Justin Trudeau better at pop culture than Parliament: Menon

Justin Trudeau was not elected to be a pop-culture dynamo.

But here we are, about 18 months after the federal election, and our Prime Minister is most certainly our Prime Celebrity. At the Juno Awards on Sunday night, the first blast of teen screaming echoed in the opening skit, when Trudeau was depicted phoning co-host Bryan Adams with a special request.

“Can you play ‘Summer of ’69’?” he asked. “I love that song.”

Joined by wife Sophie Grégoire, Trudeau also showed up later in the broadcast, introducing a tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. Just before strolling on stage, cameras caught him clutching a mic and belting out a Blue Rodeo classic:

“Yeah, if we’re lost/ Then we are lost together.”

Trudeau was all over the news this weekend for everything except governing.

On Saturday, April Fool’s Day, he issued a fake challenge to Matthew Perry after the Friends actor raised eyebrows last month by confessing to Jimmy Kimmel that he once “beat up” Trudeau when the two were classmates in Ottawa.

“I’ve been giving it some thought, and you know what, who hasn’t wanted to punch Chandler?” tweeted Trudeau. “How about a rematch @MatthewPerry?”

This was a joke. But if Perry had not politely declined — “@JustinTrudeau I think I will pass at your request for a rematch kind sir (given that you currently have an army at your disposal),” he tweeted on Sunday — is it really a stretch to imagine a PR-driven escalation in mock hostilities ending with a charity boxing match that, once again, showcases Trudeau’s celebrity instincts?

It is not, because Trudeau’s celebrity instincts are now his dominant trait.

Whether he’s squiring Ivanka Trump to Come From Away on Broadway or filming a testimonial for CBC’s Canada: The Story of Us, Trudeau’s embrace of entertainment as a branding vehicle outpaces any former prime minister. In an age of selfies and social media, against a backdrop of sound bites and photo-ops, he’s a natural: a purported do-gooder who looks good in the spotlight.

That is, until the house lights come on and you wonder if we are lost together.

Supporters will argue Trudeau is a blessing to Canada, a superstar on the world stage who earns glowing praise and an attention we’re not used to getting. He’s name-checked by Hollywood elite, he’s deified by Vogue, he can hijack the news just by removing his shirt or levitating in a yoga pose.

But this is an argument based on image. Any argument based on substance, which is chiefly a domestic concern, can’t possibly be so favourable, as Trudeau cements his celebrity status at the expense of preventing campaign promises from cracking up.

If governing is like parenting, Trudeau is now showing up for family movie night and birthday parties, but skipping the parts that involve helping with homework or contributing to an RESP. He talks a good game about culture even as he fails to deliver on a promise to increase funding for Telefilm and the National Film Board of Canada. Other cultural vows remain “in progress,” but given the number of broken promises so far — on deficits, electoral reform, refugee targets — Trudeau’s early track record should not warrant absolute faith.

The nexus of entertainment and politics is not new. But what we are now witnessing on both sides of the border are leaders who are largely playing roles. In this sense, Donald Trump and Trudeau are more alike than either’s camp might care to admit. They are both fixated with the extracurricular parts of their jobs, the parts that involve waltzing into the spotlight.

Personally, I think both Canada and the United States should elect two candidates every election cycle: one who can serve as a brand ambassador and be the celebrity. And the other who is happier to govern in the shadows of wonkish anonymity, where policy itself is the star of the show.

So Trudeau is at something of a crossroads. If he continues down the current path, as a brand ambassador for both himself and a Canadian idealism he may or may not help advance, he’ll be doing cameos in movies. He’ll be immortalized on (more) comic-book covers. He’ll have flavours of ice cream named after him. He’ll be a crossword clue, a pal to the rich and famous, a TV narrator, a matinee idol, a cutter of giant ribbons, an archetype in Cosmo sex quizzes, a fixture on red carpets, a magazine cover boy, a fashion icon, an inspiration for songs and an international object of fascination.

What he will not be is a prime minister who made a difference.

Go to Source