How positive campaigning propelled a "not ready" Justin Trudeau to power in Canada

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 12:37am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 October, 2015, 12:37am

Canada's prime minister-elect, Justin Trudeau, is proof that politicians, no matter how inexperienced they may seem, should never be written off at election time. His political standing compared to incumbent Conservative leader Stephen Harper made him a natural target of an advertising blitz telling Canadians he was "not ready".

But strategic campaigning, strong debate performances and a positive message to voters ensured a landslide win that has given his previously flagging Liberal Party a majority in Parliament. With victory has come a sense of political maturity and a hope that he can deliver on promises.

Harper, 56, had been prime minister for nine years, two more than Trudeau, 43, had been in Parliament. Name recognition played a part, Trudeau's iconic father, Pierre, having held the premiership almost continuously between 1968 and 1984. But that alone did not swing the result; winning requires being able to connect with voters.

The Liberals had been all but declared dead as a political force when the younger Trudeau took the helm in 2013. Through fund-raising, the advice of American political strategists, recruiting electable candidates and embracing new technology, they put the party back in contention.

Harper had been criticised for his controlling approach to government and stand on issues like Canada's involvement in the fight against Islamic State, the Syrian refugee crisis and the wearing of Muslim veils. Trudeau capitalised through positive campaigning that undermined the Conservatives and outflanked the second-ranked New Democrats.

A challenging list of campaign pledges lie ahead. Among them are promises to cut taxes for the middle class while raising those for the top 1 per cent of earners, substantially boost spending on infrastructure to stimulate the sluggish economy and repair frayed relations with the US.

Canadians have determined Trudeau is ready for higher office and through offering hope, given him a strong mandate to govern.