Former Tory PM, endorses Trudeau, infuriates Conservatives

Julian Wolfe
April 12th, 2013

Voting for the next Liberal leader may only end on Sunday but for former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Justin Trudeau is the clear choice. Mulroney infuriated the Conservative party Monday as he endorsed their toughest adversary in an interview with CTV’s Power Play. Ever since Trudeau entered the race, polls have shown a sharp incline for the party which would give them a majority government.

Mulroney, without any hesitation, has endorsed Trudeau stating there’s nothing to hate about him and that he shouldn’t be underestimated.

“I’ve known Justin since he was a child. He is young, articulate, attractive – a flawlessly bilingual young man. What’s not to like with this picture?

Anybody who treats Justin Trudeau with scorn or derision or underestimates him does so at his own peril.

We’ll see what happens in the future; it’s a long way from here to there. But no one should underestimate Justin. He is a man of some consequence.”

Brian Mulroney, Progressive Conservative, Prime Minister: 1984 to 1993

Conservative bloggers have lashed out at Mulroney, one stated that he was the worst PM after Pierre Elliot Trudeau, another wrote, “It’s amazing what old age can do to a person.”

The endorsement came as a surprise considering Mulroney’s opposition to his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. In an interview in 2007, Mulroney said Pierre was “far from a perfect man.”

“This is a man who questioned the Allies when the Jews were being sacrificed and, when the great extermination program was on, he was marching around Outremont [Montreal] on the other side of the issue,” Mulroney said in 2007.

Mulroney isn’t the only high profile person from outside Liberal circles to endorse Justin. Last month, former Canadian Alliance – Reform – Party leader and cabinet Minister in the Harper government, Stockwell Day said Trudeau shouldn’t be underestimated.

“I got to know him — obviously we were fellow MPs. I have a lot of respect for him.

He is genuinely a nice guy. When people used to laugh and say ‘he doesn’t have his father’s brain, there’s no way he could do this’ I constantly — for the last two or three years — have been telling my colleagues ‘do not laugh at this guy, do not dismiss him, he may not have his father’s brain but he’s got a big heart and he has the ability to win people over.

Many people, including some in the media that are dismissive of him, do not understate this guy and he will be a force to be dealt with.”

Stockwell Day, Canadian Alliance, Conservative, 2000-2011

Former Conservative and Reformers aren’t the only ones jumping on the Trudeau bandwagon, the Canadian Business Magazine has also thrown their interest behind Trudeau in an article headlined “Justin Trudeau might be better for business than Stephen Harper.”

“For those inclined to simply dismiss Justin Trudeau: don’t. Even in the unlikely event he’s not elected leader of the Liberal party, his recruitment of 150,000 new party supporters and collection of $1.3 million in donations unmistakably confirm him as an influential force in Canadian politics.

Adore or despise him, it is time to take Justin Trudeau seriously. He supports free trade, foreign direct investment and carbon pricing, all pointing to a curious conclusion: the shaggy-haired, former whitewater guide has an agenda just as capitalist-friendly as the Conservatives. If that notion is odd, this one is heretical: Justin Trudeau might be better for business than Stephen Harper.”

James Cowan, Canadian Business, Justin Trudeau might be better for business than Stephen Harper

The momentum spreads past the business world and directly to the Canadian people where polls consistently  show some sort of Trudeau-mania. Polls which feature Justin find that the Liberal party gains 10% in popular opinion with him at its helm. These same polls place Trudeau on top with a range of 38% and 41%, giving Trudeau a strong minority government, or a majority about the same size as Harper’s right now. The polls pit the Conservatives in second and the NDP in a varying distant third.

The Liberal membership and supporters haven’t finished voting but it’s safe to say the buzz is around Trudeau and he will be one to watch. With polls showing he surpasses his opponents in support, with analytics showing he triumphs in endorsements and reigns in the most money, it is almost guaranteed that he will win the leadership – unless Liberal members and supporters give into Joyce Murray, Trudeau’s perceived competitor, and give Thomas Mulcair’s NDP their first ever mandate.

What do you think of Trudeau’s endorsements from traditional Conservative safe havens?

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