The Liberal Candidate Aims to “Say the Same Things to all Canadians” From Coast to Coast.
Going into the event I can say that I honestly had no idea what to expect from the Liberal frontrunner other than some generalized “I want to make Canada better” sentiments. Realistically, we didn’t get a whole lot more than that. However, Trudeau presented more about who he is and what he personally stands for than I had previously been witness to.
Hosts of the event, U of T alumna Semra Sevi and current student Jonathan Scott, kept the questions broad but gave Trudeau an opportunity to expand on his stance of the current Canadian political climate. Citing his former career as a teacher as one of the advantages of a Trudeau administration, Trudeau says “a good teacher, like a good politician, is not someone who stands up in front of a group of people and says that they have all the answers.”
Trudeau kept the conversation light overall, but managed to lay his foot down on some issues that were of importance to him. Key among them being the ability to govern the whole country, rather than practicing divisive party politics, noting current Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s Conservative administration.
On the topic of divisive politics, Trudeau claims that one of the distinguishing factors of his campaign is his ability to “say the same thing to all Canadians.” The Quebec MP goes on to clarify “I will say it in French and I will say it in English,” drawing a clear divide between his campaign and that of other leaders that pander to different segments of Canada. The Liberal candidate claims the Conservative party of Canada caters to the Alberta oil crowd, whereas the New Democrats aim to please the Quebec and Ontario constituents.
Trudeau’s ultimate hope is to be able to draw in all generations of Canadians. Though he shoots down the notion that his campaign is similar to the Obama campaign in 2008, Trudeau does cite Obama’s ability to bring out new voters in mass quantities as something his candidacy looks to replicate. His youth and social media smarts, realistically, may play a role in engaging youth voters and reaching the politically apathetic. But social media alone won’t be able to carry the candidate without a platform, something that has yet to be truly provided.
As brought up during the Q&A period, is a new face to a dying party really enough? The Liberal party is divided, tired and does not currently act as a representative to the people as it once did. Trudeau sees youth and involvement as key ways of building the Liberal party anew. However, the current frontrunner is under no illusion that he is going to be able to make voting “cool,” nor does he want to. “You can’t make voting cool because voting isn’t cool” Trudeau claims. Rather, he’d like to step away from the concept of “cool,” which he regards as detached and nearly apathetic, and instead aim for a new level of involvement and commitment from engaged Liberals who can see their party working towards their interests.
Value-wise, Trudeau presents as a charismatic and grassroots leader. Towards the end of the event, he encouraged people to sign up to become a “supporter” of the Liberal party and vote in April, as well as contributing whatever you can in their “transparent fundraising” bag (literally a clear plastic bag), cash donations up to $20. Throughout his leadership thus far as MP of Quebec’s Papineau electoral district, Trudeau has shown his ability to stay away from negative campaigning, an area that was contentious and overdone by all parties in the last federal election.
It’s almost at the part in the campaign where Trudeau is going to have to start outlining his concrete candidacy platforms or risk being scoffed, left wayside to others, or simply forgotten. What Trudeau made clear today is that he is looking to create a voter base set around who he is and what his values are. Whether the vision he has set forward thus far is enough is for voters to determine come April.