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Justin Trudeau for leader! Okay, maybe not

Justin Trudeau is no girlie-man. And everyone who thought he was is eating crow. On Saturday, he knocked out a Conservative. In the history of politics in Canada, it was a epic moment.

Take that, Ezra Levant! The irritating host of Fox (oops, Sun) TV predicted that the charity boxing match between Justin Trudeau and Patrick Brazeau would be a rout. The slimmer, lighter Justin would wind up on the mat – and henceforth be known as Justine.

But the pretty boy surprised them all. Mr. Brazeau, the beefy senator with the military training and a black belt, turned out to have a glass jaw and the wind of a two-pack-a-day man. By the end, his nose was gushing blood. If the referee hadn't stopped the match, Justin would have turned him into hamburger.

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And now, male pundits with a liberal bent can't stop gushing over Justin.

"It is not just Patrick Brazeau thinking today that he seriously underestimated this guy," marvelled one scribe. Justin is no lightweight mamma's boy. He's his father's son after all! He can cold-cock his opponents without breathing hard. At last, the Liberal Party's salvation is at hand.

"It may come to be seen as Justin Trudeau's defining career moment," wrote Lawrence Martin, who linked Justin's determination in the ring to Pierre's steely courage when he faced down a pack of rampaging separatists. The Toronto Star's Thomas Walkom also conjured up a heroic image. "Like his father, Justin left little to chance. While exuding insouciance, he trained hard for the match. And, as with his father, that training and discipline paid off."

Of course, the separatists were trying to break up the country. Mr. Brazeau, who is a rare combination of Conservative and aboriginal, is a patronage appointment to the Senate with an ego bigger than his biceps. Personally, I wasn't sorry to see him lose. But the stakes weren't quite as high.

Before this week, I confess I'd never thought of pugilistic prowess as proof of leadership potential. Then again, I'm not a guy. Guys regard politics as combat by other means (which may explain why so many women don't want to play). As Warren Kinsella, a sometime Liberal strategist, wrote after the match: "Politics, stripped down to its essence, is like boxing. Get in a ring, beat each other to a bloody pulp as people sit on the sidelines and cheer."

With charming candour, Mr. Kinsella revealed that "whenever I set up a political war room … I tell the assembled youngsters their loathing of conservatives is a purifying force. 'Let it wash over you,' I tell them. 'Step on their necks, and don't lift your foot until the day after the election. Hurt them.' "

Justin can hurt them. It feels soooo good! Or can he?

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Personally, I'm not convinced that the daunting Trudeau name and spirit would be quite the asset that aging eastern Liberals seem to hope. The Trudeau name makes them nostalgic for the glory days of their long lost youth. But it reminds Westerners of why they hate the East. Justin's dad did more than anyone else to stoke the fire of western alienation, which led to where we are today. Millions of westerners would cast their vote for the Great Satan before they'd vote for anyone named Trudeau.

I feel sorry for Justin. Like most sons of powerful and successful men, he's doomed to dwell in the shadow of his famous father. He should have gone into another line of work. But all his life, people have been telling him he has the stuff.

Justin strikes me as a decent enough guy – expressive, warm and good-looking, like his mother, but also completely innocent of the qualities necessary to revive the fortunes of a party that doesn't have a clue what it should stand for any more. He's also from Quebec, which is a fatal liability. The economic and political power of the country have all gone west.

What the Liberals really need is not a handsome fellow with a famous name. They need a manly-girl from Alberta. Those gals can outpunch them all.

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About the Author

Margaret Wente is one of Canada's leading columnists. As a writer for The Globe and Mail, she provokes heated debate with her views on health care, education, and social issues. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column-writing.Ms. Wente has had a diverse career in Canadian journalism as both a writer and an editor. More

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