OTTAWA—Ever since Napoleon’s 100-day second coming ended with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, politics watchers have been consumed with 100-day increments in the lives of new governments.
Former U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt made it an American political standard with his Depression-era burst of activity in 1933 and John F. Kennedy cemented the modern television-era brand in the 1960s.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government embraced the arbitrary anniversary with gusto Friday, adding a slick social media twist that included a day-by-day multimedia montage—think Stephen Harper’s much-maligned 24 Seven vanity videos on steroids—and the 44-year-old prime minister responding to questions on Twitter.
Trudeau also used his Instagram account to post a short video blurb marking the occasion, along with a series of photos—Including a movingly candid shot of Jane Philpott when Trudeau first asked her to be his health minister.
The Liberal 100-day retrospective has actually been going on for a couple of weeks, with some media outlets choosing to measure from the Oct. 19 federal election rather than the more official government swearing-in date of Nov. 4.
But lest this be mistaken as a solely media-driven project, it’s worth noting the Liberals’ own transition books set out a specific list of measures that were to be completed within the government’s first 100 days in office.
The party has also been using the threshold as a fundraising motif, and Trudeau has also been touting the anniversary in his public appearances.
On Friday, he waded into the fray with his now-trademark enthusiasm, which makes supporters giddy and drives his detractors to distraction.
The Twitter exercise had some moments of genuine connection, a few serious policy reflections and a lot of the kind of snark-bait filler that social media punsters and partisans love to ridicule.
A class of Grade 5 and Grade 6 students from Delisle, Sask., asked Trudeau if he’d always aspired to lead the country.
“The goal was making a difference and serving my community as best I could,” Trudeau responded in a short, instantaneous video. “And it ended up being politics and as prime minister, just like my dad. Cheers!”
Asked about his most memorable moment in the first 100 days, Trudeau said he’ll never forget greeting the first group of Syrian refugees arriving in Toronto late last year.
He vowed Canada’s ongoing support for Ukraine, maintained his government would amend Bill C-51, the controversial security law, and responded to a question about how best to assert Canada’s Arctic sovereignty: “By better supporting the people who live there, and have lived there for millennia.”
He said decriminalizing marijuana, as opposed to legalizing and regulating it, “does nothing to protect kids from pot, and keeps money flowing to gangs, criminals and gun-runners.”
But most of the questions involved frothier fare.
We learned that Trudeau remains a Montreal Canadiens fan despite the NHL team’s mid-season meltdown.
And that he’s happy the fictional character of Jar Jar Binks wasn’t reprised in the latest Star Wars movie instalment.
“Is a hot dog a sandwich?” asked one inquirer, who received an equally flippant response.
We did not, however, learn Trudeau’s Valentine’s day plans with his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau.
“Shhhhh. It’s a surprise,” the prime minister wrote back.
Many serious questions received no response, such as an inquiry from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario: “How will you redefine the health care system for the next generation?”
Someone with the Twitter handle Emma P asked Trudeau, “Will you support pipelines & Canadian Oil?” but received no response.
And one wit wanted to know, “Hey ?JustinTrudeau what does (U.S. President Barack) Obama smell like? I bet subtle but pleasant.” He too was left unanswered.