What has changed so much that Trudeau has to wear a bulletproof vest?

POLITICSOPINION

What has changed so much that Trudeau has to wear a bulletproof vest?

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Justin Trudeau and his Liberal team always knew that the 2019 campaign could never be a repeat of 2015.

But the security scare at Trudeau’s Mississauga speech on Saturday night drives home just how much has changed in Canadian politics, the country and for the Liberal leader himself since he won the election four years ago.

Even though Liberals do know that there are no exact repeats in politics, the Mississauga rally was no doubt intended as a replay, of sorts, of a big gathering Trudeau held in Brampton in the late days of the 2015 campaign.

It was a turning point, that Brampton rally — clear evidence in tone and turnout in the heart of the GTA that something large was happening for Liberals who had entered that epically long election campaign in third place.

About 7,000 people flocked to Brampton’s Powerade Centre two weeks before voting day in 2015, to hear a buoyant Trudeau proclaim that “better is always possible.”

And indeed things did get very much better for Trudeau in the days afterward — streets closed along the campaign trail to handle the massive throngs coming out to catch a glimpse of the soon-to-be prime minister.

The scene in Mississauga on Saturday night could not be more different — about 2,000 Liberal supporters, kept waiting for 90 minutes while Trudeau and his people grappled with some kind of serious, but undisclosed security threat. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau did not introduce her husband, as planned (and as she did in 2015,) staying instead in the background while Trudeau appeared in a bulletproof vest under his blazer.

Nothing Trudeau has done in the past four years justifies a threat to his life, or that of his family, as everyone, even his election rivals, were quick to point out afterward. The Liberal leader spoke on Sunday of the “polarized” political climate that creates situations like the one he faced, in which he, in four years, has become a polarizing figure.

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