Liberal leadership candidate talks youth, politics and byelection with students
During a campaign stop in Calgary, Federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau encouraged students to vote for a candidate, in a Calgary byelection, who is keen to represent a constituency of students and young people concerned about tuition costs, student loans and job creation for post-graduation.
Trudeau spoke to a group of about 200 students, faculty and staff at Mount Royal University during his brief tour through Calgary Tuesday, Nov. 21.
"It is time for this generation to realize that what is at stake is far too big for us to allow politicians to still focus on pointing the fingers and winning over the sound byte war," Trudeau said.
"(The current government's notion) of setting up easy Band-Aid solutions, sayingwhat people want to hear and leaving the big challenges for someone down the road to deal with is not the direction we need to be going in."
Trudeau said that resolving big challenges like environment, the concerns about the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, rising tuition costs and the long-term future of Canada's economy are paramount to a healthy and stable future for this country.
"It was great to hear from someone who understood that the nation isn't a matter of pitting one side against another," MRU student Colin Brandt said.
"There is something immutable and shared between Canadians; division only helps the established order and prevents real dialogue."
Trudeau said Canada needs young voters, fresh ideas and modern concepts to reinvent the current political process.
"Your generation is the most informed and most aware group of young people that has ever existed," Trudeau said.
"But instead of feeling empowered by that knowledge, all too often we feel overwhelmed and that the challenges are so massive we cannot make much of difference."
The gamble I am taking in my leadership campaign is that, yes, I understand people are cynical. But I also get the sense right across the country that Canadians are tired of being cynical."
Trudeau said that although Canada is rich in natural resources, the challenges that Canadians are facing — whether they are environmental, economic or human justice — are enormous right around the world.
He said these issues are substantial and Canada's future is going to rely on a knowledge economy of scientists, engineers and artists for its prosperity.
Trudeau answered questions on a variety of different issues including the sponsorship scandal that rocked the Canadian Liberals in 2005.
"It was a waste and abuse of tax payers money, absolutely, and that's why the electoral results have been in a free-fall," Trudeau said.
"But we have the opportunity to re-connect and eat our humble pie and, through hard work, earn the trust of Canadians once again."
Ben Atkinson, a MRU professor, said, "I felt he was very well spoken. He was enthusiastic and kept everyone's attention."
"I can't say if all of the ideas would be implemented if he was in power, but his ideas sound economically promising."
Atkinson said that Trudeau is the type of politician who could get young people out to vote because he gives the impression that he understands their generation, is in tune with modern ideas and shares the belief that the current (political) system is out-dated.
"I think what was most important was what he said about globalization and analyzing the pros and cons of future trade with China." Atkinson said.
"His ideas seem to foster to the future of Canada, which I believe had an affect on the
From the reaction from the students, Trudeau seemed successful at engaging the crowd. Many asked questions, laughed at his jokes and reacted in a burst of applause when the dialogue came to close.
Trudeau endorsed Harvey Locke as the candidate for the upcoming byelection in Calgary Centre, urging students to vote on Monday.
According to the most recent polls, Liberal candidate Harvey Locke is currently running behind Conservative Joan Crockatt.
"People are looking to this byelection because if Mr. Harper cannot hang on to Calgary Centre, it expresses that all is not right with the way Mr. Harper has been treating this democracy and Canadians in general," Trudeau said.
The event was hosted by Mount Royal University's Policy Studies Student Society — a non-partisan, student-led group that encourages active participation in politics.
- By Conor Mahoney