TORONTO: Ian Bremmer remembers the first time he met Justin Trudeau, at the annual gathering of elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.
Bremmer, a prominent foreign policy expert, said Canada’s party at the world economic forum is usually “the sleepiest thing you could do.”
It is typically held at a second-tier hotel, and if you go, it’s because you’re on the way someplace else. But in early 2016, Canada’s new leader, tall and trim, the son of the liberal icon and late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, arrived.
“It was insane. Everyone wanted to be there. He was the superstar on the global stage that year. The idea that a Canadian prime minister would have that kind of impact and star power was insane,” said Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group.
“He’s still considered one of the good guys, one of the globalists. But let’s face it, his star has diminished.”
Polls show Trudeau could lose to his Conservative Party rival in national elections on Monday or fail to win a majority of seats in Parliament and have to rely on an opposition party to remain in power.
Not since 1935 has a first-term Canadian prime minister with a parliamentary majority lost a bid for reelection. A combination of scandal and high expectations has damaged his prospects.
Last month, photos of Trudeau in blackface and brownface when he was younger surfaced, casting doubt on his judgment.
And the boyishly handsome 47-year-old was tarnished by a scandal that erupted earlier this year, when his former attorney general said he pressured her to halt the prosecution of a Quebec company. Trudeau has said he was standing up for jobs.
“I don’t think he’s totally negated, but he’s not just the draw, the leader, if you like, that people wanted and expected,” said Robert Bothwell, a professor of Canadian history and international relations at the University of Toronto.
Trudeau’s opponent, Andrew Scheer, is a career politician described by those in his own party as bland, a possible antidote for those tired of Trudeau’s flash. AP