Justin Trudeau calls for Liberal leadership, ready to fight back against Conservatives

Matthew Coutts
Canada Politics

Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau made his final plea on Saturday, telling a supportive crowd gathered in a Toronto convention hall that the Liberal Party must be ready to serve Canadians and offer then a positive alternative to the Conservative government.

“We are an optimistic, hard-working, problem-solving people,” Trudeau said during a 20-minute speech in downtown Toronto. “Canadians want a positive alternative that brings new solutions, new ideas and a new way of doing politics.

“I’m more convinced than ever that if we work hard every day between now and (the 2015 election) the Liberal Party of Canada will be that positive choice.”

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Trudeau’s speech was the emotional high point in a day-long showcase of Liberal leadership candidates vying to replace outgoing interim leader Bob Rae and bring the party back from near-irrelevance.

It didn’t take long for Trudeau to mention his father, former Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau. He neither reveled in his lineage nor hide from it. He didn’t hide from much, taking aim at Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives party’s impending attack ads.

“What is it with the Conservative attacks on teachers? They’ve never met a teacher they wouldn’t pick a fight with…. And let me tell you, my friends, this teacher fully intends to fight back.”

Widely considered the presumptive favourite, Trudeau spent much of his speech taking on Harper’s government. He called them unambitious, economically lost and more interested in demonizing their opponents than finding solutions.

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“What is the Conservatives’ economic message these days? That Canadians should be happy we don’t live in Europe?” he jabbed. “What is worse, the Conservatives use our challenges as opportunities to demonize their opponents and divide Canadians, not to find solutions. It is up to us, the Liberal Party, to say that the Conservative way of doing politics is not good enough.”

Trudeau stumped on the importance of diversity, welcoming immigration and a connection between economic prosperity and environmental health. He demanded the security of a strong middle class and support for those trying to join it.

“Canadians don’t just want a different government. They want a better government,” said Trudeau. He pushed the message that “hope and hard work” was needed to make the country great again.

“Canadians don’t just want a different government. They want a better government.”