Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: Prime Minister in 15 years?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 09: Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (76) before an NFL preseason game between the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs on August 9, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (LDF) has a profile that reads like something out of a bad Harlequin. At 6’5″, the doctor who plays in the National Football League (NFL) in his spare time could be out of a sports romance novel. He also speaks French, and is apparently considerate.

This profile is the beginning of a potentially gaudy political resume. Leadership, bilingualism, a medical degree and professional sports. These are the elements political consultants dream of. Duvernay-Tardif has the exact characteristics that tend to be elected to office in Canada. Given time the Kansas City Chiefs starter will be one to watch.

Bilingualism is Canadian Political Gold

Quebec has a long history. Language politics have been a driving force for much of it. Speaking two languages is essential for success in Federal politics. Not speaking french is the equivalent of giving up on getting elected in the province.

The Canadian Prime Minister (PM) is named by the party in the House of Commons with the most seats. To gain power, Ontario and Quebec have long been important to win. The Province of Quebec contains 78 seats and a long history of political complexity. Language politics are consistently controversial

Speaking the language is key. With nearly 80% of the population speaking French as a first language, not talking with them is a non-starter. Not since Lester B. Pearson has a unilingual person been elected Prime Minister.

French is important politically. As is his English. Former Liberal Leader Stephane Dion’s inability to speak Canada’s majority language well was long a major criticism. Duvernay-Tardif speaks both, and he does so eloquently. His recent statement on withdrawing from the NFL season demonstrated that perfectly. Definitely well educated, he would be the fourth Canadian PM from McGill.

Demonstrated Leadership

Football is a team oriented sport. Duvernay-Tardif has left his team, but they still support him. His teammates recognize the selfless act he is committing. He is completely forgoing a multi-million dollar salary and a shot at a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. Why? To help others during a global crisis.

“Being on the frontline during this offseason has given me a different perspective on this pandemic and the stress it puts on individuals and our healthcare system. I cannot allow myself to potentially transmit the virus in our communities simply to play the sport that I love. If I’m to take risks, I’ll do it caring for patients.”

All athletes are being asked to take risks. The Miami Marlins are proving that currently. LDT is taking the risk that pays less and helps his community most. Ideally, this is what Canadians want in a Prime Minister. He is setting a great example, and must have political parties scrambling to court him to run.

Electing the Taller Candidate

The little things add up in LDT’s favour. Not guarantees, but there are aspects that generally tend to get elected. For example, height. Psychology Today explained how and why people have a preference for taller candidates. Their theory is that this is the result of evolutionary psychology. Tallness is an aspect linked to general formidability. Over the course of human evolution this has been useful. It’s not that the taller candidate will always win, but they do seem to have an advantage in general.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif would look imposing behind a podium. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reportedly 6’2″. Of course, opposition leader Andrew Scheer is 6’4″ and that wasn’t enough in the last election.

Political Heritage

Don’t read too much into this. Canada has a long history of electing the family members of people previously elected. This happens at all levels of government.

Even though it was in a different time, a Tardif has been previously elected. The guard’s family may still have political connections because of it. (Not that it would be truly needed given his popularity, but it would help.) It was a while back, but LDT is the grandson of a former minister in the governments of Renee Levesque and Pierre-Marc Johnson. Guy Tardif was a member of the National Assembly of Quebec from 1976 to 1985. He was a member of the PQ (Partie Quebecois), which is a provincially based separatist party.

LDT has not commented on his own political leanings in Canada. As such, potential party affiliation would be purely speculative. With the nature of the separatist movement, which hit its peak in the 1995 referendum, family party politics like this are completely irrelevant. Most Quebecers believe the separation issue is settled, and it wouldn’t give him an avenue to be PM anyway.

That said, Canadians love politicians whose family have served. There are many examples including the Trudeaus, the McKays, the Fords, and even the Laytons. Having family be elected is an indicator of future success for Canadian politicians.

Senator at Least

If he does not run for politics, appointment to the Senate is a strong possibility. Unlike in the USA, the Canadian Senate is filled by appointment via the Prime Minister. As such, the Canadian Senate has a long history of representatives from the sports world.

Currently, Chantal Petticlerc, Nancy Greene, and Larry Smith are in the Senate, just to name a few. Top medical professionals providing “sober second thought” include Daniele Martin, Rosemary Moodie, and Stan Kutcher. There are patterns regarding who goes to the Senate in Canada. For example, Doctors and athletes tend to get appointed. As such, he will eventually get consideration for appointment if he does not run himself.

Being a leader in the athletic and/or medical fields has been a ticket in the past to the Canadian Senate. Being both is unheard of.

Reading the Tea Leaves

It is far too soon to say Duvernay-Tardif will be a successful politician. He may well yet turn out to have opinions that are simply un-electable in Canada. He may not support the Canadian health care system, or may make some controversial statements down the line.  One can’t truly read into his political leanings currently.

If he does run, his resume provides one of the clearest paths to winning possible. Marc Garneau was an Astronaut. Ken Dryden is Ken Dryden. There is a history to this. Fame helps people get elected. Olympic athletes, professional hockey players, and folk heroes of all stripes have been elected before. This trend will continue into the future.

Being a highly educated, bilingual, professional athlete and doctor is a good political starting point.

The resume of a Canadian political leader does not have to be epic. Justin Trudeau taught Drama. Andrew Scheer claimed to be an insurance salesman–a laudable profession, no doubt. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the bilingual professional athlete and doctor, is a serious candidate to lead Canada in the next 15-20 years.

Main Photo:
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