March 2, 2017

LEUNG | Hot Politics

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A tattoo of Earth inside a Haida raven on his left shoulder. Sightings at boxing matches. Articles and pictures of his rear in slacks. Ever since October of 2015, popularity over a certain world leader emerged. But since a highly controversial president was elected in America, not only has Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popularity skyrocketed, but his status within this country has as well. He has become a symbol of hope.

It’s no accident that his growth in popularity came as Trump entered office. Since then, countless videos have been created comparing the two of them talk about uranium and quantum computing — emphasizing Trudeau’s knowledge and eloquence and Trump’s lack thereof. There are articles on how Trudeau was able to take control of Trump’s uncomfortable handshake and humorous images of Ivanka Trump apparently “swooning” in the Prime Minister’s presence. And with the president’s recent defense of a travel ban placed on refugees, Trudeau’s statement that he will take the United States’ banned refugees touched the hearts of Americans who believe a ban would be inhumane and unjust.

Amidst the disappointment, fear and outrage that many Americans have felt since the election  and will continue to feel for the next four years, Trudeau stands as a sort of symbol of hope and progress. At a town hall forum in Belleville, Ontario, Trudeau stated, “I’m never going to shy away from standing up for what I believe in — whether it’s proclaiming loudly to the world that I am a feminist, whether it’s understanding that immigration is a source of strength for us and Muslim Canadians are an essential part of the success of our country today and into the future.” His statements, which so many people in this country relate to, have acted as a catalyst for the adoration of this world leader. Although recorded a year ago, videos of Trudeau declaring himself a feminist have also recently arisen in contrast to Trump’s lewd remarks on women. Much of what Trudeau has said and done has resurfaced as a result of Trump’s own actions.

People are most attracted to the ideals for which Trudeau stands. What they wish a president would do, he has done. He went to the airport to personally welcome Syrian refugees into Canada and gave them winter coats. He acknowledges that climate change exists and he promotes clean energy practices — 81 percent of Canada’s electricity is provided by solar, wind, hydroelectric or nuclear power. He is publically a LGBTQ ally and walked in Toronto’s Pride Parade. When he was sworn in as prime minister, he established a diverse cabinet with an equal number of men and women. According to an Ipsos poll conducted by the Global News, if given the choice, more Americans would rather have Trudeau in the White House than Trump. Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, told Global News, in regard to the popularity of the Prime Minister,“part of it is Trudeau on his own, part of it is what’s happening in the U.S. right now.”

Devoid of politics, there is no doubt that the public is also infatuated with his handsomeness — a seemingly trivial thing, but real and powerful nonetheless. John F. Kennedy was another president who caught the attention of the public with his good looks. In the first-ever televised general-election presidential debate in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Kennedy’s  handsome and charming appearance dispelled much of the public’s worry that he was too young and inexperienced to be president. Much of the attention Trudeau has gained is in his ability to cause a stir on social media through his appearance. Social media has indeed done an effective job in circulating photos of Trudeau’s looks and the effect he seems to have on everyone, from excited crowds to celebrities like Kate Middleton and Emma Watson. There are videos of him dancing, pictures of him balancing babies on one hand and photos of him boxing shirtless. Just recently, major news outlets have published articles on how photos of young Justin Trudeau are burning up the internet.
I focus on the popularity of Trudeau within the United States only, however, for a recent forum poll shows a decrease in his approval ratings in Canada. Canadians have their own views on how he is dealing with their policies. Many people aren’t aware of the problems Canadians are facing within the country and how Trudeau is dealing with them. His political decisions in the country remain removed from what we know and understand here. But in the United States, his popularity has continued to grow. Whether people agree with his policies or not, Trudeau has become an icon for Americans. He is such a contrasting image to Trump that people have found a source of comfort in him. No matter people’s obsession with his good looks and charm, his progressive thinking and actions resonate with the discontented hearts of Americans.


Gaby Leung is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]Serendipitous Musings appears alternate Thursdays this semester.