News / Canada

Canada's political cartoonists sharpen pencils to draw Justin Trudeau

After 10 years of drawing Stephen Harper, Canada's political cartoonists look forward to illustrating the moments of the the less stage-managed Trudeau.

Courtesy Graeme MacKay

Regardless of their political beliefs, prime-minister designate Justin Trudeau is proving a breath of fresh air for some political cartoonists.

With a career based, literally, around drawing attention to important world events, it’s helpful to have some new characters in the mix once in a while, said Graeme MacKay, a Hamilton cartoonist whose work appears in the Hamilton Spectator.

After 10 years of practice, MacKay says he can draw Stephen Harper “with my eyes closed.”

“It’s always easier when you switch up faces,” MacKay said. 

Artists live for the crazy moments that come with the territory of political cartooning, noting that Trudeau’s less stage-managed than Harper was, which could lead to some interesting moments.

But, then again, “politics is politics,” said freelance cartoonist Michael de Adder.

Courtesy Michael de Adder

“It doesn’t matter who’s in power,” he said. “You sit around waiting for them to make their first mistake,” he said.

Cartooning can become difficult, though, when an artist is learning a new character. De Adder said he always misses the previous prime minister for a bit of time.

“Cartoonists will adapt to the new policies,” said de Adder, “there will always be something to criticize.’

Courtesy Greg Perry

With new characters come new features to focus on, and MacKay appreciates how Trudeau’s “great hair and crazy eyebrows” make him interesting to draw. 

He created one of his favourite Trudeau pieces before the campaigning even started. Trudeau’s now well-circulated 2014 quote dissuading military action —  “trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are” — was art in the making, MacKay said.

His take: Doves flying out of Trudeau’s pants.

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