Don Martin: Putting Trudeaumania to the test
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatick
Published Thursday, October 13, 2016 5:58PM EDT
The toughest truest test of Trudeaumania starts now.
Today, exactly one year after Stephen Harper symbolically threw in the election towel by staging a Toronto event with Rob Ford, his replacement faces the daunting Medicine Hat reality check.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads into southern Alberta this evening to defend his kamikazi Liberal candidate in a Medicine Hat by-election being held in 10 days.
No sitting prime minister has ventured into this diehard Conservative country in 23 years.
It’s pointless, after all.
Conservative prime ministers, even those like Harper representing a Calgary riding just a two-hour drive away, haven’t bothered protecting their most bulletproof territory.
And, until today, leaders of all other parties know resistance is futile and avert their electoral eyes to regions offering glimmers of faint hope.
Conservatives win this riding with astonishing regularity, usually grabbing more than 70 per cent of the vote.
Securing the Conservative party nomination is the only fight. After that’s won, it’s feet up for candidates until the MP pension kicks in.
But the word out of Medicine Hat is that almost 1,500 locals are vying to overflow a local venue this evening which can handle half that number.
This for a mere meet-and-greet handshake from Trudeau.
This one week after Trudeau vowed to impose a carbon tax, which some Alberta Conservative MPs describe as the second coming of the National Energy Program.
If this public enthusiasm translates into votes and victory or even a strong showing by the Liberals, it will be beyond astonishing, particularly given his candidate runs a catering company while the Conservative is a retired cop.
It will confirm that Trudeau’s popularity has depth beyond surface and selfie appeal. And it will rattle the Conservatives to their core.
Having said that, there’s a certain symmetry if Trudeau can pull this off.
That last Liberal to represent the riding squeaked out the slimmest of victory margins.
That was way back in 1968.
That was when a guy named Pierre Trudeau was a rookie prime minister at the peak of his Trudeaumania.
All manias have an expiry date, of course. Four years later, the Conservatives thundered back to begin a five-decade stranglehold on the riding.
That’s the Last Word….