This week, in Canada’s federal elections, Justin Trudeau, son of the country’s legendary Prime Minister, Pierre- Elliott Trudeau, secured his own proper place in Canadian history by sweeping to a stunning electoral majority and bringing his father’s storied Liberal party back to power after 10 long years.
This personal victory of Justin’s marks a turning of the page in the economic and social scene of Canada as he is expected to provide new impetus to the middle class with his fresh and more socially progressive approach.
The analyses of the electoral result are so numerous and varied across the spectrum of political journalism that I will not venture to add another. Rather, I will concentrate my take on this glorious victory on its “Helleno-centric” nature.
For, to the Greeks of Montreal, Justin Trudeau, 43 years young, is not simply another Prime Minister of Canada. To them, he is a man of the Greek Community of Montreal. One of their own, whom, since 2008, they have repeatedly chosen to be their Member of Parliament in the riding of Papineau, an urban Montreal electoral district encompassing the heavily Greek neighborhood of Park-Extension with its almost 3000 registered voters of Greek origin.
Over the years, Justin has outwardly demonstrated his warmth towards Montreal’s Greeks by actively participating in their country’s Independence Day parade and their festivals and visiting many of their associations to share a meze with ouzo, greeting the aged and engaging in their desire to caress his hair, and attending the Greek Churches of the Annunciation and Panagitsa for Sunday service on special occasions.
He never forgets to send Christmas wishes and thank you cards to his Greek supporters every time he is re-elected and his personal and spiritual presence in Park-Extension is greatly appreciated. As such, his Greek constituents have stood behind through three consecutive electoral victories even though the Liberal party, itself, suffered its worst loss in history, sinking to a paltry 32 seats in 2011.
Speaking at Justin’s headquarters with some elegant, elderly Greek female volunteers who were working the phones in an effort to persuade every last Hellene to go out and vote, I was informed that they had worked tirelessly throughout the campaign because they wanted to see “Pierre’s son” at the helm of their country.
Conversing with many among the Greek-speaking electorate, I realized that they truly consider Justin one of their own and that he holds a very special place in their hearts. A place that originated from the great admiration they held for his father who was a staunch supporter of such key social issues as subsidized education and universal health care.
As such, the Greeks went to the polls en masse last Monday, confirming their loyalty towards the Liberals and their everlasting and passionate support of Justin Trudeau. Sadly, the party itself did not run a single candidate of Greek origin in the greater Montreal/Laval region but this was an untimely event that was a result of the following:
1) for the longest of time, there was no real interest on the part of the organized Greek community to put forth a serious candidate in one of the ridings with a large concentration of Greek-speaking voters (it was unfortunate that, in the end, the Greek candidate Peter Papadakis in Laval lost the party’s nomination amid allegations of fraud nomination elections);
2) at the same time, the ruling Conservative Party of Stephen Harper managed to dominate Greek community affairs through its influential Senate speaker, Leo Housakos, exercising a controlling presence among its members and exclusively positioning Greek candidates in various parts of the country without, however, any positive results in the end.
The young, handsome Justin counts numerous friends among the Greeks of Montreal with some dating from his childhood as many, such as Stratton Stevens and Demetrios Manolakos, were very close friends of his father.
Greeks may want him to hold their hand, to smile at them and to crouch down and listen to their problems but they also want Justin to show a respect, knowledge and concern for Greece’s issues.
I think their son next door, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will always have a presence in Park-Ex, as it is known, and with his vitality and cosmopolitan demeanor they believe he will work to strengthen Greek-Canadian bilateral relations and fulfill his role as a worldly leader.
Justin is a Prime Minister adored by the Greeks in Montreal and in Canada and, as such, in Greece itself without doubt!
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