On Tuesday morning in a near-empty café at Toronto’s Bell Lightbox building on King Street, I interviewed Justin Trudeau.
It’s been a little over two years since I spoke at any length with the Liberal leader. The last time, in 2012, breakfast at Ottawa’s Château Laurier led to a Maclean’s cover story making what felt then like an eccentric suggestion: that Liberals should make Trudeau their next leader. They did, and a lot has happened, and it’s time for Maclean’s readers to catch up with the man whose party has now led national polls for 16 consecutive months.
Trudeau’s next year will be dedicated to closing the deal with Canadian voters — or becoming the fourth consecutive Liberal leader to blow it. Trudeau said he has been planning for an election since he ran for the Liberal leadership, and that since the Conservatives started running TV ads criticizing him the day after he became the leader and have never stopped, “the campaign started a long time ago.”
But when MPs return to Parliament in September, it will be just over a year before the October 2015 election. Human nature being what it is, that will mean a solid year of pre-writ positioning by every party. “It’s pretty much non-stop between now and the election,” Trudeau told me.
In a far-ranging discussion Trudeau took questions on budgeting, tax rates, the middle class, marijuana, Montreal mosques and the possibility that he could face somebody besides Stephen Harper as the leader of the Conservatives in 2015. What emerged was the outline, not of an electoral strategy, but of a plan for Liberal government. Of course it’ll be up to voters to decide whether that happens. In the meantime, Trudeau’s Maclean’s interview offers the most detailed indication yet of how he would run a federal government.
The full transcript of our interview is available in the digital edition of Maclean’s. It’s free now if you follow this link.