Don Martin: Why should Justin Trudeau enter his final full year as PM? Because it’s 2022. is

It’s a mid-life crisis like no other as Justin Trudeau turns 50, but there’s nowhere to go.

Three-term prime minister and 1971 Christmas Day child faces a gloomy Omicron while facing a major personal decision: stay or go?

But, but, but, you could say that the question was answered with Trudeau saying he would totally run again. Oh, puh-lees. Which leader will step down in a new mandate, indicating retirement for just three months?

Common sense says Trudeau not only tempts luck by going against the traditional three-strike-and-you’re-out electoral math, but runs the risk of triggering impatient grumbling from the leader wannabes in his cabinet.

And yet, it is not easy to see a lucrative post-political career for a young and healthy party leader, who has been ensnared in the top political job of the country.

He may be oozing charisma and excel at spontaneous interactions with the public, but whenever Trudeau arrives on the podium for an official speech, he delivers plastic scripts via dead-eyed teleprompter readings.

Couple that with few signs of great intellectual depth and it doesn’t look like Trudeau will be impressed by offers of a corporate board chair or sustain a long world tour of $150,000-per-speech fee for blue-chip audiences.

That’s not to say that Justin Trudeau’s legacy is only that of a drama teacher whose family-name is a birthright that allows him to coast through the job of prime minister.

He has done great things, arguably presiding a far more productive era than Stephen Harper or even Jean Chrétien, legalizing pot, legalizing medically assisted death, giving provinces cheap child care. Along with nation-defining acts like handing over funds to the Cabinet, ensuring gender balance in the cabinet. And launching a massive pandemic rescue package in just weeks. Those heavy political acts took courage and determination and they all came to the fore with the least amount of fuss or scandal.

But timing is everything in politics and his stature is clearly shrinking as many months to years of soul-destroying pandemic-pain seem to have no end.

So smart money will be at stake with 2022 as Trudeau’s final full year in office.

The footprints are already there for his future walks in the snow.

He is showing a startling lack of motivation to launch a fourth mandate designed as a necessary turning point in Canadian history, his mind-numbing series of media interviews at the end of the year showcasing his talent. Taken into account to say nothing and their usual high- octane energy is depleted by the weight of very high pressure picks.

In addition, she has clearly crowned her preferred successor, giving her the top two jobs of deputy prime minister and finance minister, installing Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s first elected female prime minister.

Now, before we go any further, my top prediction for 2022 is if Trudeau-retirement speculation becomes a reality, the next Liberal leader will be a woman who will actually be elected prime minister if the Conservatives somehow don’t catch fire.

But it won’t be Chrystia Freeland.

She’s got the right stuff for the job and all, but Freeland’s public persona can be aggressively condescending, her caucus relations are no better than her own top bureaucrats’ reportedly cool and aloof demeanor, and she works too hard. As if the victory of his leadership is one fate complete.

For a more likely post-Trudeau leader look at current National Defense Minister Anita Anand, whose first cabinet job saw a resounding success in procuring vaccines for all Canadians and who committed military sexual misconduct a month earlier than the former minister. Deal with the mess more firmly. Harjit Sajjan did it in six years.

The law professor is well-liked by Liberal lawmakers, commanding meeting rooms when major decisions are made, and has been known to quietly forge links to Liberal membership, whose votes will ultimately crown the winner.

So I’ll limit my New Year’s column to just one tall prediction – Anita Anand as Liberal leader will be next.

As for the current one, well, if he makes solid Made-in-Canada progress toward combating climate change, delivering meaningful Indigenous reconciliation and keeping the economy on a healthy track, Justin Trudeau will be on the cusp of next year. May finally bow down to a transformational prime minister who, when his sunny paths began in 2015, delivered more than anyone expected.

But if he sticks around for too long, exhausted voters will slash his poll numbers toward a potential electoral defeat and he could end his rule by being forced out the door by his own Liberal lawmakers.

So why should Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seriously consider leaving? Because it is 2022.

That’s the bottom line.


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