|Irene Harris, right, gets an autograph from federal Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau Monday morning at Country Kitchen Catering in Lethbridge. Harris had Trudeau sign a train order from 1972, alongside the signatures of Pierre and Margaret Trudeau. Harris said her husband, who worked on the train crew that carried the Trudeau family from Medicine Hat to Calgary in 1972, collected the signatures, back when Justin was a baby. Trudeau shook hands with supporters following his talk and a question-and-answer period, and later in the day met with retired Sen. Joyce Fairbairn, before he moved on to a lunch event in Medicine Hat and a pair of evening appearances in Calgary.
Herald photo by Garrett Simmons
Protests across Canada show the demand for vision and change. And Liberal leadership candidate Justin Trudeau sees the Idle No More movement becoming a positive force in that process.
Trudeau drew an enthusiastic Lethbridge crowd early Monday as part of his Alberta campaign. While many Canadians have become cynical about politics after years of negative, divisive government, he said, younger people - including First Nations leaders - are getting involved.
Heightened awareness created by rallies across the nation will help Canadians address some of the disparity that's never been resolved, he predicted.
"It represents an extraordinary opportunity," he told a questioner during a breakfast meeting that drew about 150 supporters. "We should take that energy and create something positive for all our futures."
Now is the time for broken relationships to be repaired, Trudeau said.
"We have an awful lot of work to do," he maintained. "It is time we talk about moving on from the colonial relic that is the Indian Act."
That can't happen overnight, he added, but only after a period of discussion. When resource development involves First Nations lands, Trudeau said that same approach is essential.
That's why he's opposed to building the Northern Gateway pipeline through northern British Columbia, he told reporters. The Keystone route through the U.S. and a proposed line to the eastern provinces offer better alternatives.
Trudeau, one of nine Liberals running for the federal leadership, said he's heartened by the response he's received in Alberta - in rural areas as well as cities like Lethbridge. Young people are turning up to talk about the economy and post-secondary education, he said.
"It's not because the Trudeau name is so incredibly popular in Alberta," he allowed.
It's more likely because people across Canada reject the politics of division, he said. They're not content to vote for "the least worst" of their political options.
At the same time, Trudeau said, Canadians have realized the Harper government's spending and waste is crippling today's middle class along with our next generation.
"This is the biggest-spending government in Canadian history."
Canadians want new leadership with a vision, he said. All they're getting, he said, is short-term solutions.
"We've got to start expecting more and demanding more from our political leadership."
For their part, he said federal Liberals have opened the leadership selection process to all citizens who'd like to take part - not just card-carrying Liberals. And all of the current 308 constituencies have an equal say.
By signing on an as a "supporter," he said, people concerned about this country's leadership can vote preferentially for the new Liberal leader. The winner will be named April 14, on the basis of the on-line ballots.
Another candidate, David Bertschi, is scheduled to address a Lethbridge audience at noon today. Last Friday, candidate Martha Hall Findlay came to the city on her campaign tour.
Other candidates include Martin Cauchon, Deborah Coyne, Marc Garneau, Karen McCrimmon, Joyce Murray and George Takach.
Trudeau was scheduled to speak later Monday in Medicine Hat. But first, he planned to visit former Senator Joyce Fairbairn - "Auntie Joyce" to Justin and his brothers when they were children. Fairbairn, a longtime Liberal voice from Lethbridge, has resigned her seat as she battles dementia.