Mulroney, Day and the business community: Justin Trudeau earns praise from unlikely sources

Andy Radia
·Politics Reporter

As Liberals get set to elect Justin Trudeau as their new leader, there are some heavy hitters coming to his defence over criticisms that he's more sizzle than steak.

One of the more surprising defenders is none other than former Tory Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

"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?," Mulroney said while speaking to CTV News on Tuesday.

"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. "

The praise from Mulroney was a little surprising because Mulroney was clearly not a fan of Pierre.

[ Related: 4 former prime ministers, 4 rebukes of Stephen Harper's foreign policy ]

Mulroney's comments echoed those of former Conservative Reform Alliance leader Stockwell Day.

"I got to know him — obviously we were fellow MPs. I have a lot of respect for him. He is genuinely a nice guy," Day told Yahoo! Canada News in a telephone interview last month.

"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."

[ Related: Yahoo! Exclusive: A Liberal-NDP alliance is inevitable, Stockwell Day predicts ]

If the former Tory accolades don't surprise you, then maybe this headline will: 'Justin Trudeau might be better for business than Stephen Harper'

That's the cover story in the latest issue of the Canadian Business Magazine.

"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," the article's author James Cowan wrote.

"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."

The underlying message seems to be: Don't underestimate Justin Trudeau.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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