The secret to Justin Trudeau’s popularity: Thomas Mulcair

Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire
Why is Justin Trudeau so popular?

If you believe the latest polls, a Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party would win a majority government in the next election with over 40 per cent of the popular vote.

Curiously, despite the lack of any substantive policies, Canadians seem ready to hand the keys for 24 Sussex to Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau's speech at the Liberal Party's leadership showcase on Saturday was certainly a crowd-pleasing event.

[ Related: Justin Trudeau calls for Liberal leadership, ready to fight back against Conservatives ]

He was animated and articulate. He hit on important points defending himself against critiques about his lack of substance and about his inexperience. And he even took some shots at Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But a closer look at what he actually said might leave you scratching your head.

If we work hard and stay optimistic, we will put forward an irresistible alternative to the Conservatives 30 months from now. Irresistible not because it is Liberal, but because it will be 100 per cent undeniably Canadian.

...Hope, my friends, yes. Always hope. But more than that. Hope and hard work.

Ahem, 'irresistible'?

And what is it with Conservative attacks on teachers? They’ve never met a teacher they wouldn’t pick a fight with. I am fiercely proud to be one of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who belong to the teaching profession. And let me tell you this, my friends, this teacher fully intends to fight back.

How exactly is the Harper government attacking teachers?

I have met, talked with, and learned from more Canadians in the past six months than Mr. Harper has in the past six years.

Really?

To be fair to Trudeau, he can talk in platitudes and about 'big picture' things because that's all he has to do to win the leadership. Policy can come later.

But why are Canadians telling pollsters that if an election were held today, they would vote for the Justin Trudeau Liberals? Is it because of his hair? His 'charisma'? His looks? Because of his father?

Call me an optimist, but I don't think Canadians are that electorally irresponsible.

It appears the anti-Harper crowd — the 60 to 70 per cent of Canadians who will either never vote for the Tories or are tired of the seven-year-old government — are looking for someone to rally around.

At this point they have two choices: Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair.

Unfortunately for the NDP, Mulcair has had a mediocre first year as leader and hasn't really excited the masses. He's no Jack Layton and he's certainly no Justin Trudeau in terms of his ability to connect with people.

[ Related: Thomas Mulcair's so so first year as NDP leader ]

And, while he may be an opposite of Harper when it comes to ideology, he's not opposite enough when it comes to leadership style.

Mulcair, at times, has come across as calculated and scripted. Some have called him crusty and angry. Moreover, he appears to have a firm grasp on his caucus: the leader's office calls the shots and sets the agenda. Sound familiar?

Trudeau will have to — at some point — put forward a platform and defend it.

But for now, for the majority of the anti-Harperites, the thing Trudeau has going for him is that he's not in the mold of Mulcair.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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