The laying on of hands

Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Michael Den Tandt.

Trudeau entered this potential career ender, not to huzzahs and acclaim, but battling for the nomination against fellow Liberals. He won the nomination by knocking on doors and standing in metro stations, selling party membership cards, says Luc Cousineau, the riding association president. “Justin was organized. He worked hard.” Come election time, he did the same. In 2011 he extended his margin of victory. “It’s being present at 7 in the morning and sometimes at 10 or 11 at night, for the whole of the campaign,” says Cousineau. “It’s going door-to-door, doing interviews, pressing the flesh. These are the things good politicians do. He does it. He’s very good at it.”

How good? Justin Trudeau does not shake your hand; he inhabits it. The wrist cocks out and up, the fingertips down; the elbow shoots off to his right; the shoulder rises slightly. Then a friendly grin dawns as he delivers a firm but not crushing grip, looking you in the eye, with a twinkle in his own. The effect is of someone who is warm, slightly embarrassed by the fuss, almost goofy, and genuinely happy to meet you. It is likely that some of this is practised; he would have spent his early social years deflecting other peoples’ preconceived ideas about class and snobbery. Either way, it is effective. The man is genuinely, immensely likable.

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