Justin Trudeau swept to power, ending the ten-year rule of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Trudeau’s vision was relentlessly optimistic: the word “positive” was heard eight times in his victory speech, along with references to “sunny ways” and “hope and hard work.” But the fates decreed that he would govern in darker times. His rookie government, itself mainly staffed by rookies in federal politics, had to learn on the job in an age of polarization, misinformation, and pandemic, while dealing with the rise of Trump and Brexit, a newly belligerent China, and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. The moment needed more than a young PM’s abundant charm. And almost from the outset, Trudeau struggled to rise to the occasion.
A decade after he published The Longer I’m Prime Minister, the definitive portrait of Stephen Harper in power, Paul Wells, one of Canada’s all-time great political writers, turns his attention to Justin Trudeau, a man of talent, ambition, and trust issues in a time of mistrust.