Ever since the gaffe-filled February trip to India, the Prime Minister has had a much lower public profile than in his first two years of office.
With the exception of the June G-8 summit, Trudeau and his handlers have clearly taken a new strategic approach of keeping the PM out of the spotlight.
It seems his handlers have adopted the political strategy that absence will make the heart grow fonder.
I think this is a smart political move and will position Trudeau well before the run up to the 2019 election.
We have seen this strategy before from two Liberal leaders – one was extremely successful and one a disaster.
Former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was the master of managing expectations. He kept a relatively low profile and let his lieutenants do the work. Paul Martin was all too happy to serve in the spotlight as the second in command.
Chrétien, meanwhile, was always underestimated by the media and his political foes.
He was successful at managing his appearances and his profile to show a common touch with the people. That common-man look and feel led to him to be consistently underestimated and helped propel him to political victory and re-election.
Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, meanwhile, in the run up to the 2011 election did not have the high profile of many other Liberal leaders before elections.
The beaver is one of Canada’s national symbols and now a senior Liberal wants to make the puffin the symbol of the country’s self-proclaimed natural governing party.
Liberal deputy leader Michael Ignatieff says the industrious little seabird— with its black and white plumage, distinctive striped beak and orange feet— is a “noble” creature that exemplifies Liberal values.
“It’s a noble bird because it has good family values. They stay together for 30 years,” Ignatieff said Thursday outside a Liberal caucus retreat in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital.
“They lay one egg (each year). They put their excrement in one place. They hide their excrement.… They flap their wings very hard and they work like hell.
“This seems to me a symbol for what our party should be.”
…and the Liberals lost badly, winning the fewest seats in their history while Jack Layton and the NDP took over official opposition status in a Tory majority that saw Stephen Harper as the big winner.
I believe the lesson to be learned from Chretien and Ignatieff is that in government you can afford to have a lower profile and become more popular, while in opposition you have to do everything possible to raise your profile in the runup to the election.