Trudeau talks leadership bid and love of Bow Valley
By: Derek Clouthier
| Posted: Thursday, Jul 12, 2012 06:00 am
The Liberal Party of Canada put a high-powered offence on the field for the upcoming byelection for Calgary-Centre: bring Papineau MP Justin Trudeau to Cow Town for a fundraiser in hopes the young superstar of the party could rouse his base and steal the riding, which currently sits vacant following the resignation of Conservative Lee Richardson.
During his visit, Trudeau found time to speak about an array of topics, one of which is rumours he will throw his cowboy hat into the ring and run for the Liberal leadership in the coming year.
“It’s all about family,” said the eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and wife Margaret.
The Quebec MP said a decision to run for the leadership has revealed several questions he has had to find answers to, and he knows a campaign would test his ability to balance being a husband, father, politician and possible prime minister.
Trudeau gave a group of supporters a stirring speech at a Calgary event held at Il Gallo Nero Restaurant on July 5, which included Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett and Alberta Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman.
Despite the serious tone of his speech, Trudeau did not fail to maintain a sense of humour.
“The Liberal Party is now concentrated in little pockets around the country,” said Trudeau, “where the Liberal party is actually popular.”
The son of Canada’s 15th prime minister (and perhaps the one who was both the most loved and loathed in the country’s history), Trudeau said he finds himself in Calgary about three times each year, and admitted that as a Liberal it’s not always easy.
“If you’re a Liberal in Alberta, it’s because you really believe,” Trudeau professed. “It’s not because it makes you popular with your neighbours.”
Stumping for his party’s political platform, Trudeau did not shy away from criticising the current Conservative government in Ottawa, predominantly that of its leader, Stephen Harper.
“Conservatives in Ottawa dislike government intensely,” Trudeau charged, “and are setting about, very effectively I’d say, convincing Canadians to start disliking government intensely as well. They’ve been very cunning about it by being incredibly small-minded and incompetent.”
Trudeau accused the New Democratic Party of joining the Conservative government, saying the left-leaning party has disengaged with Western Canada, while the party holding a majority government has done the same in Quebec and the east.
But despite his sharp rhetoric, the 40-year-old, who continues to battle the legacy of his namesake in Canada’s west, particularly Alberta, said he sees ‘something happening’ around the country.
“There’s something happening in this country when a fat, redneck cowboy is the mayor of Toronto and a progressive, brilliant, young Muslim is the mayor of Calgary.”
Rob Ford is the current Toronto mayor, while Naheed Nenshi is the Calgary mayor. Both men ran on a nonpartisan basis.
Dressed in full Stampede gear, including a belt buckle with his name engraved that he received as a gift when he was nine, Trudeau confirmed his love for the Bow Valley region.
Although he had never been to Cochrane, he said he would like to visit sometime in the future, but his true love of the area was unmistakable.
“Canmore… now that’s the place to be,” declared Trudeau, harking back to his experiences with avalanche preparedness in the region during the early 2000s when he and his family launched the Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign; a program that advocates for mountain safety following the death of his younger brother, Michel, who died in 1998 in an avalanche while skiing in British Columbia.
It was quite evident during Trudeau’s speech that his father’s passion for politics was passed down to his next-of-kin.
The Quebec Liberal said he hopes the next generation of voters are ready to move forward and not affix the decisions his father made to him.