A retired senior Liberal called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to resign this week, citing the 1990s sitcom Seinfeld as the reason.
John Manley was deputy prime minister under Jean Chrétien in the early 2000s, and was briefly a contender to replace Chrétien as prime minister — though he was ultimately defeated by Paul Martin.
In a regular interview with Bloomberg News this week, Manley cited what he called the “Seinfeld rule” of Canadian politics.
This is based on the fact that series creator Jerry Seinfeld voluntarily chose to end Seinfeld’s run at the height of its creative power. When the show last aired in 1998 after nine seasons, it was at the top of its ratings, and easily stands as the most watched television show in the United States.
“I wanted the ending to be from a point of strength,” is how Jerry Seinfeld described it at the time. The decision didn’t come cheap: Going out on a high, the comedian turned down a contract from NBC that would have paid him at least $110 million for a 10th season.
However, in doing so, Seinfeld became one of the few shows in television history whose ratings did not plummet before the series’ most recent suspension.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Manley noted that by the time of Canada’s next expected general election in 2025, Trudeau will be in his “10th season” — something he noted is the same as most of his predecessors.
“Stephen Harper; nine seasons. Before him, Jean Chretien; 10 seasons. Before him, Brian Mulroney; nine seasons,” said Manley, who now works as a consultant at the law firm Bennett Jones.
“You want a renewal after 10 seasons? The odds are against it,” he said, adding that “change is a force of nature in politics” and all that can be done against it is to “batten down the hatches.”
If Trudeau remains prime minister in the next election, he will seek his fourth consecutive mandate – a milestone rarely achieved by a politician in Canada’s federal history.
Even Trudeau’s father, who served 15 years as prime minister, had that tenure cut short by a narrow defeat in 1979 at the hands of then-Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark.
Only two prime ministers have managed four consecutive victories: John A. Macdonald and Wilfrid Laurier. And these streaks were made easier by the fact that both Macdonald and Laurier were overseeing a small and relatively homogeneous country where most citizens could not vote.
And where Trudeau may differ from the Seinfeld example is that his highest ratings happened long ago.
The height of Trudeau’s personal popularity occurred just months after his election in 2015, when he hit an approval rating of 65 percent, according to the Angus Reid Institute. It has been on a steady downswing since then. As of press time, more than two years have passed since the number of Canadians who approve of Trudeau exceeded the number who want him gone.