Meet the Trudeau protege who could one day get his job


Liberal insiders insist that now is not the time to make plans for leadership. And yet, several people who have worked closely with Joly do not deny that the work is among his ultimate ambitions.

Joly, said a senior adviser, who was granted anonymity to speak freely on a sensitive topic, is a “true team player for Justin Trudeau”, suggesting she fully intends to wait for her boss to decide her future.

“Now do I think she’s a leader? Absolutely,” said the insider, who has been close with Joly for nearly a decade. “She has a lot of the qualities we are looking for.”

Joly may not have been the obvious choice to lead the Liberals, but neither was Trudeau. Before taking over as party leader in 2013, he was widely seen as too inexperienced to be prime minister’s material, whatever his lineage.

His name is not the only one to be mentioned in the discussions on the possible replacement of Trudeau. It’s rarely the first either.

Prospect lists typically include Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defense Minister Anita Anand, Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and former central banker Mark Carney.

Joly’s profiles at home and on the world stage continue to grow. On Monday, she will deliver Canada’s speech — and her first — to the United Nations General Assembly.

Assessing Joly’s interest in leadership

Joly has traits that could endear her to members of the Liberal Party.

She is an Oxford-educated lawyer and a seasoned political organizer. Joly is also a woman, a francophone and a prominent figure in Quebec, a province that has long been key to the party’s electoral success.

In 2013, she created her own political party and emerged as a rising star in the mayoral election of Montreal, Canada’s second largest city.

Joly, a 34-year-old communications consultant at the time, issued a serious challenge to former federal Liberal cabinet minister Denis Coderre, missing about 5 points.

About a day after the Montreal vote, Trudeau called and urged Joly to run for the federal Liberals.

“I said to him, ‘Look, I can’t, I’m in municipal politics.[…]He called me periodically to tell me: ‘Melanie, you have to run, we want you to run.’ »

In 2015, she won a riding of Montreal when Trudeau came to power.

Even then, the Liberal leader’s job was in the back of her mind, a confidant and former Joly’s colleague told Maclean’s in a 2016 profile. never hidden that she was interested in being leader of the Liberal Party,” said Stéphanie Raymond-Bougie.

Should she ever launch a leadership bid, Joly has significant campaign experience. “The political machinery around him is very well endowed,” said a senior source who worked closely with Joly. “She is an organizer at heart.”

But the 43-year-old’s political aspirations rival her desire to have children.

“My goal is to represent, in the best possible way, Canada, all over the world,” she said. “But in the meantime, I try to do, through this, my [in vitro fertilization] rounds. I am now in my ninth cycle.

Joly went public with her struggles to start a family. It’s something she juggles with an intense international schedule that keeps her out of the country on a regular basis.

“I had miscarriages and all that [while] to be a minister. … There has never been a pregnant foreign minister. I think it’s a huge challenge. But I hope I will be able to do both.

Frank McKenna, a former premier of New Brunswick and a regular adviser to Joly, told POLITICO “she clearly has the seriousness and the energy” to be premier.

“But, having said that, that’s not what concerns her, at least in the conversations I have with her,” McKenna said. “She is focused on being a very good foreign minister and a good cabinet colleague.”

A highly publicized demotion

To one day become Liberal leader, Joly would have to demonstrate that she has recovered from a crisis that derailed her first cabinet job.

In 2018, Trudeau handed Joly a significant demotion from the senior heritage portfolio. The demotion follows major controversies over how she has managed and communicated government cultural policies, particularly in her home province of Quebec.

Joly describes her time at Heritage as “intense and sometimes difficult”. She insists she’s learned lessons from it, including what she says is the importance of getting out of the “Ottawa bubble” to connect with people on the ground.

After Heritage, Trudeau appointed Joly to oversee the much more junior files of the Cabinet of Tourism, Economic Development, Official Languages ​​and La Francophonie.


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