The realization dawned at a news conference late in the 2004 election campaign.

As rookie Conservative leader Stephen Harper beautifully trashed Liberal talk of his hidden agenda and unleashed a compelling case for dumping a corrupt government, it struck me. This guy was absolutely going to be prime minister – and he’d keep the job for a long, long time.

It took another election, but Harper did it and has a decent chance of staying beyond 2015.

I haven’t seen an aura of destiny around any leader wannabe in the ten years since. Until this week.

Watching Justin Trudeau bargepole 32 senators out of his caucus was to see a policy lightweight armed only with a paternal pedigree morph into a prime ministerial contender with some serious spine.

It doesn’t matter if his Senate segregation remains a work in progress or will change little in Red Chamber voting.

What matters is that his actions after nine months as third-place party leader have spoken louder than Stephen Harper’s words after eight years as prime minister.

Everyone chants that the status quo in the Senate is not an option, but only Trudeau has taken any steps to impose structural change on a patronage palace unaltered since its inception.

It was not an easy sacrifice. These are diehard Liberal loyalists. They hold an archive of valuable advice. They bring feedback and fundraising to the table.

And at the precise moment he badly needs veteran campaign warhorses to battle Conservative senatorial sycophants, Trudeau has put them out to pasture.

Like it or not, symbolic or historic, that’s a difficult act of strong leadership.

The poignant eulogy he delivered at his father’s funeral proved eldest son Justin was the offspring with royal political jelly.

It still takes a squint to imagine him in the job and the eardrums rattle resistance at the odd ring to the words ‘Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’.

But by seizing an agenda claimed by the Conservatives which put the mighty PMO into gulp and snicker mode is the best proof yet he will walk all the way to the top in his father’s footsteps.