The international response to Justin Trudeau’s election as the nation’s prime minister has been nothing more than hilarious and, to some, a little silly.
Media statements such as this from an Australian news agency dominated the newswire shortly after Trudeau swept Stephen Harper from office a little more than a week ago: “The votes are in and Canada has come out of its election with a super hot new leader.”
Somehow I doubt that happened when Mr. Harper wrestled the nation’s highest political office out of the arms of Paul Martin and the Liberals in 2006, though perhaps Stephen is now wishing he had accepted last year’s offer of a “makeover” from Lululemon.
There were immediate comparisons between the prime minister-elect to John Kennedy and Trudeau’s late father Pierre, who was also likened to the fabled U.S. president, killed by a sniper in 1963.
His victory was not only acclaimed by the elder Trudeau’s left-leaning supporters, but also by thousands of swooning women around the world, who took to social media to anoint the “tall, dark and handsome” prime minister the “sexiest leader in the world.”
There were, of course, more substantial international reactions to Trudeau’s victory. Websites based in Israel and the Ukraine lamented Harper’s defeat, viewing it as the loss of a strong friend. On the other side, the climate-control crowd applauded the election results, confident that Trudeau would strengthen Canada’s position on greenhouse gas emissions.
Russian state media appeared to find particular pleasure in the defeat of Mr. Harper, who had become one of President Vladimir Putin’s loudest international critics.
Tweeted Libyan activist Hend Amry, known for her commentary on the Middle East: “I hate to say it, but I think Canada’s new prime minister is really giving Putin a run for his money in the ‘topless photos on the Internet’ department.”
Her tongue-in-cheek comment triggered a fresh exchange of photos of Canada’s “hunky” new leader. Less than an hour later—after the online magazine Slate published “a guide to Justin Trudeau’s hairstyles and emotions” (declaring that Mr. Trudeau’s “piercing stare won a decisive victory over every single other thing in Canada”) – Hend experienced something like remorse.
“Um, this isn’t the kind of gender equality in the media we meant,” she suggested.
Slate and other media also took the opportunity to retell tales of the fabled dating life of Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, while he was prime minister for most of 1968 to 1984. The “dashing” Trudeau dated numerous women during his political career, including Barbra Streisand, Kim Catrall and Margot Kidder, eventually settling on North Vancouver’s Margaret Sinclair as his first lady. They divorced in 1984.
As a somewhat cryptic sidebar to Justin Trudeau’s election victory, former U.S. president Richard Nixon eerily predicted it in 1972, when Trudeau was only four years old. During a state visit to Canada in April of that year, Nixon made an uncanny statement: “Tonight we’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau.”
Who knows, maybe Tricky Dicky saw something no one else did; maybe he detected a sparkle in the four-year-old’s eyes that was destined to make women swoon, just as they did for his father during his lengthy tenure.
Let’s hope the titillation surrounding our new prime minister quickly dissipates, however, because Mr. Trudeau will invariably pack on the pounds and begin to experience hair loss as he tackles the stressful life of a national leader.
And how would we feel then, eh?