On the balance sheet of life, Justin Trudeau has a few noteworthy items on the asset side, not the least of which is the fact that he is the eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, possibly the most widely loved and respected of all Canadian heads of state.
Trudeau settles comfortably into a soft couch, long jeans-clad legs stretched out, leather jacket casually open, and pauses, locking eyes. “I have been extremely fortunate in the things that I have been able to do, and the things I have been able to see, and continue to be fortunate, in that when I speak, people listen,” he says deliberately. Beat. “And that comes with a big responsibility to make sure that what I’m saying is actually worth listening to.”
When Trudeau talks, he’s all there, complete with hard eye contact. Not a problem for someone who grew up occasionally breaking bread with kings, queens, prime ministers and presidents. Plus, he can speak without a script if need be. Small wonder, then, that press and pundits speculate on whether Trudeau might throw his hat into the political ring.
No surprise, either, when Trudeau was cast by accomplished and prolific filmmaker Brian McKenna in the role of Talbot Papineau in The Great War, his upcoming epic four-hour TV miniseries. The open call to cast 150 actual descendants of WWI vets was McKenna’s brainchild. “But there are no male descendants of Papineau, so I needed someone who was bilingual, in his thirties and charismatic. Trudeau was a natural, in so many ways,” explains McKenna. And, he adds, Trudeau clearly felt an affinity for the role of Papineau: a Montreal lawyer, who spoke out for a Canadian constitution. It was eventually Trudeau’s father who united Canada with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Papineau strongly opposed Quebec nationalism, and recently Trudeau has gone on record saying, “The idea of a nation for Quebec stands against everything my father ever believed in.” Also, had he not been killed by a direct hit in the Battle of Passchendaele, Papineau likely would have had a career as a politician. He was killed in 1917, at age 35. Trudeau is now 35.