Year in Review 2015: Canada's top questions about Trudeau

Andrew Seale
Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau in Vogue (Norman Jean Roy/Vogue)

It’s like a Trudeaumania part deux, a digital generation version of the sweeping wave of support former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau experienced when he first took a crack at office in the late 1960s but this time, the interest is pointed at his son and Canada’s newest Prime Minister. 

With conversations ranging from his looks – “the sexiest political dynasty since the Kennedys” according to the U.K. Mirror – to the BBC’s musings about Trudeau’s tattoo, the youthful Canadian Prime Minister has drawn no shortage of intrigue since he entered office in October. 

As part of our Year in Review, we take a look at the ten most searched-for Trudeau factoids. 

10. What is Justin Trudeau’s tattoo? 

(Photo: The Canadian Press)

Really, the people want to know, what is it our new Prime Minister felt so passionate about that he was completely willing to disregard what people would think when they saw it on his wedding day, er… swearing in ceremony. Oh, it’s an earth, with a raven around it. Which, as it turns out is a highly Canadian tattoo to grace a prime ministerial bicep when you hear the backstory. 

The earth, Trudeau got at 23 and the raven, designed by renowned Haida artist Robert Davidson was added at 40. But the meaning is deeper than the first nation iconography. In 1976, during Trudeau’s father Pierre’s second term, the family was made honorary members of the Haida tribe. 

Since taking office, both international and Canadian media alike have dug into Canada’s newest Prime Minister’s ink. The highlight – GQ called it “badass.”  

9. Trudeau’s acceptance speech

It’s impossible to watch Trudeau’s acceptance speech without invoking echoes of President Obama’s first campaign. The parallels are undeniable – charismatic, fresh-faced leader ousting a conservatively minded party, and then, of course, the use of the word “change” as the dominating symbol. 

 “I didn’t make history tonight, you did. And don’t let anyone tell you any differently,” says the newly minted leader set behind a red and white “Real Change Now” marquee. “I know that I am on stage tonight for one reason and one reason only because you put me here.”

Canadian’s piqued interest in Trudeau’s acceptance is likely fuelled by the Liberals return to power from a third place, outsider party status and, of course, his charismatic approach to ending “divisive politics” with “real change”.

8. How old was Pierre Trudeau when he became PM?

Pierre Trudeau is saluted by RCMP Officer as he carries son Justin to Rideau Hall in 1973. (The Canadian Press)

Trudeau’s father Pierre was 48 when he arrived in office on the back of a manic and galvanized Trudeaumania led by a cohort of young voters in 1968.

7. Pictures of Margaret Trudeau 

Along with curiosity around Trudeau’s father’s age, searches for photos of our Prime Minister’s mother Margaret also made the list. While it’s safe to say no one was likely searching for pictures of Harper’s mom, there’s a reason why Margaret drew intrigue.

Margaret was 18 and vacationing in Tahiti when the elder Trudeau, Pierre, caught sight of her and fell in love. Nearly 30 years her senior, Pierre married her three years later while in office. The age difference – Margaret was 22 at the time and Pierre 51 – raised some eyebrows but given the flamboyant Prime Minister was a bachelor, Canadians eventually warmed to their new first lady.

The marriage, on the other hand, disintegrated over time with Margaret having an affair with U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and partying with Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones.

6. Who are the first kids? Ella-Grace, Xavier and Hadrien Trudeau

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's son Xavier, daughter Ella-Grace and son Hadrien. (The Canadian Press)

A quick search of Prime Minister Trudeau’s young family shows they ended the election evening playing with lightsabers which suggests to some people (this writer included) that we are witnessing the training of a next generation of Trudeau’s who will likely guide us through the dark days of whatever future galactic empire might attempt to wrestle control from our current leader. For those who haven’t seen the documentary of our future known as Star Wars, the search results probably just suggest that that the former schoolteacher-turned-Prime Minister has three kids Xavier, eight, Ella-Grace, six, and Hadrien, one.

5. Who is Alexandre Trudeau?

Alexandre Trudeau seen in 2004. (Canadian Press)

The curiosity surrounding Trudeau’s family and brother Alexandre is unsurprising given the family is the country’s first Federal dynasty. At 41, Alexandre, a journalist and filmmaker, is the younger brother of our current Prime Minister. 

Affectionately known by his nickname “Sacha”, he has avoided politics other than the occasional outcry such as his opposition of intervention in Afghanistan, lambasting the Israeli blockage of Gaza and authoring a positive editorial on Fidel Castro for the Toronto Star.

At the moment, the majority of Alexandre’s politics are told from behind the lens via his documentary work at the helm of Juju Films.

4. Michel Trudeau’s funeral

The death of Trudeau’s youngest brother Michel in 1998 was a defining moment for the politician and his family

Michel, 23, was working at Red Mountain Resort and living in Rossland, British Columbia. He and a couple friends took a backcountry skiing trip in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park and the youngest Trudeau was swept into Kokanee Lake by an avalanche, drowning before he could be recovered.

In an editorial for the Toronto Star last year, Trudeau wrote that: “the lights began to dim in my father’s soul when Michel died.”

“From the time we buried Michel until his own passing two years later, my father was never the same man,” he continued.

3. How old is Justin Trudeau?

Justin Trudeau aging over time (GIF by Florent Conti)

During the campaign the Conservative party released a video showing a group of individuals evaluating Trudeau as though he’s applied for a job. Their consensus: he’s “Just Not Ready”. But he has nice hair, though.

It’s a clever tactic, and a theme that seemed to run throughout the campaign that at 43, Trudeau might be a bit too young for a serious role like leading a country. But he’s actually not the youngest Prime Minister; at 39 years of age when he entered office Conservative Joe Clark takes that honour (a fun tidbit – Clark defeated Trudeau’s father Pierre).

2. What was the Trudeau wedding like?

Justin Trudeau and bride Sophie Gregoire on their wedding day, May 28, 2005. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Trudeau met his wife to be Sophie Grégoire in 2003, while the pair co-hosted the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ball fundraiser for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Two years later, the pair married at Sainte-Madeleine d’Outremont church in Old Montreal, in a ceremony surrounded by 180 friends. Post-wedding, the newly anointed Mr. and Mrs. Trudeau saddled up in father Pierre’s, iconic 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL and headed to an ultra-Canadian reception complete with “Alberta beef and local cheeses and organic vegetables, and a range of musical acts including a gospel singer, a Brazilian band and a club deejay for late-night dancing.”

“No cake!” Grégoire told Maclean’s (http://www.chatelaine.com/living/politics/when-justin-met-sophie/). “I find that people never eat it. You take this tacky picture cutting the cake. So I said, ‘No! Let’s do something different!’ ”

1. Who is Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau?

Sophie Gregoire, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (The Canadian Press)

Which brings us to the number one searched Trudeau, the lovely eTalk reporter-turned-first lady and philanthropist Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. Despite being part of Canada’s first political dynasty, Grégoire-Trudeau has her own well-established career from personal shopper at Holt Renfrew to a five year stint on eTalk and an endless string of speaking engagements and charity functions in between.

In 2006, Grégoire-Trudeau travelled with mother-in-law Margaret to Ethiopia as part of a charitable trip to build wells. In addition to water causes, Grégoire-Trudeau’s philanthropic work runs the gamut from being a national ambassador for Plan Canada’s “Because I am a Girl” initiative to working with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Dove Pay Beauty Forward and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

She also is a certified yoga instructor focused on children’s yoga classes and, yes, according to the New York Post she is “the hottest first lady in the world.”