Just who is Justin Trudeau and why is the world talking about him? Apart from the fact that he’s the next prime minister of Canada, he’s also quite a looker. The man behind the Liberal Party’s stunning victory in Canada’s elections on Tuesday (Oct 20), toppling the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is set to become prime minister.
Mr Trudeau, 43, took power as he promised change to Canadians fed up with the staid policies of the Conservatives. Voters were also swayed by his glamour, youth and charisma that they felt was sorely needed in Ottawa.
Here are some things to know about Canada’s prime minister to be.
- His father Pierre Trudeau was also prime minister of Canada, serving two terms from 1968 to 1979, and 1980 to 1984.
Like his eldest son, the older Mr Trudeau swept to power on a wave of popularity known as “Trudeaumania”, based on his appeal with young people that saw him getting mobbed at appearances. His son’s election triumph is the first time in Canada’s history that a Canadian will follow his parent into the country’s highest political office. Mr Pierre Trudeau died in 2000, at the age of 80.
- His mother, Mrs Margaret Trudeau, 67, has a connection to Singapore – her great-great-great-grandmother Esther was the daughter of British major William Farquhar, who was one of the founders of Singapore. He arrived with Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819 as Singapore’s first Resident.
Esther, whose mother was born to a French officer and a Malaysian woman, raised five children in Singapore after her husband left her, before dying at the age of 41 almost penniless. Mrs Trudeau travelled to Singapore in 2007 to find her roots, in a visit covered by The Straits Times and a TV programme in Canada. Singapore’s National Library helped her trace her family roots and find Esther’s grave in Singapore.
- Mr Trudeau’s youngest brother Michel, 23, was killed in November 1998 while skiing by an avalanche at Kokanee Glacier Park in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
His three friends, who were with him at the time, were rescued, but despite an extensive search, Mr Michel Trudeau’s body was never found.
- When Mr Trudeau moves into the official residence of the prime minister in 24, Sussex Drive, Ottawa, he will be returning to his childhood home. His father was already prime minister when he was born, and his parents lived there.
- Mr Trudeau will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history. He was born on Christmas Day in 1971, on the same day as British pop singer Dido, and sharing a birthday with Sir Isaac Newton, actors Humphrey Bogart and Sissy Spacek, and singer Annie Lennox.
- Mr Trudeau is a boxing enthusiast and boxes at least once a week with an aide at any gym they can find wherever they are.
He famously sparred with Canadian Senator Patrick Brazeau in 2012 for a cancer charity in Ottawa. The then Liberal MP won the bout after three rounds in a surprise result, considering his opponent has a background in martial arts and served as a reservist in the Canadian Forces.
- Mr Trudeau has also tried his hand at acting, starring in a four-part made-for-TV miniseries called The Great War, about Canada’s involvement in World War I.
Sporting a moustache, he played a war hero named Talbot Papineau who died at the Battle of Passchendaele.
- During another charity event in 2011, Mr Trudeau made use of his sex appeal by stripping down to a white singlet in front of a cheering audience, who were bidding for a lunch date with him. He raised C$1,900 to aid research into liver disease.
- Mr Trudeau has at least two tattoos. One is a large tattoo of the earth on his left shoulder, clearly visible when he went shirtless for a weigh-in during the charity boxing match.
The other is a tattoo of a raven in a Haida Indian pattern, which he added to the earth tattoo when he turned 40.
- Mr Trudeau has admitted smoking marijuana three years ago, when he was an MP, at his house in Montreal during a dinner party with friends. He also said he has smoked pot five or six times in his life.
Moved by the plight of his brother Michel, who had marijuana possession charges pending against him when he died, Mr Trudeau has pledged to legalise recreational cannabis use for adults, saying that it is the only way to keep it from criminals.
Sources: Straits Times Archives, Canada.com, National Post, NBC News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Reuters, Agence France-Presse
Images: TPG/Click Photos
Text: Jeremy Lee
Additional text: Hidayah Idris