PARLIAMENT HILL—Justin Trudeau began the first day of his new job on Parliament Hill with considerably more attention than leaders of third parties normally receive.
Photographers awaited his arrival at the member’s entrance at the Centre Block and CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge accompanied him on his walk up the hill with a television crew in tow.
Reporters crowded the foyer of the House of Commons after question period to ask the new Liberal leader what he thought of Conservative attack ads against him.
The Conservatives have wasted no time trying to brand Trudeau as an out-of-his-depth playboy with little more to offer than a famous name.
An English attack ad released Monday features a mustached Trudeau taking his shirt off as cameras flash while a voice-over recounts some of the Papineau MP’s controversial comments about Quebec separatism. The striptease occurred during a date auction at a Canadian Liver Foundation fundraiser in 2011.
Conservative communications director Fred Delorey also issued a statement echoing that theme.
“Justin Trudeau may have a famous last name, but in a time of global economic uncertainty, he doesn’t have the judgement or experience to be prime minister,” reads the statement.
Trudeau anticipated the attacks in his acceptance speech in Ottawa Sunday and told reporters he thought Canadians were weary of attack-style politics.
“I am quite confident that what I’ve heard from Canadians across this country about people being tired, of negativity, of bullying, of cynicism means that the Conservatives are going to discover that the one thing they know how to do really well is no longer working for them,” he said.
During his acceptance speech Sunday night, Trudeau touched on one of the major issues facing the Liberal Party: infighting. He said the days of a divided, Liberal Party in which factions like Jean Chretien supporters (Chretien-Liberals) and Paul Martin supporters (Martin-Liberals) jockey for position was over.
“The era of hyphenated Liberals ends right here, right now, tonight,” he said.
Trudeau was also greeted by statements from several groups looking to draw attention to their causes or open the lines of communication with the Liberal leader.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples welcomed Trudeau and called on him to consider policies for off-reserve Aboriginal people.
Democracy Watch set out a plan for Trudeau to fill “huge holes” in his platform relating to good government and corporate responsibility.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities congratulated Trudeau on the win and praised the Liberal Party’s “distinguished track-record” of working with municipalities.
The new leader held his own during question period on Monday, delivering two questions in French and one, more confidently, in English. He used his first questions as leader to blast the government over normalizing tariffs on imports that could increase retail prices. The Conservatives will remove preferential tariffs for China, South Korea, and Brazil which the government says have developed past the point of requiring special treatment.
He also silenced heckling from his ranks with a hand gesture as he listened to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s answer.