Garneau the Gimmick

Garneau the Gimmick
  •  emoticon

In an event widely described as the most serious challenge to Justin Trudeau’s otherwise guaranteed coronation as the next boss of the Liberal Party of Canada, former Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau jumped into the Liberal leadership race last week. He will be the first horse-sized duck in a race otherwise dominated by fowl-sized ponies.

An accomplished engineer and navy captain, in 1984, Garneau became the first Canadian in outer space after hitching a ride on the doomed American shuttle Challenger one on of her final flights. Predictably, this made him an overnight natural treasure among Canadians of a certain generation, and after a post-astronaut stint running Canada’s federal space bureaucracy, Marc repeatedly tried to parlay his fame into a John Glenn-style political career — but achieved only marginal success.

In 2006 Garneau attempted to a win a parliamentary seat in the Montreal riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, but was clobbered quite handily by the Bloc Quebecois incumbent by a margin of 43 to 28%. Two years later, he was installed by Liberal boss Stephane Dion as the party’s nominee in a much safer Quebec riding (supposedly on Marc’s own insistence), which he easily won. Three years after that, however, he was very nearly a casualty of the so-called “Orange Crush” NDP sweep that eroded much of his party’s support in the province. Following the subsequent resignation of Michael Ignatieff, Garneau flouted his own name as a possible successor, but his pleas fell on deaf ears as the party quietly installed Bob Rae instead.

Politically speaking, Garneau is thus not terribly different from JT. Both are one-and-half term Quebec MPs representing Parliament’s third-place party. Neither has held a cabinet seat or any other federal, provincial, or municipal office of note. And now both are gunning for their party’s top job on what amounts to a campaign of argumentum ad novitatem, or an appeal to gimmick rather than substance (visit marcgarneau.ca and see how long it takes to spot a space pun).

At the same time, it would be unfair to minimize the obvious differences between the two men. For all his political naivete, Garneau is clearly one of the great heroes of modern Canadian history (as some wags have observed, it’s rare to see a guy run for prime minister with schools already named after him), and “astronaut” is undeniably a job made of far more challenging stuff than “substitute drama teacher” — to quote the popular dismissal of Justin’s pre-parliamentary career.

Yet it reveals much about the current woes of the Liberals that the mere fact that Garneau possesses some experience in something is enough to win him unanimous kudos for being the “substantial” candidate, regardless of how politically irrelevant said experience is in practice. We can all agree that Garneau’s PhD in electrical engineering from the Imperial College of London is impressive, for instance, but barring a need to rewire Parliament’s lighting fixtures, it’s hard to see what relevance it will have for a future prime minister. Only in the land of the desperate is the spaceman a logical king.

Now, one of the most interesting phenomena in contemporary North American politics is the way current partisan trends in Canada have come to resemble an eerie mirror image of those in the States.

Both nations, after all, are governed by essentially pragmatic, moderate administrations that are nevertheless fanatically opposed by opposition parties who believe themselves to be facing down the most ideologically extreme government in their country’s history. And despite incessant efforts to bombard the public with hysterical propaganda, the incumbent still seems weirdly entrenched.

With an election looming, the opposition scrambles to select a candidate to run against their horrible ruler, and though their cast of applicants is wide and ample, the vast majority are untalented hacks devoid of much achievement or substance. Sensing disarray, the sensationalist media happily focuses on the inherent goofiness of the race and its lacklustre contenders, and the opposition brand dwindles into a perennial butt of punchlines and pity.

In this sense, the Canadian left is presently in a roughly similar place to the American right circa summer, 2011, when a large, but sub-par field of wannabe GOP nominees provoked endless pining for some mythical Republican messiah, be it Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, or even — amazingly, in retrospect — Rick Perry, to save the party from itself. But the Republican saviour never came, and neither will the Liberals’.

Instead, they have a Mitt Romney of their very own in Justin Trudeau (a well-bred, out-of-touch flip-flopper), a Perry in the form of Garneau (famous but untested), and a bunch of Bachmann, Cains, and Huntsmans picking up the rear in the form of the six also-rans (only ours have less electoral experience).

Good people didn’t run for president in 2012 in part because they realized the quest to unseat Barack Obama would be impossible so long as the Republican Party’s White House strategy was based entirely around mindless contrarianism personified by, in Paul Krugman’s words, “attacking Mr. Obama for doing things that the president hasn’t done and believing things he doesn’t believe” but rarely offering concrete alternatives of their own. And so too does it appear that good Canadians aren’t exactly rushing to head the Liberals — whose leading politicians muse about secession and non-existent conspiracies to criminalize gay marriage and abortion — for what we must assume are largely the same reasons.

Canadians may not love Prime Minister Harper with a blind uncritical passion any more than Americans love President Obama with a similarly implausible intensity. But the citizens of both countries do seem to trust their leaders’ steady hands and pragmatic visions in a way that ultimately matters a great deal more — and, just as importantly, squirm nervously at the available alternatives.

Captain Garneau may be a fresh political face with a compelling life story, but until he proves himself capable of engaging with the deeper question of just why voters have come to distrust and dislike his party as much as they do, he’s ultimately just one more space case in a party already filled with them.




^ 31 Comments...

  1. Condoleeza Nice

    More like Marc Gar-No!

  2. lukev

    The extremism of the Harper regime is not political leanings, so much as the intense clamp-down on transparency.

    In what sane country does the minister of finance go to court to keep budget details a secret… from their own budget officers?

  3. Hentgen

    Transparency has always been a problem in our Parliamentary democracy. Before the last election, the Globe posted its endorsements for the last 50 years, and they almost always named transparency as a problem.

  4. FuManchu

    "Let's take Canada to new heights". Took me less than one second. Impressive!

  5. Dan

    I hear he flew into space with Americans. Is he a secret American? Just where do his loyalties lie?

  6. @TheInvisibleDan

    Marc Garneau: He didn't come back to Earth for you.

  7. Jake_Ackers

    That reminds me of that episode from the Justice League. The astronaut who came back and became a politician was secretly an alien and the real astronaut died back on Mars.

  8. @mikehatedit

    The thing people often forget about Trudeau is that, if you are below the age of 40, you do not remember PET, because you were ~10 years old when he left office in 1984 and it's highly unlikely that you were into politics at such an age.

    Does the name still pack some punch? Yes. But everyone who fawns over the name (from both sides, Liberals who expect Canadians to "come home" to a beloved former leader; Conservatives who expect Westerners to spit every time the name is mentioned as a sort of Pavlovian reflex) is making a whole string of unsupported assumptions about the electorate: half of us literally do not remember Papa Trudeau.

    Of course, the word "Trudeau" has acquired cultural connotations of its own. (How many of us know people who reflexively hate Mulroney, despite being in a similar position vis-a-vis being wayyyy too young to remember his term in office?) But at that point we aren't talking about the good/bad works of PET, we're talking about what the name has come to represent and symbolize, and that has surprisingly little to do with what Trudeau did–or failed to do–while in office.

  9. PTBO

    Why do you care so much about the leadership race for the third party in the HOC when you barely noticed the Offical Opposition's race (which had a far more impressive and diverse set of candidates)?

  10. Jake_Ackers

    This offers a story. In terms of politics its more interesting to examine the socio-political construct of this race. Like, why Trudeau leading even though Garneu is a better candidate? Is running Trudeau simply because he is the son of a former PM a good idea? etc. etc.

  11. Zharguy

    Why does Garneau having a degree in EE make him irrelevant? Quite a few pieces of legislation that have been proposed in the past few years by Canada and the US could definitely use some input from people who actually have an understanding of the technical issues.

  12. Jake_Ackers

    I thought Canada's royal family was in the UK not the Trudeau Family in Canada. Trudeau offers nothing more than a pretty smile along with some coronation. Like an Obama with Hillary.

    Garneau is a national hero, a military man, an engineer, has political experience to know how to solve the problem but not too much to make him part of it. Frankly, for Canada's own good I hope Trudeau gets the chance to run the party. Here is why.

    There is no way Garneau will unseat Harper. At least not anytime soon. Garneau needs this experience to warm himself up to Canada. Much like every GOP candidate warms up to the base by running twice before he gets the nod. Once Trudeau tries and fails, Garneau will pretty much have an "I hate to say I told you so" moment.

    That or just unite the Left under one banner like Harper did the Right.

  13. PTBO

    Remember that Garneau's party has one third as many seats as the Offical Opposition and close to a sixth of the number of seats as the governing party.

    I agree that Garneau would have difficult time to unseat Harper but not because of his inexperience- more because he would be the leader of the party that can't win in Rural Canada, can't win in the West, is third or second place in each of three major Canadian cites, and has lost voters every election in the past four.

  14. @TheInvisibleDan

    Probably because JJ isn't a mainstream media outlet tasked with covering a broad spectrum of everything that's happening in the world — he's an independent political commentator who is free to pick and choose subjects based on what interests him and what will make the best cartoons.

    If you don't like it, draw your own.

  15. PTBO

    I guess I just find it interesting how obsessed he is with Justin Trudeau and I'm curious why JJ is so fascinated by him.

  16. J.J. McCullough

    I'm not sure the NDP race really did have a more impressive and diverse set of candidates, aside from the fact it contained some actual MPs. In any case, it seemed obvious quite quickly that Thomas Muclair was going to win, and since he barely had anything to say about anything, it was very hard for me to say anything in response. The only angle I found kind of interesting was the whole matter of him refusing to give up French citizenship.

    The Liberal leadership race matters more, I think, because the future of the Liberal Party will truly determine whether or not we are headed for a new two-party system in this country. And that, in turn, very much depends on what kind of guy Justin Trudeau ends up being.

    There's also the simple fact that Justin is just a very interesting and unusual politician. I'm kind of biased towards guys like that because they're fun to write and draw stuff about.

  17. PTBO

    I disagree with uniting the "left" as they are very different parties (liberals, labour-Left, and green tories).

    But I could see a one time electoral pact with a goal of changing the electoral system to a more democratic one. This would end the practise of majority government in this country. The Conservative party would fracture and probably wouldn't be able to win a plurality for a while.

    There would be alot more turnout among working class people and you would see policies that would reflect this turnout. Our country may become slightly more green/equal as a result. Or maybe not.

  18. Jake_Ackers

    Democratic how so? End majority gov't how? Like coalitions?

    Only way would be like the Aussies do. Preferential voting.

  19. OldsVistaCruiser

    There's a precedent here in the States that I'm surprised that no one has mentioned. Although he's now retired from the U.S. Senate, that precedent is none other than John Glenn, a Democrat from Ohio.. He served in the Senate from 1974-1999.

  20. Hentgen

    It seems like you're basing this position on a lot of assumptions that come out of nowhere. Why would the Conservative Party fracture? Their whole ethos is to maintain ironclad unity in order to achieve electoral success and while there has been cracks in that facade while they are comfortably in power, why would defeat drive them apart? How can you know that they have not learn the lessons of previous defeats?

    In addition, I see no reason why a change in the electoral system would improve turnout, unless you made voting mandatory, but that doesn't sound like what you're proposing.

    In fact, I think you're wrong to even think that average people are particularly gung-ho about the idea of electoral change. Attempts in Ontario and BC were defeated soundly. Now is clearly not the time, as the days of minority government at the Federal level, still fresh in our collective memories, were so indecisive, bitter and frustrating that many would shudder to institutionalize them.

    Alternate forms of government that prevent majority governments are not inherently more democratic. Typically, the two largest parties must oppose each other, leaving smaller parties as potential kingmakers. Why should a third place party's demands be catered to over the party holding the plurality? Why should they hold more sway on government than the second-place party?

    Frankly, I don't see anything particularly wrong with the parliamentary system as it stands. It seems to me that Canada has usually gotten the government it collectively desired, even if that left some people unhappy. Most governments that reigned for long periods of time have done so because they were reasonably moderate and competent for the era. It also seems to me that the Canadian people are pretty good at "throwing the bums out" when the time comes.

  21. PTBO

    Preferential voting is better then first past the post- I agree. But I think some form of mixed-member proportional would be the best.

    MMP would end majority government because I doubt very make that any party could win 50%+1 of the vote. So in order to govern there would have to be either coalitions are other forms of cooperation.

    This would make it more democratic because no longer 38% of the population could hold 100% of the power.

    MMP would lessen regional polarization by having betting regional representation. What was the NDP's second best province? Saskatchewan- they got a third of the votes but 0 seats. The NDP got 30% of federal votes and has 30% of the seats in the HoC but their regional composition is completely skewed (towards Quebec even though they got more English votes) due to the electoral vagaries of FPTP.

  22. Jake_Ackers

    Well the thing is that those that aren't voting are actually voting. With their feet. Simply put, if you aren't voting it means you do not approve of the candidates of the system. Thus, yah it needs to be reformed.

    Preferential voting I think is the fairest. I don't like MMP because it pretty much is creating districts within districts. Which if taken to an extreme is simply closer to direct democracy. Because parties won't aim for the win but rather a portion. Thus lets say the Parliament is split 45% to 45% a third party with 10% of the vote which never won a majority in a single district could completely dominate.

    Under preferential system even though you still need 50% plus 1 to win you are pretty much a candidate most people in the district approve. Thus a reflection of everyone's overall (or at least most) voting preferences. IE: A district with a lot of centrists and conservatives would have a center right candidate or moderate as opposed to a 2 con, 2 moderates and 1 green or w/e in a MMP. In a MMP parties carve out these tiny quasi defacto districts within districts. that don't follow any legal borders.

  23. PTBO

    Your idea of MMP is a little different then my idea- there are many different ways to implement it. What country are you refering to in your comment?

    I could be wrong but my concept of MMP (at least how its been proposed in Canada) is that all the FPTP ridings would remain the same. And then you would get rid of the senate and replace them by 100 party list members that were selected on some sort of regional proportional formula. I don't think there could be any "sub-district" territory.

    Your description of MMP sounds very similar to my idea of STV which I would agree is a very bad voting system- and I voted "NO" on the referendum for STV twice. MMP is not some sort of prefect system but I think it is signifigantly better then our current system- when combined with the abolition of the Senate and the introduction of mandatory voting- I think you would see a very different political landscape in Canada. (Which is exactly why no ruling party would ever want to undertake democratic reform- only a electoral coalition could).

  24. Hentgen

    Coalitions are not inherently more democratic than FPTP.

    This is a typical fallacy among proponents for MMP: the simple fact that 50%+ of people voted for the ruling coalition parties does not mean that 1) all of the people voting for individual parties approve of their coalition partners, and 2) that this government will accurately reflect the preferences of its voters.

    Coalitions can give undue bargaining power to smaller parties, allowing them to exert more influence in government than is due to them through the vote because they provide the value to the leading coalition party.

    In addition, the process of coalition formation is also undemocratic: it is typically done AFTER the votes are counted and can result in outcomes not supported by the people. We even have a good Canadian example: while most Canadians would see a Liberal-NDP coalition as legitimate, most Canadians saw a coalition including the Bloc as entirely illegitimate.

    In the end, just because "50% +1" of people voted for the parties in power doesn't mean that the government has any more legitimacy than a system that typically sees 40-45% of voters support the government in power.

  25. Charles Dillon

    These might be good points about Garneau, if he was riding only on his experience as an astronaut as qualifying him for the job of PM. This is, of course, not the case. The man has made many astute observations on the economy and has a very rational approach to governing and the economy, thanks to his scientific background. He has made many of his policy ideas very clear, as well as how he plans to accomplish them.

    It's pretty hilarious how well J.J. fits the stereotype of your typical Poli-sci graduate who has no clue what people in the tech-sector, such as engineers, actually do (he confuses the role of electrical engineer and electrician in this very article!) or the great value that scientific thinking holds in almost any area of life, including government.

    It's equally hilarious how well he fits the stereotype of your typical Conservative who has no understanding of the importance of science and how essential scientific thinking is for any modern nation that wishes to succeed.

    In a time when our leader attempts to silence any scientist who's conclusions he doesn't like, we need a PM who can think scientifically and understands the many, many ways in which science is essential to our modern society.

  26. Jake_Ackers

    Well I don't see how conservative has anything to do with it. After all the entire concept of the free market is based on math and social science and observational science. Rather than just "oh we have no money for gov't programs! Oh I know, just take more from the people."

    And ny conservative I'm assuming you mean Canadian political right wing conservative. If JJ is has some misconceptions, I think its more due to the fact he is political scientist/pundit than anything.

    However, you do make my exact point. Garneau is knowledgeable enough to know how politics work as but not in it long enough to be part of the problem. Nor long enough to forget how the real world works. Frankly, I'm not left wing, nor Canadian. However, depending on who the Conservatives would run, if Garneau is still around, I would consider voting for him. That and I don't like this notion that Trudeau should be PM because his father was.

    Btw can someone explain to me what makes Trudeau more qualified than Garneu? Just because he is a politician's son and has a nice smile?

  27. Charles Dillon

    Sorry, I accidentally started a new thread with my response and can't remove it. Here it is in its proper place:

    Jake, "social sciences" aren't real science, in a similar way that "sanitation engineers" aren't real engineers. Social sciences either don't make full use of the scientific method or completely ignore it. You can distinguish between them as "soft science" and "hard science" if you like. The point is, the hard sciences are far more rigorous and demand far more intelligence, rationality, logic in order to understand. Precisely the reason why I think a man of science, like Garneau, would make a great leader.

    It seems like we agree on this matter, and I know that not every single conservative out there is anti-science, but you have to admit that the majority of North American right-wing politicians seem to have an increasing grudge against science and rational discourse.

    Trudeau is simply popular because people associate his name with either their memories of Pierre Trudeau, or what they learned about the former Prime Minister in school. I was born during the Mulroney years, long after Trudeau was Prime Minister, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't regaled with stories about the legend from my teachers and others who were around during his time in office. I don't buy into it, and think he was vastly overrated, but when people are told something over and over again enough times, they will often start believing it.

    In this case, the name "Trudeau" seems to be subconsciously associated with "legendary politician". In an age where we're told that we should "follow our gut" in favour of rational analysis, that's all it takes, it seems.

  28. Hentgen

    Charles, I'm someone with a BSc and a MSc in Applied Mathematics and an MA in Economics, on my way toward a PhD in Economics, and let me just stop you right now. I've spent a considerable time studying both "hard" and "soft" sciences, and I can tell you you're well off base.

    You make fun of JJ for not understanding science and then you go off explaining why "hard" science is more difficult to understand than "soft" science in a way that makes it clear you do not understand the challenges of social science — which is EXACTLY why it's completely valid to say "Why is an electrical engineer more qualified to run the country than a Lawyer?"

    To wit, "Jake, "social sciences" aren't real science."
    The reply: no, they are not. There is a simple reason: they CANNOT be. The driving force behind science is the scientific method. Put simply, it allows scientists to attempt to confirm theories by performing replicable experiments. These experiments are characterized by varying one parameter and seeing how it affects another, while holding everything else constant. This is how casual relationships are proven and discovered in science.

    "Social sciences either don't make full use of the scientific method or completely ignore it."
    That is because the classic scientific method is impossible to implement in the social sciences. No experiments can be perfectly replicated in social science. Experiments in sufficiently large scales are prohibitively costly and are often extremely risky: one cannot simply play with interest rates to see how the economy reacts. Likewise, one cannot simply separate twins at birth to study the effects of nature and nurture.

    But to say that they completely ignore it is ridiculous. There are few respected applied social scientists who "ignore" the scientific method. They are striving to implement it to their best abilities given the inherent limitations of the subject matter they study.

    "the hard sciences are far more rigorous and demand far more intelligence, rationality, logic in order to understand."
    In fact, your conclusion lacks intelligence, rationality or logic. Due to the inherent limitations of the scientific method when applied to the social sciences, it is logical to conclude that its study is *more* difficult than that of science. To be able to make substantive insights or predictions with regards to social matters, social scientists must display a level of ingenuity that physical scientists do not.

    They must be able to navigate and cut through the noise of people's rationalizations and fake explanations to be able to see the real driving forces of people's behavior in order to form theories or predictions of individual or aggregate behavior. This is a substantial challenge that is not required to be overcome in science.

    It demands for statistical and methodological techniques that are unnecessary for the physical sciences, and in fact social scientists are on the forefront of statistical analysis, particularly in economics, and methodology, particularly in psychology and sociology. These fields were pioneered by the social scientists precisely because regular scientists never had a clue that these approaches were needed.

    It's for these reasons that it's perfectly valid to question the relevance of scientific knowledge in the realm of governance. And, it's the arrogance of scientists that you've displayed that makes them, frankly, dangerous to have in power.

    If you think the social sciences are easy, then you're about to be in for a rude awakening in office.

  29. Charles Dillon

    I understand that you can't really carry out experiments on a lot of the social sciences. That really is the problem, isn't it? In the social sciences, you're rarely told that you're flat out, unforgivably wrong. Instead, you're often told that you should have better argued your point, regardless of how illogical or how little evidence there is for your position.

    This is not the case for the hard sciences and math, and you know it. In math, no matter how well you argue that 2+2=5, you are wrong. In science, no matter how eloquently you argue that E=MC^3, you are wrong.

    I'm not saying that social science is completely worthless and that all of its students are idiots, but c'mon. If you really are a math major, you know very well that mathematics requires a level of intellectual rigour that you can get through the social sciences without.

    What "arrogance of scientists" are you even talking about? It sounds like you have some kind of deep-seated resentment towards scientists, and I'm not really sure why.

  30. Hentgen

    "I understand that you can't really carry out experiments on a lot of the social sciences. That really is the problem, isn't it?"
    Yes, that's the primary challenge of social science. That's what makes it more difficult than regular science. That's what makes it require a different type of rigor completely unknown to scientists.

    You can be the most logical, rational person in the world who does the most rigorous analysis ever conceived and still get an R^2 of 50%. In fact, one would argue that a R-squared that was too high in social science was simply over-fitting the model to the data. That's a problem that a physicist wouldn't usually have to consider.

    A really important point I'm trying to make here is that the "certainty" of science is not the same as being "intellectually rigourous." Science and mathematics may be better at teaching people how to approach problems, but not because they are more difficult, but they consider subjects with clearly defined lines of cause and effect, while approaching a social science questions that have a lot of "unobservables" that add noise to those connections.

    Social science has the danger of people falling to the mainstay "well, that's my OPINION," but that "fall back" argument only really holds sway in amateur conversations. There are a lot of armchair economists who claim to have all the answers. Those aren't representative at all of what the field is like among those active in research. They annoy me. Just about as much as people who've read A Brief History of Time and philosophize about physics annoy me. At least I have the good sense to know they're not representative of physicists.

    "If you really are a math major, you know very well that mathematics requires a level of intellectual rigour that you can get through the social sciences without."
    You're asking about "arrogance of scientists" and this is precisely it. You may be somewhat familiar with undergraduate level social science, which, for some fields, is not as "rigourous" as undergraduate level mathematics or science (and that's only if you've never sat through an upper-level course on game theory or macroeconomics.) You then extrapolate to academic or graduate-level social science and you are wrong. You clearly know nothing about that level of social science research, yet you claim to "know" for certainty. That's arrogance.

    At higher levels, rigor is everything. The whole pursuit of academic social science requires you to defend your ideas, provide evidence to support why your ideas hold merit and analyse and interpret the value of your fellow's ideas. It's not a matter of charisma, as you're presenting your thoughts to highly intelligent people. If you can't show substance, you won't have a career in social science research.

    You equate "rigor" to simply well-established rules of convention. 2+2 doesn't equal 5 because of underlying assumptions made by mathematicians. You can say a lot of things in social science if you make assumptions and fix unknown moving parts. The problem often is, then, whether those assumptions are valid. What ways, if any, can we "test" competing assumptions? Is a model not valid if we cannot? The "rigor" of social science comes from asking and answering those types of questions, which is simply different than those asked of scientists.

    "It sounds like you have some kind of deep-seated resentment towards scientists, and I'm not really sure why."
    Ah, so some amateur psychology then, huh? First of all, back when I was focused on Math, I shared your eye-rolling attitude to "soft" science, but the truth was that I never seriously thought about how difficult the problems social scientists face nor did I know anything how much work they've done in areas of statistical and mathematical importance to bring some sense of "rigor" to a very difficult field of study.

    That's the "arrogance" that I mean. To dismiss a field of study without actually understanding what they do. You have it.

  31. Charles Dillon

    Jake, "social sciences" aren't real science, in a similar way that "sanitation engineers" aren't real engineers. Social sciences either don't make full use of the scientific method or completely ignore it. You can distinguish between them as "soft science" and "hard science" if you like. The point is, the hard sciences are far more rigorous and demand far more intelligence, rationality, logic in order to understand. Precisely the reason why I think a man of science, like Garneau, would make a great leader.

    It seems like we agree on this matter, and I know that not every single conservative out there is anti-science, but you have to admit that the majority of North American right-wing politicians seem to have an increasing grudge against science and rational discourse.

    Trudeau is simply popular because people associate his name with either their memories of Pierre Trudeau, or what they learned about the former Prime Minister in school. I was born during the Mulroney years, long after Trudeau was Prime Minister, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't regaled with stories about the legend from my teachers and others who were around during his time in office. I don't buy into it, and think he was vastly overrated, but when people are told something over and over again enough times, they will often start believing it.

    In this case, the name "Trudeau" seems to be subconsciously associated with "legendary politician". In an age where we're told that we should "follow our gut" in favour of rational analysis, that's all it takes, it seems.