I admit it: I’m a Trudeaumaniac. Are you?
The Times, November 2, 2015
The next Canadian prime minister boxes, loves Star Wars, and has the hair of a Renaissance prince.
On October 19 the Canadian people elected Justin Trudeau as their new prime minister. I cannot thank them enough. It’s funny. You go months and months without the faintest sniff of a new man crush and then, just like that, a 43-year-old former bungee-jumping instructor, former bouncer, former actor who has been known to do stripteases for charity is suddenly running the one of the largest countries on the planet and, more importantly, occupying your every waking thought.
Looking online, millions of people seem to feel the same way. It turns out I am experiencing what is being widely diagnosed as Trudeaumania.
I am fine with this. For one thing there is nothing weird about a straight man (eg, me) developing a tingly, hard-to-shift attraction towards another bloke. Like I say, I’ve had plenty of man crushes in the past — Paolo Maldini, Sean Bean, that Slovenian dancer off Strictly — crushes founded primarily on a combination of aesthetic appreciation, deep respect for their professional abilities and a general sense that, if we ever met, we’d definitely end up being best friends forever.
But with Justin, it’s different. It’s deeper. Since learning of his existence I’ve been verging on the obsessional, Googling stuff like “Justin Trudeau entire life story?”, scrolling through endless images of his searching, pale blue eyes and watching YouTube videos of him doing a bhangra dance at an Indian-Canadian cultural event. He is sensational. I have watched that video many times.
The question, though, is why? Why are so many of us — men, women, gay, straight — all experiencing similar swells of affection towards Trudeau? He’s almost too good to be true. It’s like he’s the earnest, eccentric, nerdily cute protagonist of a Wes Anderson film about some guy who ends up becoming the prime minister of Canada. How has this happened? Why do I like him so much?
Trudeaumania is a complex condition, but one that I have been spending a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of. Here are my findings so far.
His dad was also prime minister (plus a massive player). The first thing you need to understand about Justin Trudeau is that his father, Pierre, was prime minister of Canada between 1968 and 1984. This kind of apparent nepotism is for most people a huge turn-off.
But then the first thing you need to understand about Pierre is that he was a flamboyant ladies’ man who was romantically linked with Barbra Streisand, Kim Cattrall and, after divorcing Justin’s mum, that actress who played Lois Lane in the Superman films.
Can you even imagine how hard that must have been for young Justin? To be assaulted with mental images of your old man at it with Samantha whenever Sex and the City was on the telly? Or, likewise, every time Woman in Love came on the radio? If that were me, I don’t think I’d be able to leave my therapist’s office, let alone win the leadership of the Liberal party, then go out and win a general election. Far from nepotism, it’s a triumph in the face of adversity. You have to respect that.
He’s got incredible hair. I mean just look at it. He’s like some kind of Renaissance prince.
He’s had loads of weird jobs. So, yeah, as already mentioned, Trudeau has worked as a bungee-jump instructor, a nightclub doorman, a snowboarding instructor, a white-water rafting guide and an English teacher.
In 2007 he acted in a Canadian miniseries about the First World War for no other reason than the producers thought he’d be the perfect guy to portray a Canadian war hero. How many current frontbench British politicians do you reckon have ever been approached to play war heroes? Go on. Have a guess.
He is both a lover and a fighter. A few years ago he defeated a Conservative senator in a three-round charity bout. Afterwards he embraced his wife, the French-Canadian TV presenter Sophie Grégoire, just like they were Rocky and Adrian. How can you not admire a man who does that? I mean forget the boxing. Just being married to a French-Canadian TV presenter called Sophie probably tops anything I’ll ever do.
He loves nature. Particularly mountains. According to his website, he decided he was going to become a teacher during a “quiet moment of reflection” on a mountain. Later, he would decide he wanted to become prime minister while up a mountain. Basically, if he ever needs to make a decision, he goes up a mountain. This is probably easier to do in Canada than most places but still a lot cooler than focus groups.
He’s big on “strengthening the middle class” economically. Hey, that’s me! Or at least it would be if I lived in Canada. Anyway, keep talking, baby: I love it.
He’s jammin’. Trudeau has confessed to smoking marijuana “maybe five or six times in my life”, most recently at a dinner party that he and his wife hosted in 2010 while he was an MP. “Our kids were at their grandmother’s for the night and one of our friends lit a joint and passed it around,” he said. Totally, absolutely and utterly unrelated to this, he is committed to the legalisation of marijuana in Canada.
He is a deeply passionate man. He once had to apologise for shouting “You piece of s***!” at the Conservative environment minister during a discussion about the Kyoto Protocol in the Canadian House of Commons. But it was only because he really, really does love nature (see above).
His social media game is uncompromisingly patriotic. I’ve been going through his Twitter account with a fine-tooth comb and it turns out that, while he follows any Canadian celebrity you can think of — Bryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Kiefer Sutherland, you name it — he hasn’t found time to follow David Cameron. Because why debase yourself cosying up to other world leaders online when you can be cyberpals with William Shatner instead?
He loves Star Wars. I love Star Wars too. Let’s be friends for ever.
He knows how to strip. At something called the What a Girl Wants Gala he (partially) undressed to raise money for research into liver disease. If you watch the footage online, you can tell there’s a tiny part of him that was up for getting totally naked (it’s the teasing way he removes his necktie at the start). During the general election, his Conservative opponents tried to use images of this in their campaign against him. Big mistake. Trudeau ended up claiming a remarkable 40 per cent of the popular vote. So draw your own conclusions.
He is a white man with a tribal tattoo but against all the odds he gets away with it. At the age of 40, and before he became Liberal leader in 2013, he had a raven in the style of the Haida people done on his upper left bicep. Rather than complain about cultural appropriation, however, the Pacific northwest’s Haida elders were just like “Yep, cool, no probs, love it”. Such is the enduring power of Trudeaumania.