Who could have resisted the image of the telegenic and triumphant young Trudeau, radiating warmth and humanity – qualities sorely lacking in ex-Prime Minister Stephen Harper- as he strode on-stage to make his victory speech.
Mere weeks earlier, it looked like Harper’s politics of fear and division – his odd but apparently vote garnering insistence on making the wearing of the niqab an election issue, his government’s establishment of a“hotline” to report “barbaric cultural practices” and his call for stripping dual citizens convicted of terrorist acts of their Canadian citizenship – were going to usher in another Conservative government. But October 19th’s victory speech was all about inclusiveness and diversity.
Trudeau spoke of “real change” and invoked the ghost of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier citing his comment on“sunny ways” over divisive politics. He reached out to First Nations Communities – who just enjoyed a precedent setting election of 10 members of parliament- and to Muslim Canadians – who had been targeted by Harper under Islamophobic “anti-terror” policies. He even held out an olive branch to Conservatives – who had targeted him in “attack ads”, calling them “our neighbors”, “not our enemies.”
His statements that “Canada was built by people from all corners of the world, all cultures and all faiths” – and“our enviable inclusive society didn’t happen by accident”– recalled the multiculturalist policies of his father Pierre. These were policies that ushered in an era of internationalism and diversity and one that earned Canada a global reputation as a place where human rights were upheld at home and abroad.
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