He came, he wowed, and he went. Justin Trudeau, according to the polls a good shot to become Canada’s next prime minister, visited Vancouver’s mean streets on Wednesday to serve up a free meal to the city’s downtrodden.
Across a sketchy alley from the Washington Needle Depot, the federal Liberal leader donned a blue headscarf and apron to ladle out beans and rice — a staple in much of the world — along with a team of volunteers with Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen.
The crew that hangs at Main and Hastings aren’t usually dazzled by celebrities, but Trudeau’s charm offensive left its mark on more than a few."I knew his father (former prime minister Pierre) with his roses and his sandals — he was so charming," said Irene Thomas, who made quite an entry of her own with her wheelchair and shiny gold-lame jacket.
“Justin is like his father — he’s very handsome.”
Members of the moribund Liberal party — long Canada’s governing party but humiliatinglly reduced to third-party status in the last election — are pinning their hopes on the telegenic young leader to lead them out of the electoral wasteland.
“Justin is going to take us to a new level,” enthused Raymond Chan, a former Liberal MP for Richmond.
“People in their forties can envision a world that we can’t even conceive.The future of Canada belongs to them.”
Aiding Trudeau’s rise in popularity is the public’s dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he of the ongoing Senate spending scandals and charm deficit.
“It’s more so that I don’t like Stephen Harper,” said Chad Walters, after chatting with Trudeau as he was served by the would-be PM. “It’s because of that that I’m intrigued about Trudeau.”
So did the grip-and-grin — Walters got a smartphone photo with Trudeau out of the exchange — win his vote?
“I don’t know,” said Walters. “He just seems like a nice guy.
“I don’t really know where he stands on the homelessness issue — I have to do some more homework.”