Federal Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau is urging disenchanted Central Albertans to fight indifference and engage in the nation’s political process.
Trudeau made a stop at Red Deer College this past Sunday as part of a swing through western Canada. He touched on many issues from health care and bettering mental health treatments to voter engagement and the ongoing economic pressures facing many Canadians.
“We have a generation of young people who are more aware, informed and more engaged than any generation before,” he said. “Young people ‘get’ how important they are in shaping our future. But they are completely disengaged from politics. By bringing forward space for them in politics, by talking about shared goals, addressing economic challenges, focusing on social justice and opportunity, and reducing conflict around the world – these are the things young people get involved in.
“As they come in, they bring a dynamism and a set of ideas and solutions that this country sorely lacks.”
About 200 people showed up to hear Trudeau, 41, who was elected to the Montreal riding of Papineau in 2008. He emphasized his party’s view on inclusion as a key part of the message he’s taking nation-wide.
“That’s the message I’m offering western Canadians, who are increasing feeling taken for granted by a government that is very focused on spreading their message out to the grassroots rather than actually making sure that the grassroots are heard and engaged with in parliament.”
He noted that some 200 people turning up at the afternoon event in Red Deer is a sign that people are hungry for change.
“Being able to be part of that is hugely important over the coming years as we draw out strong community leaders, activists and people who are serious about serving their communities.” He said the trend has been for politicians increasingly to become spokespeople for the prime minister’s office in their ridings.
“That’s completely backwards. It’s the job of the member of parliament to be the voice for the community in Ottawa.”
Trudeau also told media that citizens don’t have to be card-carrying members of the party to be able to take part in picking the next leader.
“We want to show Canadians that the Liberal party trusts them,” he said. “We’re not hiding behind veils of secrecy or non-transparency picking and choosing the kinds of people we want to represent. We’re making sure all Canadians know they are important to us, and we are asking for their help to make sure we pick the right leader.”
Trudeau also described the ‘Idle No More’ movement as “an extraordinary opportunity” in contrast with how the current government looks at it – “a problem to be solved,” he said.
“We have young native activists right across the country who are saying it’s time they be involved in the conversations and the solutions around natural resources, around stronger communities and education.”