Justin Trudeau: The Peter Pan Prime Minister

trudeau-supermanJ.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel, Peter Pan, is about a boy who never grows up. He is described as “perfectly lovely”, “dreadfully ignorant”, and loves “showing off.”1 The character of Peter is not unlike Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. Similar to Peter, Trudeau is strikingly handsome, lacks basic knowledge and loves to be the center of attention.

Justin Trudeau craves the media spotlight. Capitalizing on his good looks and personal charm, he has taken selfies with thousands of Canadians, more than any politician in Canadian history.2 In 2015, the Liberal Party made Trudeau’s penchant for selfies part of their election strategy by selling selfie sticks with the party logo on them.3 One of Trudeau’s most infamous selfies is when he posed for a photo with a topless young woman at Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade.4 Trudeau takes selfies not just as a courtesy to someone who requests a photo, but as a deliberate strategy to capture media and public attention.

In addition to selfies, Justin Trudeau seeks media attention by wearing costumes in public. On his February 2018 trip to India, he wore a series of traditional Indian suits, even dressing as a bridegroom for a wedding, for which he was widely ridiculed.5 In 2017, he appeared in the House of Commons dressed like Clark Kent and unbuttoned his dress shirt to reveal a Superman T-shirt.6 At a 2017 NATO meeting in Brussels, he showed off a mismatched pair of coloured socks.7 Seeking media attention by wearing flamboyant clothing is not the behavior of a statesman. Like a Hollywood celebrity, Trudeau wears costumes to increase his popularity with younger voters.

Trudeau’s flamboyant style distracts Canadians from his lack of substance. Case in point: As Canada’s chief lawmaker, he doesn’t know what the nation’s laws are. Mary Dawson, the former Ethics Commissioner, found that Trudeau violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act by receiving free vacations to a private island in the Bahamas from the Aga Khan, whose private foundation was registered to lobby the government.8 Trudeau’s defense was that “it wasn’t considered that there would be an issue there.”9 In other words, he didn’t know that accepting gifts from someone who lobbies the government was illegal. A Prime Minister who breaks the law because he is ignorant of the law is incompetent.

Justin Trudeau doesn’t perform the normal duties of a Prime Minister. In her report on Trudeau’s ethics violations, Dawson said that Trudeau sees his role as Prime Minister as “ceremonial in nature” and that he doesn’t have business meetings with his cabinet ministers, but rather “relationship sessions.”10 Trudeau has given full authority to his cabinet ministers to make major decisions. This suggests that he doesn’t have the knowledge and/or ability to do his job.

Stephen Harper was right: Justin Trudeau is “just not ready”, and he never will be.11 A former drama teacher, Justin is an actor on a stage who is “pretending” to be Prime Minister. Rather than leading the country, he represents the country, the male equivalent of Miss Canada. The son of Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, Justin was able to ride on the coattails of his father’s last name and win the 2015 election. If Canadians elect him again in 2019, it will show that in the age of the Internet, style is more important than substance.


  1. M. Barrie, Peter Pan (Collins Classics, 2015), 7, 23, 35.
  2. Terry Pedwell, “’Selfies’ a new mainstay on election campaign trail,” CTV News, September 28, 2015, https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/election/selfies-a-new-mainstay-on-election-campaign-trail-1.2583928
  3. “Selfie Stick,” Botique Liberal, accessed March 6, 2018, https://boutique.liberal.ca/shop/accessories/selfie-stick/
  4. Katie Underwood, “Justin Trudeau posed with a topless woman — hooray!,” Chatelaine, August 6, 2015, http://www.chatelaine.com/living/justin-trudeau-posed-with-a-topless-woman-hooray/
  5. “Justin Trudeau’s ‘Bollywood’ wardrobe amuses Indians,” BBC News, February 22, 2018, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-43151115
  6. “Justin Trudeau: The Mr. Dressup prime minister,” Macleans, February 24, 2018, http://www.macleans.ca/multimedia/photo/the-mr-dressup-prime-minister/
  7. Vanessa Friedman, “Justin Trudeau’s Sock Diplomacy,” New York Times, June 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/fashion/socks-justin-trudeau-canada.html
  8. Catharine Tunney, “Trudeau ‘sorry’ for violating conflict laws with visits to Aga Khan’s island,” CBC News, December 20, 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-ethics-aga-khan-1.4458220
  9. Alex Boutilier and Bruce Campion-Smith, “Trudeau violated multiple conflict laws when he accepted family holiday to Aga Khan’s island: ethics commissioner,” Toronto Star, December 20, 2017, https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/12/20/trudeau-violated-conflict-of-interest-rules-with-vacation-to-aga-khans-island-ethics-commissioner-says.html
  10. “This Is How Justin Trudeau Sees His Job, According To Ethics Report.” Huffington Post, December 26, 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/12/26/this-is-how-justin-trudeau-sees-his-job-according-to-ethics-report_a_23317053/
  11. “The Interview,” YouTube, accessed March 20, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c86-9HitWg0

This Op-Ed was originally published in The Post Millennial.