Mulcair was enjoying this. “Yeah,” he said, almost amused, waving his hands dismissively. “Give us a number.”
I enjoy this article.
Whether this was a prepped-for moment by Team Trudeau debate prep (the length of time it took to get to that answer suggests otherwise) or no, it's a cool moment.
It's a political truth that you don't have to answer the question put before you - instead, you can pivot to the safer ground of your talking points. The problem with this is that pivot-and-message is so damned insincere. Yeah, it helps keep your message clear and minimizes your risk exposure, but in the field of life and leadership, that's not how things actually work.
Sometimes, you need the ability to think on your feet, to adapt to a situation, to take a risk. It's in situations like this that a person's true "character" is expected to emerge.
Additionally, it's when your opponents think they have you cornered that you have the chance to throw curve balls. This can be trained for, a bit, but by and large the ability and instinct to think laterally is simply part of who you are.
Asked a question riddled with landmines, Trudeau's first instinct was to play safe - but, when cornered, he moved laterally. He didn't pivot and pull out a canned rebuttle; he applied what he knew and took off in a different direction.
Time and again, this ability to change the game has gotten us - parties, countries, society in general - out of downward spirals, out of ruts and over the obstacles before us, be it paratroopers or peacekeepers.
This is the ability of innovation. It doesn't play the math, it doesn't carve out a critical path - it recognizes the landscape, has knowledge of what came before and is able to see things from a different angle and shift the game.
Trudeau has this.
Trudeau also has something of a totalitarian streak in him (which hardly sets him apart from his competitors or many leadership aspirants in general).
Harper might have poo-pooed Trudeau's China comment, but the truth is Harper has done everything he can to make himself Canada's Putin-light, an alpha who accepts no challenge to his authority and sees any idea not his as inferior and banal. This approach hasn't served Canada well - our politics has gotten uglier, our economic policy has become more singular and short-sighted, information has been lost, crucial services cut, the public service undermined.
We don't need more of that. What we need is what Trudeau promised way back when:
Certainly, there are early signs Trudeau intends to try something unusual: His stump speech is explicitly anti-ideological. His senior people speak about crafting “post-partisan” policy. Behind the scenes they are quietly but deliberately reaching across party lines in a search for ideas. “I’m not sure I would characterize us a left-leaning,” says Telford. “If there’s a good idea that’s traditionally seen as right … we’re all pretty open-minded people. (Solutions) need to be results-driven, and evidence-driven.”
Does Trudeau have it within himself to be that kind of leader - the philosopher king/benevolent dictator?
Of course he doesn't. He's a pugilist, and the more his role gets framed as about him, the more it will go to his (and his inner circle's) head.
So, no more talk of being Canada's next CEO, people. Walk the walk. Be innovative, be high-minded, be all of that - but remember it ain't about you. You don't have all the ideas and it is not a weakness to listen to others.
Everyone I know from Team Trudeau has, at one time or another, rejected the "we are smart, they are dumb" mentality all-too pervasive in party politics. Yet every one of them has embodied that attitude in their approach.
If they win - still a big if, especially where GOTV is concerned - then they will have both the opportunity and responsibility to be the first to truly reject the top-down status quo and be the conduits we need them to be.
Of course, that's what Harper promised too, and look how quickly he lost his way.
Be Open, Team Trudeau - open gov, open data, open source. Be innovative - go off in different directions, nurture those instincts in your leader - but also build partnerships across the aisle and out into society beyond. Trust the public service.
Above all, though, be mindful. Power is a heady tonic, but it is equally a poison that will bleach your ethics without you even noticing.