Who Is Justin Trudeau? Four Stories About Canada’s Next Prime Minister

While we Americans were busy debating the latest in Joe Biden’s will-he-or-won’t-he status and trying to keep track of just how many Republicans are still in the race, Canada went ahead and elected* their next Prime Minister. So who is the soon-to-be resident of 24 Sussex?

Justin Trudeau, the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, is a boxer, a self-described feminist, and a former high school teacher. He’s also “young, handsome, [and] charismatic,” according to The New York Times. He’ll be the second-youngest Prime Minister in Canadian history and the very first to follow a parent into office (his father was former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, making him the scion of Canada’s only political dynasty). But those are just the headlines; together, these four stories help paint a richer picture of the man who will soon lead our northern neighbors.

*Note: Canadians don’t actually elect their Prime Ministers, they only vote for members of Parliament. A person becomes Prime Minister by being the leader of the party that wins the most parliamentary seats in a federal election.

1. “In a Father’s Political Footsteps, but More Uphill” (Ian Austen, The New York Times, April 2013)

This relatively brief profile from The New York Times makes for a good introductory course, particularly for Americans who aren’t otherwise familiar with Canadian politics.

2. “Inside Justin Trudeau’s War Room” (Daniel LeBlanc, The Globe and Mail, March 2013)

This story, also from 2013, drops us into the mise-en-scène of Canada’s Liberal leadership race in the weeks before Trudeau beat out seven rivals to take the helm of what was then a “badly hobbled, third-place party.”

3. “The Justin Trudeau I Can’t Forget” (Jonathan Kay, The Walrus, September 2015)

Kay, who worked as an editorial assistant on Trudeau’s memoir (a task that involved extensive interviewing of Trudeau himself, as well as conversations with his relatives, colleagues, and close friends), looks at how the emotional agony of his mother’s abandonment shaped the future Prime Minister. Kay is admittedly playing pop psychologist, but he does so with grace, insight, and a true knack for detail.

4. “Meet the Man Who Made His Friend the Next Prime Minister” (Martin Patriquin, Maclean’s, September 2015)

All politicians have their right hand operatives, and we would be remiss if we didn’t also investigate the man-behind-the-man. In Trudeau’s case, that man is Gerald Butts, a James Joyce-loving son of a coal miner who has been one of the future Prime Minister’s closest friends since college. As Trudeau’s “near-sole personal and political minder,” Butts’s influence is profound.