With his Hollywood hair and classically good looks, Justin Trudeau burst on to the international scene as a global heart-throb when he became Canada’s Prime Minister in 2015 at the age of just 43.
But six years later and with a Covid crisis gripping the North American nation, the 49-year-old cut an entirely different figure as he showed off a grey beard and tired expression this week.
Speaking in parliament, Canada’s leader looked exhausted as he claimed Britain was facing a ‘very serious third wave’ – an apparently desperate attempt to deflect criticism over his country’s sluggish vaccine roll-out and surging infections.
After a year in lockdown, and now sporting a grey beard, the appearance of the father-of-three was a far cry from clean-cut images of the dashing politician from the past which show his chiseled physique in the boxing ring and perfectly turned out hair.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Justin Trudeau in 2021 (left), after over a year of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and in December 2019 (right), before the coronavirus gripped the globe
2016: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spars with Keone, 18, at the Gleason’s Boxing Gym in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday
THIS WEEK: Trudeau speaks in Canada’s Parliament amid the coronavirus pandemic
The reasons behind Mr Trudeau’s changing appearance have been the subject of much speculation, as well as fascination and ridicule, in Canada.
Since April 3, 2021, hair salons, barbershops and other personal service businesses – as well as some other businesses deemed non-essential – have been forced to close under coronavirus measures in Ontario, home to Canada’s capital Ottawa and the federal government.
In addition to the government closing schools and non-essential businesses in Montreal and Laval, residents in those regions who leave their homes between 8 pm and 5 am without a good reason could face fines of over $1,000.
The measures were extended to at least April 18 earlier this week.
Lockdowns also took place around the country last year as the coronavirus first spread in the country, with similar measures being taken intermittently in 2020 seeing the closure of non-essential businesses.
While the closure of hairdressers could go some way to explaining Trudeau’s mid-pandemic appearance, some – as reported in the New York Times last year – have suggested his haggard looks are an intentional reflection on the nation’s struggle during the crisis, with people having been stuck at home for months.
With Mr. Trudeau having mastered the art of image branding, many have sided with this way of thinking.
Speaking to The Times last year, Peter Donolo, the director of communications for a former Liberal prime minister, Jean Chrétien, said ‘One thing (Trudeau) understands very well is the importance of symbolism in a leader. Also, it helps that he looks like a million dollars with his hair long.
2012: Trudeau shows his muscles while weighing-in for a charity boxing match in Ottawa March 28, 2012. Trudeau and Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau faced off in the ring
2013: Justin Trudeau speaks as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, before be became Prime Minister of the country two years later
2014: Justin Trudeau at a signing even in at Indigo Manulife Centre on October 20, 2014 in Toronto, Canada
2015: Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Trudeau wave on stage in Montreal on October 20, 2015 after winning the general elections
In Canada, citizens expect their leaders to live a fairly frugal existence, without being given much special treatment or favours just because of their position.
In one past case, when the country learned that another Prime Minister – Stephen Harper – paid for a hair and makeup stylist, the country collectively mocked him.
Alex Marland, a professor of political science at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, said to the New York Times: ‘Can you imagine the negative media coverage that would arise if he was getting special access to someone to give him a haircut, while we can’t?’
When he became Prime Minister, it was frequently noted how attractive Mr Trudeau, with a headline in US Weekly reading: ‘Canada’s New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Is Super Hot. No other leader in the world is as sexy.’
After the 2015 election, the Daily Mirror asked ‘Is Justin Trudeau the sexiest politician in the world?’
The New York Times wrote ‘Canada’s hot prime minister tells Leo to shut up about climate change,’ along with a picture of the two men disagreeing about the oil industry, and the Gay Times wrote about ‘9 reasons why Justin Trudeau is our favourite political heartthrob.’
On YouTube, fans have even made compilations dedicated to the Prime Minister’s ‘hair toss’.
2016: Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (left) and then-US President Barack Obama exit the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill following the North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa, June 28, 2016
2016: The Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visit the Canadian Coast Guard and Vancouver First Responders
2017: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ivanka Trump, daughter of President Donald Trump, listen during a meeting with women business leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington
2018: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to deliver a press conference, on the second day of the G20 Leader’s Summit, in Buenos Aires, on December 1, 2018
2019: First Lady Melania Trump kisses Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next to the U.S. President Donald Trump during the family photo with invited guests at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. The famous photo was taken in August 2019, months before the pandemic
2019, Transatlantic pals: Kate Middleton gesticulates with her hands as she appears deep in chat with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the NATO reception at Buckingham Palace
2020: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a Covid-19 briefing at the Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Ontario, in December, 2020, almost a year into the pandemic
Over the years, the dark-haired PM has been pictured alongside beaming foreign dignitaries including Melania Trump, who lit up when the pair met at the G7 Summit in 2019.
He is also said to be have become a fast friend of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, with the pair pictured during a visit to Vancouver in 2016 and in deep conversation at Buckingham Palace in 2019.
Two years earlier Ivanka Trump was all smiles as she sat next to Trudeau and his wife during the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and Gala and Washington, DC.
But after a year tackling the Covid pandemic, Trudeau this week took on a very different appearance with a greying beard and tired-looking expression.
Despite his new, somewhat scruffy look, some complimented his hairstyle, and going as far to say that Trudeau is ‘Rock n Roll’.
Ricky Walters, director of SALON64 in London, UK, said ‘I think we can all agree as prime ministers go, they don’t get more rock n roll than Justin Trudeau.
‘You can tell a lot from a prime ministers hair (which does make me worry a little about the UK). Justin’s longer hair is bold brave and innovative given his job role. The “Man Bob” is a huge trend at the moment with plenty of layers and attitude.
‘A round shape at the bottom to feel a little groomed with wild layers sitting on top. I think this is a great look!’
On Monday, Canada recorded a record 10,859 new cases compared to 2,491 cases on the same day in the UK – a resurgence which infectious disease experts blame on ‘pandemic fatigue’, the early lifting of lockdown curbs and the appearance of more transmissible variants
Cases in the Canada, which was praised by pundits for its early response to the coronavirus outbreak but has struggled to get its vaccine programme up to speed, recently hit 207.3 per million people, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – exceeding even the staggering 206.7 per million recorded in the US.
On Monday, Canada recorded a record 10,859 new cases compared to 2,491 cases on the same day in the UK – a resurgence which infectious disease experts blame on ‘pandemic fatigue’, the early lifting of lockdown curbs and the appearance of more transmissible variants.
This week, the Canadian premier referred to the UK’s hugely successful drive, which has 60 per cent of the population given jabs compared to just 20 per cent in Canada, as he sought to justify keeping tough restrictions.
‘Vaccinations on their own are not enough to keep us safe,’ he told MPs in the country’s parliament on Wednesday.
‘We know for example that the UK is ahead of just about everybody else on vaccination and yet they maintain very strong restrictions and are facing a very serious third wave.’
But British politicians accused Mr Trudeau of ‘fake news’, telling MailOnline he should ‘butt out’ and focus on his own country’s woes.
Scientists tracking the spread of the virus also rubbished the Canadian premier’s comments, insisting the UK is in a ‘stable’ position.
Opposition MPs have criticised the Canadian government for its sluggish vaccine rollout, with New Democrats leader Jagmeet Singh claiming: ‘Canada is on fire. It’s not good enough to sit on the sidelines.’
In Ontario and British Columbia, which have seen record numbers of cases in recent days, local authorities are struggling to suppress the so-called Kent and Brazilian variants respectively which have taken root.
Infectious disease experts claim the surge in cases has coincided with warmer weather and lockdown fatigue. Just this week, hundreds of protesters in Montreal chanted ‘Freedom for the young’ and smashed windows in defiance of a new coronavirus curfew.
Riot police fired tear gas in a bid to control the crowd that had allegedly gathered on Sunday to protest Quebec premier Francois Legault’s decision to roll the city-wide curfew back from 9:30pm to 8 pm. The move, previously replicated in other Covid-19 hot spots across the province, took effect in Montreal and nearby Laval on Sunday.
Police move down Saint Catherine Street as anti-curfew protests continue for a second night, Monday, April 12, 2021, in Montreal
The protest began calmly, with a mostly young crowd dancing to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, ‘freedom for the young’ – and quickly turned violent as garbage fires were lit in Jacques Cartier Square.
Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the numbers had given cause for concern, given that 58 per cent of new cases involve people under the age of 40. ‘While vaccination accelerates, we must continue to adhere to the measures if we want to defeat this pandemic,’ Mr Dube said. ‘Let’s show solidarity.’
Mr Legault said last week that he was imposing the curfew in Montreal and Laval despite a relatively stable case count due to the heavy presence of more contagious variants.
Residents in those regions who leave their homes between 8 pm and 5 am without a good reason could face fines of over $1,000.
The government also closed schools and non-essential businesses in those areas, and Legault announced Thursday that the measures would be extended until at least April 18.
The province also gave 59,447 doses of vaccine on Saturday, and has currently given a shot to just over 22 per cent of the population.