After nearly a decade of conservative rule, Canada finally got the "hope and change" memo. The dramatic takeover by the Labour Party following the October 19th election was a long time coming; the conservative stronghold in flyover provinces like Manitoba and Alberta was perceived as too out of touch with the rest of the country. No one was more alienated by the status quo than the Maritimes, who already felt marginalized and because of federal budget cuts, even more so. As a result, the minority party rode the wave of dissatisfaction and garnered 184 seats --er, "ridings"-- for a new majority government.
Amidst the hoopla was the birth of the Great White North's first political dynasty. Justin Trudeau, son of progressive demigod Pierre Trudeau and actress/bon vivant Margaret Trudeau, is the face of modern liberal Canadian politics and the youngest prime minister in recent memory. (Only right-wing placeholder Joe Clark was younger.) In his victory speech, Trudeau the Younger said: "We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work. We beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together." If that's not from the Obama 2008 playbook, I don't know what is.
So what happens to our northerly neighbor now? Even though Canada is perceived as generally being more liberal than the US, politically they're just as polarized as we are. Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper kept a steady hand for nine years, his greatest achievement being his navigation of the Canadian economy after the worldwide crisis of late 2008/early 2009. Unfortunately, Harper overstayed his welcome --scandals dogged his political party, and he was utterly feckless with commodity markets-- and a new voice was needed. Harper was painted as paranoid and xenophobic (not inaccurate) in the wake of a terrorist attack in Ottawa, but to call him a tyrant was a bit much. Here's hoping the young, optimistic Mr. Trudeau will offer more levelheaded leadership.