Mr. Trudeau Comes to Edmonton – Part II | By Graeme Archibald

Packed into the lobby of the Citadel’s Shoctor Theatre, Justin Trudeau, MP for the Quebec riding of Papineau and Liberal leadership hopeful addressed a crowd of a couple hundred supporters. Alberta is hardly Liberal territory – many blame Justin’s father, Pierre Trudeau, for that, thanks to the National Energy Program. However, Trudeau the Younger is not his father, and seems intent on spreading the Liberal banner across the entire country, including Blue Alberta. As such, he has distanced himself from comments by Liberal MP David McGuinty.

Trudeau’s speech was very much one of national unity. He argued against regionalism and partisan politics, attacking both the Conservatives and the NDP as being two sides of the same ideological coin. The Liberals, he said, would govern from the political centre. Trudeau quoted the words of Jean Chretien – “my wallet on the right and my heart on the left”.

Trudeau did not shy away from the Liberal Party’s troubles – listing off the seat count of the Party from the last few elections would give anyone the thought that Canada’s “natural governing party” is struggling to remain viable. While Trudeau alluded to the party’s strong past in Canadian politics, he made clear that the party had lost the popular support of Canadians. Trudeau, of course, believes he is the one who can recapture that support.

The middle class and Canada’s youth were hot topics in Trudeau’s speech. He expressed concern of the stagnation of wages and growing household debt levels, stating that Canada’s economy is strongest when its middle class is strong. The 40-year old Trudeau appealed to the disaffected members of our Generation Y, noting our concerns of job security, quality of life, and a feeling that our political process isolates us.

Trudeau defended his support for the CNOOC-Nexen deal that would see the Chinese state company acquire the Calgary oil giant. It was a rather bold move for Trudeau, given the deal’s unpopularity on the political left. Trudeau stated it was a matter of leadership, and the need for outside investment in our vast natural resource wealth. He re-iterated his support for expanding markets in Asia, particularly China.

While much of Trudeau’s speech was lofty Obama-esque rhetoric of uniting Canadians under common values, there were still plenty of partisan shots at the Harper Conservatives and the Mulcair NDPs, albeit they were rather tame for a political gathering such as this. The speech was lacking on substance, but that is to be expected – this was a leadership rally, not a policy speech. It is too soon to tell if Trudeau will go on to carry the Liberal banner in the 2015 election, but he has demonstrated that he is capable.

All Canadians (except card-carrying members of other political parties) are able to vote in the Liberal leadership race this April without paying a fee or becoming a member. To do so, visit the Liberal Party of Canada website here.

Graeme Archibald is a fourth-year Political Science Honors student and a member of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Related posts:

  • Jordan Hupka

    I was not at the rally. You wrote he said the CPC and NDP were two sides of the same coin; what exactly did he mean by this? What were some of his criticisms of the NDP?

    Judging from his article in the NP about Nexen it seems to me he is trying to pull the LPC towards the right. Do you agree?

  • Yeah I should clarify that. What he meant was that the CPC was the political right and the NDP was the political left, and are focused on ideology. He went on to give the usual ‘big, red tent’ rhetoric as the Liberals as the inclusive, pragmatic Liberals.
    Most criticism was directed at the CPC, but he did give the NDP a little bit of criticism – mostly on trade, and that they can’t move too far towards the centre as they are beholden to the far-left. He also said Mulcair was grumpy haha.
    I would say that he yeah, its a rightward shift with him, at least on economic policy. It seemed pretty clear that for social policy he wanted to stay on the left, but on the economic side it would be moving right, or at least to a more pragmatic position. For example, he supports the Nexen deal as he believes we need foreign investment, but doesn’t support Northern Gateway out of environmental concerns.

  • Jordan Hupka

    I wonder what his dad would think about letting the Chinese nationalize our oil?

    However, I think Chretien-style Liberalism is a good strategy for the LPC in the current climate. After getting a majority it seems the Cons have gotten more bold regarding social conservatism. The free vote on abortion, ending heath covergae for refugees, and getting “tough on crime (including criminal with metal illness)” might turn off many people who voted Conservative in 2011. Those voters are most likley unconfortable with the NDP economically and may turn to the Libs.

    • I agree, I think its the best bet for the Libs at the moment, at least to get them back into the realm of political relevancy. The tide has definitely turned against the Conservatives it seems, especially considering the tight race in Calgary-Centre right now. Who would of thought that the Liberals had a chance at winning a seat in Calgary (granted those polls were done before the various anti-Alberta comments came out)

      We’ll see what happens.