and torches the head of Senator Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential rival.
He throws former Republican senator Mitt Romney to the ground and strikes former president Barack Obama in the back before slamming him against a wall.
The video also depicts Trump attacking people including his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton; former president Bill Clinton; Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee who is leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump; actor Rosie O’Donnell; and financier George Soros, who is often a target of alt-right conspiracy theories. Trump is also shown attacking someone whose head has been superimposed with the Black Lives Matter logo.
The organiser of last week’s “American Priority” event – which was held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Miami – said the clip was part of a “meme exhibit”. Speakers at the conference included the president’s son Donald Trump Jr and former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech,” Alex Phillips told The New York Times.
‘Enemies of the people’
The White House Correspondents Association said in a statement that it was “horrified” by the video and that “all Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed towards journalists and [Trump’s] political opponents”.
CNN wrote on Twitter: “This is not the first time that supporters of the President have promoted violence against the media in a video they apparently find entertaining, but it is by far and away the worst.”
Trump, the White House and his campaign must denounce the clip, the channel said, adding that “anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence”.
Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s 2020 election campaign, told the Times the “video was not produced by the campaign, and we do not condone violence”.
Media organisations have come under regular verbal attack from Trump and his supporters.
At rallies, the US president repeatedly encourages the crowd to boo and heckle journalists covering the event, calling them “fake news” and “enemies of the people”.
Trump has previously tweeted a roughly edited video clip of him attacking a wrestler whose head had been superimposed with a CNN logo.
Everything you Need to know About Maxime Bernier
Maxime Bernier PC MP (born January 18, 1963) is a Canadian businessman, lawyer and politician serving as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Beauce since 2006. He is the founder and current leader of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
Prior to entering politics, Bernier held positions in the fields of law, finance and banking. First elected to the Canadian House of Commons as a Conservative, Bernier served as Minister of Industry, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, which later became the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism and Agriculture in the cabinet of then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Following the Conservatives’ defeat in the 2015 election, he served as opposition critic for Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the shadow cabinets of Rona Ambrose and Andrew Scheer, until June 12, 2018.
Bernier ran for the Conservative Party leadership in the 2017 leadership election, and came in a close second with over 49% of the vote in the 13th round, after leading the eventual winner, Andrew Scheer, in the first 12 rounds. Fifteen months later, in August 2018, Bernier resigned from the Conservative Party to create his own party, citing disagreements with Scheer’s leadership. His new party was named the People’s Party of Canada in September 2018.
He has been a separatist, a Conservative cabinet minister, even ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party. So how did Maxime Bernier wind up leading a brand new party in this election campaign?
And when did some of his more controversial positions take hold?
In the sixth and final Canadian leadership profile, Jayme Poisson speaks to the CBC’s Jonathan Montpetit about Maxime Bernier, the controversial head of the People’s Party of Canada. 28:05
Everything you Need to Know About Yves-François Blanchet
Yves-François Blanchet (born April 16, 1965) is a Canadian politician serving as Leader of the Bloc Québécois since 2019.
He is a graduate from the Université de Montréal where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology in 1987. He later worked as a teacher and was a founder of an artist, disc and concert management firm, YFB Inc. while being the president of the ADISQ from 2003 to 2006. He was named the local business personality of the year by the Drummondville Chamber of Commerce, while he and associated artists received 10 Félix Awards.
Blanchet was elected to represent the riding of Drummond in the National Assembly of Quebec in the 2008 provincial election. In the 2012 election, he was reelected, this time in Johnson electoral district. He was defeated by CAQ candidate André Lamontagne in the 2014 Quebec election. A member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), Blanchet was Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks from 2012 until 2014. He was also a member of the Youth National Committee of the Parti Québécois in 1988 as well as a regional director of the PQ.
On November 26, 2018, Blanchet announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Bloc Québécois (BQ). As no other candidate had entered the race by the time nominations closed on January 15, 2019, Blanchet was officially acclaimed leader on January 17, 2019.
He’s definitely not as familiar outside of Quebec as he is in his home province. But the Bloc Québécois has been the official opposition in the past and so it’s important to know what Yves-François Blanchet stands for and what he would fight for on behalf of Quebec.
If nothing else, listen to learn Blanchet’s nickname — and how he earned it.
The Bloc Québécois was once a powerful federal political party, forming the official opposition in 1993 and holding around fifty seats in the House in the mid to late 2000’s. But the last two elections have nearly wiped the Bloc from existence, and the party has had a revolving door of leaders. This year, Yves-François Blanchet took over the reins. Today on Front Burner, as part of our series on the federal party leaders, we take a look at who Blanchet is and what he stands for with Martin Patriquin, a freelance political journalist based in Montreal. 21:28
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