Tuesday, August 31, 2010 8:31 AM

Justin Trudeau admires his mother's 'self-awareness'

Jane Taber

1. Memoirs and mental health. Michael Ignatieff’s summer bus tour is winding down. But Justin Trudeau’s tour is only beginning.

The 38-year-old Montreal MP and son of the late Pierre Trudeau is one of the Liberal caucus superstars and there is speculation he will be making a run for the leadership in a few years.

He works hard at it, never turning down an opportunity to speak at a fundraiser. Monday night in Baddeck, for example, he was the keynote speaker at a provincial riding event. Next week he’s touring Nova Scotia and PEI.

His famous mother, Margaret, meanwhile, is poised to release a new biography in the fall, explaining how her mental illness (she suffers from bipolar disorder) affected decisions around her marriage, her career and her relationships with some very famous men.

She’s not new to biography, having written two tell-all books about her life, documenting some of her adventures with various famous characters, including Mick Jagger and the late U.S. senator, Ted Kennedy.

Mr. Trudeau said he hasn’t read those books but he has read her latest work. And although he is quick to play down any talk of his own leadership ambitions, he is expansive about his mother’s latest effort.

In it, he says, his 61-year-old mother and grandmother of four, looks back at her life with a lot of “self-awareness.” There are some juicy bits, he allows, but her work is mostly aimed at de-stigmatizing mental illness.

Mr. Trudeau says he is “really proud” of his mother and the work she has put into her biography. He notes that she has been inspired by ordinary Canadians who come forward, telling her that her openness and frankness about mental illness have helped them.

In addition to examining her life and her decisions, three experts on mental illness have also contributed to the book, providing perspective on the disease.

2. Fight club. Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals will be in closed-door meetings Tuesday morning where they will hear from strategists that if Stephen Harper starts a fight, “we’re now in a position to finish it for them,” according to a senior Liberal official.

Advisers in charge of fundraising, policy, organization and polling will address the Liberal troops as MPs and senators strategize for the fall sitting of Parliament. Although an election is not something the Liberals are gunning for, insiders say it’s something they are now prepared for.

Last year at their summer caucus in Sudbury, Ont., Mr. Ignatieff threatened an election. His strategy backfired and he paid dearly for it, losing support in the national polls and among some caucus members.

He has spent the past year – including taking the summer to tour the country in a bus – trying to repair that damage. So far, so good as MPs and Senators are in a great mood at this caucus retreat compared to the tense mood of last year.

The message emerging from the meeting is that, on several crucial key fronts, the Liberals are in a position to compete with the Tories. “This summer was a terrific dry-run for a national election campaign,” Nova Scotia Liberal MP Scott Brison says.

Mr. Brison suggests Mr. Ignatieff was “over-managed” last year and is now being allowed to be himself. That was in evidence during his bus tour, where he was unscripted and relaxed.

“We want to try to make Parliament work,” Mr. Brison adds. But he and other Liberals are suspicious about Stephen Harper’s appointment of hyper-partisan John Baird as Government House Leader.

That move “is not exactly a signal of peace, love and harmony,” Mr. Brison says. “This is a government that, when they want an election, plays games with the question of confidence. It’s hard to predict.”

3. Target: Outremont. Liberals are gunning for NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair over the long-gun registry issue, demanding he use his influence among his MPs to encourage them to vote to keep the registry.

The Grit strategy attempts to show that NDP Leader Jack Layton is weak because he is refusing to force his MPs vote against Tory private member’s bill to scrap the registry.

The crucial vote is Sept. 22; it is not clear if the registry will be saved, given Mr. Layton’s decision to not whip the vote. Twelve New Democrats supported the government last fall when the vote first came to the Commons.

Eight Liberals supported the Tories at the time. But Michael Ignatieff has whipped the vote and will punish MPs who break ranks.

The Grit strategy targets Mr. Mulcair, who took the Montreal riding of Outremont away from the Liberals. The Liberals want it back and will take every opportunity to embarrass or criticize Mr. Mulcair.

Quebeckers support the registry, which became law in 1995 after being created in response to the 1989 massacre of 14 women at the École Polytechnique. The school is, not surprisingly, located in Mr. Mulcair’s riding.




Ignatieff performance to date while the highest of ethical behaviour and while he has the highest of qualifications and experience does not rectify his lack of passion and vision, the essential qualities of a future successful prime minister of Canada.

That being said, while the Liberals need to rethink their leadership, Canada's future will only go downhill while under a Republican puppet governor.




Justin Trudeau is to be commended for his dedication to public service to date, as is his mother who has had the rare courage to publicize the need for awareness of mental health issues which are a Canadian Taboo.

Justine has had one hell of an education in many ways that will guarantee him a role as the Prime Minister of Canada. This will happen a lot sooner than anyone can imagine.